Did you know it’s Spa Fortnight? Are you a Spa newbie? First of all, a small confession: I am not a typical spa fanatic. A shameful admission for a beauty writer to make, I know, but there it is.
Sure, I’ve tried my fair share of weird and wonderful treatments in my time – from facials using diamonds (yes, really) to pampering pedicures, waxing and massage, but somehow I’ve never got around to spending the entire day, let alone a whole weekend, lounging in a fluffy white robe with a bunch of strangers sipping smoothies at a spa.
One of my friends is addicted to spas. She believes most things in life would be more enjoyable (work, food shopping, bills) if you could do them while floating, womb-like, in warm water, a glass of gently fizzing Perrier in your hand. In England she spas with her girlfriends and with her mum, while in Denmark she says it’s perfectly normal to spend the day hanging out with your guy-pals in a spa.
So in the interests of research, I packed my swimsuit and headed off to explore one of the nation’s top spas and I can now say I am completely won over.
I visited the K Spa at K West Hotel in West London for my introduction to spa-ing and it was a major epiphany. After a blissful facial, I wandered out of my treatment room and back into the changing rooms to prepare to enter the spa. (Newbie Tip No.1: have a shower before you enter the spa – it’ll gently warm you up before you go into the super-hot saunas and steam rooms, plus it’s only polite!)
Wearing swimsuit, bathrobe and flip flops, I entered the main space at K Spa, which boasts a beautiful, large hydrotherapy pool. I floated around in the pool for a while, then discovered a button that sent powerful torrents of warm water from a swan-neck fountain onto my shoulders – an instant and invigorating massage! Next I decided to brave the herbal steam room, which featured fragrant, moist heat that really gets all the toxins out of the skin. Then followed a stint in the sauna and lastly the sanarium. This combines the benefits of a sauna and a steam room, with a temperature between 58-60°, purifying humidity and steam to ease breathing. And after all that, if you’re brave enough, try the unique Snow Paradise – the first of its kind in London. (Newbie Tip No. 2: wear flip flops – the floor is covered in snow!) This icy Finnish invention invites you to stand in the tingling -15° space to really get your circulation going. Brrr…
The space is tranquil and gently lit, and mid-afternoon on a Wednesday, completely deserted (Newbie Tip No. 3: go mid week for a crowd-free spa experience.) Starry lights twinkle in the ceiling and there are cosy built-in wall loungers called ‘Kuddles’ for you and a friend or partner to relax in.
In a spa, the little things really matter; you might be feeling a tad vulnerable, sans possessions, (no phone! no watch!) but the mark of a good spa is that they’ll have thought of all the details for you. So if you’re sweating away in a sauna, wondering how long you need to stay in for, there should be a little egg timer on the wall to measure the minutes for you (I managed 7!) Thirsty? There’ll be jugs of iced water with slices of orange and lemon nearby. Really savvy spas will provide a drying machine so if you’re just visiting for the day, you don’t have to carry a soggy swimsuit around in your handbag – genius! Needless to say, K Spa had all of these smart touches plus more – powerful hairdryers, yummy-smelling shampoo and conditioner dispensers in the showers, even cotton wool pads to remove panda eyes after that session in the sauna!
After a few hours moving from hot to cold, steam to snow, I emerged feeling (and hopefully looking) refreshed, reinvigorated and a complete convert to the wonderful world of spas. phoebe frangoul is the beauty editor at cultbeauty.co.uk
THE BEST DAY SPAS: SpaLondon, The Sanctuary, Titanic, KWest. Check out Lastminute.com spa fortnight for more amazing spas in your area.