This article is part of FT Globetrotter’s guide to London
Insomnia is officially on the rise, and with it a range of increasingly far-reaching remedies and therapies. The pandemic, and the anxiety and insecurity that has accompanied it, has led to an increase in insomnia, and terms like “coronasomni” and “momsomnia” are now sadly in the lexicon. Articles, books and podcasts on sleep hygiene, digital detoxing, the calming powers of exercise and the dangers of sleep deprivation for one’s mental and physical health are emerging with increasing frequency.
And yet it is all hopelessly counterproductive: the more we think about how to have a better night, the more intangible the sleep becomes. Lying awake at 2am and getting annoyed that the supermarket arrives at 6am followed by the usual over-programmed day of work meetings, children’s activities and a dinner you can not get out of is made so much worse in the knowledge that wakefulness is also bad for your long-term health.
I’ve been a serial sleepless ever since I had my first child, and I consider myself an enthusiastic, early adopter of any new-fashioned device or treatment that promises a good night’s sleep. I have tried everything from the clumsiness of proper medicines to lavender drops, meditation, sleep workshops, early morning exercise, alcohol and digital detoxing, podcasts, getting up, staying in bed, gratitude, mindfulness and more, with varying degrees of success.
So it piqued my interest to learn that some top hotels in London, over time, now offer a range of treatments and programs aimed at helping and improving sleep. My initial idea was that it would be counter-intuitive to sign up for any program where sleep was the focus – the old saying is that the more you think about the mechanics of sleep, the less likely you are to nod away. But the lid with top mattress, blackout curtains, three-glazed windows and “Do Not Disturb” signs could just balance it all. Here’s the list of London’s best hotel sleep treatments.
Sleep Concierge at The Cadogan
75 Sloane Street, London SW1
The concept of a Sleep Concierge – someone to organize the difficult business of falling asleep for you – is both appealing and a bit crazy. In this case, the porter is The Cadogan hotel, Belmond’s lavish Chelsea outpost, which has teamed up with Harley Street hypnotherapist Malminder Gill to create a sleep package based on a night’s stay.
Guests who sign up for this service will find a hypnotherapy recording on the hotel app that they can use during their stay, but an optional addition is a session with Gill herself. One thing I had not yet tried is hypnotherapy, so I booked in with Gill for an introductory phone consultation to discuss my sleep problems and what to expect from my upcoming session at The Cadogan. She paused and said that given my story, I might need a series of sessions as one might not touch the pages, but she would give it her best. “It will feel a bit like having a goodnight story,” she told me, “and you will probably slip in and out of consciousness all the way through.” I have to admit, I felt pretty skeptical.
A few days later, I checked into the hotel and paddled down to meet Gill in a suite on the first floor for our session. The light dimmed and I slipped under the duvet while Gill began to speak in soft tones for 45 minutes or so. I felt a bit like a child being stored up for a nap. One sign that it may have worked is that I can not remember anything she said. Afterwards in my room, I sat dazed on the bed for well over 20 minutes before it was time to eat in The Cadogan’s excellent all-day restaurant, The LaLee.
Part of the package is your choice of pillow from a “pillow menu”. I found this a rather scary decision and asked if I could try the whole menu. When I got back to my room, the bed was stacked with a wide variety of labeled pillows ranging from soft or firm to anti-aging and even anti-snoring. There was also a V-shaped neck pillow and a kind of snake-like one that reminded me of something I used in the last stages of pregnancy. I got a little hot and wanted to try them, leaving all the options in favor of classic Hungarian goose down.
Whether it was the generous pourings of wine for dinner, the hypnotherapy, the luxuriously swollen pillow, or a magical combination of all of the above, I slept well. And that was despite a few stressful work emails and too much pudding. Whether the effects of a single hypnotherapy session are lasting, I’m not so sure – I suppose in cases like mine, I would actually need regular trips to Harley Street.
Cadogan’s Sleep Concierge service is free if you book a one-night stay; rooms from DKK 590. Tailor-made session with Malminder Gill, £ 300 (Website; Directions)
OTO Deep Relaxation in Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
66 Knightsbridge, London SW1
One thing I have been successful with lately is CBD oil or cannabidiol, a byproduct of marijuana or hemp. Not just something old: I researched it thoroughly and was told by a pity that only products with a strength of 3,000 mg would be sufficient and that above all I should get a tasteless version, like many regular or garden CBD oils is incredibly bad tasting. A pipette of my favorite CBD an hour before bedtime does the occasional job.
CBD is now everywhere, in edible goods, cocktails and skin care. OTO, a luxury beauty brand specializing in products with added CBD oil, has teamed up with Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge to create a range of three treatments at the hotel’s renowned spa: Balance, Focus, Amplify. I found the idea of using CBD to amplify sounded a bit contradictory, especially for sleep, so I opted for Balance, the only treatment of the three designed to help sleep and deep relaxation.
The depth of Mandarin Oriental’s fragrant, dimly lit spa chamber is somewhat womb-like, and the ritualistic nature of any visit there – slippers, warming tea, water features – ensures that the unwinding process begins as soon as you check in your coat.
I chose “fixed pressure” on the schedule, and therapist Lucia took this to heart with gusto. The relaxing OTO oil was also mixed with jasmine, helichrysum and chamomile, and along with the pleasant gong-like “sound therapy” devised for the treatment, I was soon in a blissful liminal state.
There is nothing like a packed, delayed Piccadilly Line Tube to undo the benefits of the 90 minutes – it would have been far preferable to cuddle back to my hotel room in my dressing gown. Nevertheless, I slept that night for an astonishing 10 hours and almost missed the school trip. I would say this is well worth the hefty price, and definitely worth a return visit.
OTO treatments (90 minutes) at The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park from £ 245 (Website; Directions)
ROOM by Antony Gormley on The Beaumont
Brown Hart Gardens, London W1
This is not a sleep treatment, nor is it new, but British sculptor Antony Gormley’s ROOM at The Beaumont deserves more than being included here. ROOM erupts from the hotel’s second floor like a futuristic explosion and is first and foremost a monumental architectural sculpture based on the artist’s curved body. But it is also a sculpture you can sleep in, a monument to sleep on your own, and one of the most extraordinary places to live in London. As such, it is often booked by visiting celebrities and art fanatics, so I was lucky to secure myself a rare booking.
Room 215 leads via a living room, marble stairs and thick black velvet curtains to the sculpture’s cathedral-like bedroom, kept so dark that your eyes must be adjusted to see the geometric wooden entrails leading to what is, at. meters, probably the highest hotel loft in London. The only decor is a large double bed, a small alcove with telephone for room service and charger. As Gormley put it: “I wanted to structure the night as a preamble to sleep and dream and enhance the feeling of being completely enclosed. The very subliminal levels of light allow me to shape the darkness itself. My ambition for this work is that it must confront the monumental with the most personal, intimate experience. ”
When I checked in, as a Gormley superfan, I felt a mixture of intimidation and excitement at the thought of sleeping in one of his actual works of art, wondering how the night would go. In truth, after a martini at the hotel’s Le Magritte Bar and an excellent monkfish wellington in The Colony Grill Room, I could probably have fainted anywhere, but I had a surreal moment before I nodded where I felt like a Lilliputian trapped inside. a giant game Jenga. But ROOM’s intensely cozy darkness and silence soon melted my anxiety away and I woke up to my alarm at 10:15, put in a moment of panic the night before for fear of missing breakfast. My night at ROOM was a rich, sensual experience that put me in a calm, contemplative mood for the day.
ROOM by Antony Gormley at The Beaumont from £ 1,110 per person. nat (Website; Directions)
Relax and reconnect the sleeping package at Pan Pacific
80 Houndsditch, London EC3
It seems like a strange time for a Singaporean hotel chain to open its first European outlet, especially in the heart of the city, but on my Friday night visit to the new Pan Pacific, it buzzed with staying couples and city-slickers popping in. to get cocktails.
The hotel is serious about sleep, and has devised four jam-packed 24-hour packages designed to help you reset and relax. I stumbled upon Unwind and Reconnect, which began with a one-on-one yoga session in the hotel gym. It had been a while since I had been lying on a mat, so I was already feeling quite tired when I ordered at the hotel’s Singaporean – themed restaurant, Straits Kitchen.
Before putting on the free silk eye mask, it was time to tackle some sleep technology: Pan Pacific is the first hotel in the UK to use Chili Ooler, a temperature-controlled mattress pad that you program yourself via an app. With the advice of the hotel’s wellness manager, I set mine to 21C – the recommended temperature – and then raised another sleeping device, a Mela blanket, on top of me. I woke up at night strangely cold, so I threw off the awkward blanket (many swear to it, but it’s not for me), got the temperature of the mattress up a bit and soon dozed off again.
The real knockout was the treatment at the hotel’s spa, which began with being zipped down into a MiHigh infrared sauna blanket designed to help you detoxify and relieve muscle pain. The therapist quickly helped me forget how overheated I was beginning to feel, by “playing” some song bowls – a deep surround sound that is a form of effortless meditation. When I was happy to be released from the rug, she artfully began massaging my legs and arms with warm bamboo sticks – an effective deep-tissue technique that further helps relax. By this time it was Saturday morning and I knew the rest of the day would be a write-off.
Relax and reconnect at Pan Pacific, £ 360 (Website; Directions)
Illustrations by Agathe Bray-Bourret
What is your secret or strategy for a good night’s sleep? Tell us in the comments below
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