If you’ve never been to a spa before and find the prospect of wandering around in a bathrobe surrounded by strangers a tad daunting, ease yourself in gently with a visit to a treatment room.
Here you can pick a single treatment to suit your schedule and budget and find out what you like (and don’t like!) about the spa experience. If you’re looking for swimming pools and heat facilities (saunas, steam rooms etc) a treatment room might not fit the bill – they really do what they say on the, er, tin – beauty, well-being and holistic treatments. But for a quick fix when you need a speedy spot of pampering, they hit the mark beautifully.
Fans of Dove’s no-nonsense advertising and campaign for ‘real beauty’ will love their treatment rooms. Dove realised that many women are intimidated by spas and confused by the dizzying array of treatments on offer, so they came up with something simple and honest, which share the same philosophy as the brand’s products – giving women the confidence to love their skin from the inside out. There are several Dove treatment rooms around the country meaning you can pop in whenever’s convenient, rather than having to book out an entire day or weekend. One fabulous concept is the Dove ‘personalised facial’, where you work with your beauty therapist to come up with a treatment designed specifically to target your skin’s needs. You’re also given advice on how to maintain the effects of the facial at home, putting the power firmly back in the client’s hand – no intimidating pseudo-scientific waffle here. For the body, you can choose from an impressive menu which includes wraps, massages (hot stone is the best!), tanning and colonic hydrotherapy (yep, that’s the one formerly known as colonic irrigation). And in case the boys are feeling left out, don’t fret – there are facials and nail treatments created especially for you too.
Many hotel spas have treatment rooms attached too and I had the most fantastic facial at KSpa in Shepherds Bush. It used products from the Ytsara range, which contain highly active plant ingredients, to gently cleanse my skin, sloughing off dead skin cells and dirt, followed by an intensely relaxing facial massage to encourage lymphatic drainage, and the application of a sesame poultice dipped in warm rosewood oil to tone the face muscles and activate circulation. Mmmm… Throw in a tension-banishing neck and shoulder massage and I was in heaven, with glowing, velvety skin. (I then foolishly decided to explore Westfield for the first time and my tranquil glow was swiftly replaced by retail rage, but never mind!)
Some hotel spas have treatment rooms with a little bit extra thrown. The East River Spa is inside the Radisson Edwardian New Providence Wharf. Enter the city-chic hotel and ascend in a big white lift (a bit like a big fridge) to the first floor, then find your way down a corridor with calming music to the spa. As well as the treatment rooms, there’s a small but perfectly formed spa with a steam room, sauna and three showers which shower you with different jet streams for varied pressure. But best of all, you can relax before and after your treatment in a semi-circular space on warm stone seats with a stunning view of the Millennium Dome spread out before you. (Newbie note: the robes are rather brief!)
For their signature facial, you are wrapped in a big towel, then given a hot towel foot wash to relax – a nice touch. Then comes the facial examination where you discuss your problem areas – wrinkles, fine lines, clogged pores etc. Your face is looked at with the UV machine and sound advice is given (did you know that you’re supposed to drink a glass of water every hour, not just down a 2-litre bottle all in one go? This will really help reduce fine lines, many of which are caused by dehydration). The facialist will cleanse, perform an extraction (a polite way of saying ‘squeeze your spots’ – ew!), and apply a nourishing mask. Then comes a dreamy neck and shoulder massage, at which point you may well fall asleep (they’re used to this!)and finally your skin is treated to a hydrating serum and SPF moisturizer. Then you go and sit back in the hot tile couch area and they bring you tea, a sorbet and water! As an introduction to treatment rooms and spas, this is the ultimate experience as you’ll leave feeling incredibly relaxed with noticeably glowing skin. phoebe frangoul is the beauty editor at cultbeauty.co.uk
THE BEST TREATMENT ROOMS: Aqua Sculpture Day Spa, Knightsbridge Nail & Beauty, Beauty Above, Cosmedoctor, Spa Illuminata, Fifteen Royal Terrace and check out Lastminute.com spa fortnight for more amazing spas in your area.