The 36-Hour Spa Weekend: London

We think it’s high time guys everywhere embraced the sheared-and-shorn Tom Haverford-approved spa weekend. If the ladies have all-day makeover and mani-pedis, why can't we rally a few pals and splurge on a relaxation odyssey? To continue our New York Times-inspired series, here's how to spend a day and a half shopping, eating, and grooming like a landed gentry in foggy Londontown.

Saturday Morning

Drop your bags at the Great Northern Hotel (GNH)—London’s first railway property (it dates back to 1854), newly re-imagined with 91 rooms. There isn’t much to argue with here: high ceilings, clean lines, (MALIN + GOETZ) products, complimentary “pantries” with daily papers and fresh-baked pastries all day long. Whether you need the Tube or the Eurostar (perhaps Paris is next?), the location couldn’t be better: It’s right between King’s Cross Station and St Pancras International, one of Europe’s busiest transport hubs. It’s also a quick stroll from Caravan King’s Cross. The in-house roastery does seasonal espressos while the restaurant serves salt-beef bubble with eggs for brunch.

Saturday Afternoon

Take the Northern line on the Tube a couple of stops east to Old Street in Shoreditch (basically the Williamsburg of London). Drop into Anthem—conceived by former menswear buyer for Liberty London—where you’ll find 45rpm denim and artisanal bar soaps from around the world. For Old World interiors and avant-garde style, try Hostem, which has a new store-within-store selling Italian Santa Maria Novella products. And don’t miss the more accessible British clothier Albam, which carries Frank's Beard Elixir and other toiletries from our favorite UK barber, Mr Natty. Speaking of which, how about a shave and a haircut—and/or a beard/moustache trim—from Mr. Natty himself? Make an appointment and he’ll make you a brew (that’s British for tea) while snipping away on his 30-foot, bunting-laden barbershop barge, which usually floats around the canals of East London

Once properly fixed up, catch the Central line west to Oxford Street and stock up on Re-charge Black Pepper body wash at the source: the Molton Brown flagship on Regent Street. Don’t miss the hand and arm massages.

Saturday Evening

After stashing your goods back at the hotel, walk five minutes up to King’s Cross Filling Station, the gas-station-turned-hipster-slash-foodie-destination and the pop-up-gone-permanent diner that is Shrimpy’s. On the menu: soft shell crab burgers, ricotta hot cakes, and “frickles,” deep-fried, pickled chilies. After dinner, take in a movie (Easy Rider, anyone?) on the big screen outside. End the night with drinks and/or cigars—and, if you’re still hungry, haggis bon bons—at the Booking Office, an epic space if we ever saw one, within the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. The more intimate GNH bar, just around the corner, is good for a nightcap.

Sunday Morning and Afternoon

Head (or carefully stumble) across the street from your hotel to the spa at the St Pancras London Renaissance, where you'll find a host of special services for men, including a "soul-warming beauty treatment for the feet." Then venture east for the Sunday roast at Hawksmoor Spitalfields, known for serving quality British steaks (and mean cocktails, too, if it’s time for hair of the dog). We recommend the roast beef, with Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings. Once stuffed, make an effort to get some culture in. Take a healthy walk across the Thames to visit the Tate Modern or try to see a show at the V&A, and the Light Show at Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery.

Christine Ajuda

For our complete list of 36-Hour Spa Weekend guides, go here

Photos: Shrimpy's/Great Northern Hotel/Mr. Natty/Mary Photropics

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