The Botanica is a pretty restaurant on the ladies-who-lunch circuit. They’re drawn to its farm-to-table ethos; adjacent garden; and verdant, sun-filled dining room.
But even many of its regular diners might not know it’s also home to Sol Spa, a wellness centre downstairs away from the hurried realities of everyday life.
Several of the treatments include a bento box lunch designed by The Botanica’s executive chef, Perry Hill, who told Broadsheet when it opened lots of his ingredients are from its 65-acre farm in the escarpment in the Kiama Hinterlands, roughly a two-hour drive from Sydney.
Hill has been a chef for 25 years and has worked at restaurants such as Sydney's renowned – and long-closed – MG Garage and London's influential The River Cafe, among others.
The day we visit the lunch box is a delightful full stop to a soothing and effective treatment. It includes a mozzarella and cherry tomato salad, ribbons of yellow zucchini with chickpeas, and some tender and thin slices of chicken. You can pair it with a cup of organic herbal tea or a glass of Veuve Clicquot if you’re that way inclined (I am).
Sol Spa offers a comfortable, no-fuss experience. Treatment rooms are fitted with dimmers so you feel like you’ve retreated to a soothing cocoon. They’re also generously sized, complete with steam showers that are essential if you’ve booked in a mineral-rich mud wrap or one of the exfoliating body scrubs (Himalayan salt, coffee or coconut). I had a combination scrub of coconut and salt and afterwards my skin felt hydrated and invigorated.
Being underground means the rooms are incredibly quiet too, so your down time isn’t hijacked by outside noise. This is particularly pertinent if you’ve booked in one of the multi-hour treatments.
During the three-hour Botanica Luxe Package, for example, it’s easy to zone out uninterrupted and attempt to meditate while you’re getting the full-body massage and one-hour facial. The spa uses Synergie Skin and Heritage Healers for its facials.
At some spas there’s a tendency for the massage therapist to err on the side of relaxing rather than remedial, but that’s not the case here; knots are worked and muscles are stretched. There’s an option to book different styles depending on your preference, including a Thai herbal massage (where a warm herbal compress is used to alleviate any pangs), reiki (a non-invasive, non-manipulative gentle touching) and shirobhyanga, a gentle ayurvedic head massage said to relieve stress and tension in your head, neck and shoulders.
After your treatment you can recline in the lounge room on chairs covered in fluffy sheepskins. The room opens onto a courtroom and is comfy. I advise spending as much time here as you can – sheltered from deadlines and computer screens. Plus you get to kick back in a plush robe, which is excellent.
2 Laguna Street, Vaucluse
(02) 8999 6518
Tue to Sat 10am–6pm