REVIEW: A Spiritual Spring Clean at The Mandrake, Fitzrovia

Holistic healing with a haute couture edge – Editor Sophie Ritchie visits The Mandrake hotel in Fitzrovia to try an aura-cleansing Soul Restore Healing session

When it comes to spiritual settings, there are few places in London better suited for a holistic wellness experience than The Mandrake hotel.

The 32-room property sits tucked away in Fitzrovia, doused in a dark exterior that beckons a guest to explore the sensual interiors within when stepping into the tunnel-esque entrance corridor. With a name taken from the psychedelic mandrake root, it’s hardly surprising that the range of wellness experiences here are holistic-led – focusing on spiritual healing via a partnership with Maria Lodetoft and Barbra May of The Mystic Sisters, whose techniques aim to release limiting beliefs and deeply stored emotional trauma.

Having been invited along to visit (emotional baggage in tow, of course) I opt to try the ‘Soul Restore Healing’ from the varied treatment menu, which is described as a ‘gentle aura cleanse’. As well as massages and facials, the ‘Wellness Concierge’ offering also features a number of other unusual rituals, including a Cosmic Gong Bath and Crystalline Sound Healing, plus regular monthly group events.

So, what is an aura cleanse?

Image shows Maria Lodetoft and Barbra May of The Mystic Sisters

Well, let’s start with auras themselves. Ancient systems of medicine, such as Hindu scriptures, believe that this energy is expressed in layers, seven to be exact. Each layer is said to correlate to a different element of your physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health. Your individual aura is thought to be a luminous body that surrounds your physical one. Each layer (and that includes any issues in them) surrounds your body in an overall net of energy.

Since auras are all about energy, as we go about our days, we can pick up energy from other people and the outside world, which in turn can make us feel strange and ungrounded. You know – when your day feels like a rhetoric of Alanis Morissette’s Ironic song and everything just seems to be a little off, whether that be suddenly falling out with a friend, missing the train or getting caught in a rapid downpour with only a favourite designer bag for shelter.

This is where aura cleansing comes into play, which, as its name suggests, is about ritualistically cleaning your aura of other energies that do not belong to you, helping to remove stagnant energies and emotional blockages.

In doing so, it aims to help nurture your unique requirements – with a method that involved placing crystals on your seven chakras: the crown, third eye, throat, heart, solar plexus, sacral, and root – which together help align the spine for energy to flow freely. Forget the traditional notions of ‘woo woo’ beliefs – more people than ever swear by it as a method for success – with many opting for an aura cleanse at least once month.

How it works

The fully-clothed 60-minute ‘Soul Restore Healing’ treatment takes place on the hotel’s upper terrace complete with very chic greenhouse, found one floor above the famed Jurema terrace. After ushering me into the space and helping me settle in with a glass of water, my practitioner Barbra May also tells me they often use The Mandrake’s penthouse suite for treatments when it’s not occupied by a guest.

When it was time to begin in the foliage-filled space, Barbra asked me to close my eyes, lie down on the sheet-covered table, cloak myself with a velvety soft blanket and begin taking deep breaths. After covering my lids with a jade eye mask, she then placed the seven crystals across my frame and head in vertical alignment.

My eyes were shut, my body still – but as per, my brain continued to work at a thousand miles an hour, thinking about all the things I needed to do and complete before the end of the week. Barbra picked up on this almost instantly, exclaiming “Wow, your mind is so loud!” after just a few seconds.

Realising that my to-do list (and worry) obsession was going to get me nowhere, I began to focus harder on the breath work in order to help actually switch off – ‘leaning’ into the experience and blocking out the usual overactive imagination by simply slowly inhaling and exhaling to the rhythm of Barbra’s words.

Pressing down on different areas of my body, she began to recite positive affirmations, ranging from confidence boosting mantras to work-related statements, whilst telling me to picture a silvery light radiating through my body.

“You have achieved so much success already” she spoke aloud to the room, as if my inner nay sayer was lurking out from under my shoulder.

As well as placing the crystals, Barbra also used a tuning fork during the session (which looks a little like a barbecue utensil to the untrained eye). These forks use sound and vibration to balance the body’s energy, working to reduce tension in a similar way to acupuncture. Instead of needles, sound frequencies are used to stimulate points in the body.

A few days prior to visiting The Mandrake, I drove back from dinner in Surrey with my mum, having just committed to my first big financial investment since Covid. At the time, I was (shockingly) stressed about it, worrying that I’d made a mistake despite saving for months.

“You deserve lovely things. You deserve all the lovely things in the world.” She had told me as we drove back through a typically rainy summer evening.

Her vote of confidence felt like it was echoing around the room with Barbra’s positive words, reminding me to keep believing in myself. By the end of the session, I felt so much more empowered than when I’d first climbed up onto the table and significantly calmer too.

The Wordrobe verdict

Ideal for a constant over-thinker and persistent analyser like myself, the relaxing session felt like my mind had been swaying in a hammock somewhere beautiful for an hour.

Feeling both lighter and more free, as if I’d been given permission to shrug off some very heavy shoulder bags, I slowly sat up, said goodbye to Barbra and wandered back through The Mandrake’s exotic corridors to find my way onto London’s bustling streets, where an afternoon of crystal-free reality awaited me.

Make it happen
Where: 20-21 Newman St, London W1T 1PG
Wallet: The ‘Soul Restore Healing’ costs £95.00 per person.
How: Find out more and make a booking via For more about Mystic Sisters, please visit

Words by Sophie Ritchie, editor

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