The Refinery has been going strong since opening in January 2000. It is a concept for the 21st century: a city retreat where men get facials, massages and manicures.
Its pristine reception is a sign of things to come. The soothing smell of lavender permeates the air and a glossy, brightly-lit room feels immediately refreshing. It’s clean without coming across as clinical. The place sits opposite luxury hotel Claridge’s in London’s Mayfair. There’s a class to the place that complements its surroundings.
The lounge is the first stop for any customer. The receptionist tells me that a therapist will come to collect me soon – staff make sure customers always feel at ease. Other men sit comfortably in the lounge, working on their laptops as they wait for their treatments. This is the last chance they have to check work emails before turning phones and computers off when being groomed. The salon places as much emphasis on a customer’s experience being a retreat from the pressures of everyday life as it does on the physical benefits of procedures.
I’m booked in for The Refinery’s one-hour detox facial designed to balance the male skin. It’s what the salon recommends for newcomers to men’s grooming. Calming music accompanies the scent of lavender as my therapist begins by explaining the different stages of the treatment. All rooms are private to ensure maximum tranquility. It was the middle of the afternoon and I was already at this stage drifting off in relaxation.
The detox facial begins with a face wash using The Refinery’s own brand of products. The therapist cleanses my skin with a Refinery Face Wash. She then uses hot towels to remove the cleanser before exfoliating the skin with a Refinery Face Scrub. The application of products is in itself relaxing with face and neck muscles massaged in the process.
A steamer placed over the face for five minutes opens up pores for the blackhead removal that follows. The extraction is at times uncomfortable, but necessary for removing impurities and its lasting results are worth the momentary unease. The ensuing facial massage also compensates for any discomfort as does the facial mask that soothes and revitalises the skin. A scalp massage and application of moisturiser following the face mask sees the treatment end.
My skin felt immediately tighter. The signs of fatigue had faded. I felt refreshed, and not just physically. The Refinery manages to fit the experience of a long spa break away into one hour in the fast pace of London.