I have travelled to Morocco many times. What I really like about the Moroccan way of life is the dramatic contrast between the chaos and drama of the external streets verses the solitude and peacefulness of the traditional Moroccan home or Riad. One minute you are in a tiny chaotic street winding through the Medina and then you step through a beautiful artisan door to solitude; an inner garden, the sun shining down casting wonderful shadows through shades or foliage and absolute peace and tranquillity.
While staying in Marrakech I became very interested in the Hammam culture, reading and speaking to many people on the subject. I remember seeing an interesting man whose job was to stack wood into a furnace used to heat the water for the public Hammam, which sparked my initial curiosity.
From this interest grew the seed of an idea – to take the public Hammam’s principles of bathing and cleanliness and give it the twist that would be needed for a successful London spa.
To do this I needed to figure out how to combine the tranquillity of a Riad, mixed with the Moroccan subtleness and gentleness of customer service.
My “research” meant visiting various spas and Riads in Marrakech. I drew inspiration from many places but these are the ones which stick vibrantly in my mind:
Riad 72, where I was staying, had elegant traditional Moroccan architecture with a modern slant (a similar concept to what we have to the décor of The Spa) and a Hammam decorated with the traditional Moroccan finish, Tadelakt.
The second place of inspiration was Les Bains de Marrakech, a lovely spa where they encompassed all the above in a unique way. I go back every time I visit Marrakech.
I was also struck by La Maison Arabe, a county club style Riad which I believe is owned by an Italian Prince. The Riad has a gorgeous Hammam and is adorned with Moroccan Artisan influence, which has an almost colonial feel to its interior design.
From these influences we have created a spa that fuses ancient expertise with modern innovation and I am very excited to share my vision with you when The Spa in Dolphin Square, London SW1 opens next month.