Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Review: Imagine Spa, South Kensington

A recent Wahanda MobDeal offered two half hour treatments for £20 at Imagine Spa South Kensington - which just so happens to be five minutes away from my office.  Needless to say I whipped my credit card out immediately, and this week trundled down to redeem my voucher for a facial and massage.

Firstly: Imagine Spa is set in the basement of an LA Fitness.  I usually hate having treatments inside a gym complex; I always feel like the ultra-toned people therein are wondering why me and my wobbly thighs are there for a facial when we should be there for a power workout.  After I'd sheepishly slunk past svelte people stretching their muscles and pounding the treadmills, I found myself facing a reception desk set at the bottom of the stairs.  I'll admit that the cramped waiting area didn't give the greatest of first impressions, being formed of two chairs tucked into a tiny corner in a busy corridor.

Once I had filled in the usual consultation form, I was taken into a candlelit, small but tastefully decorated room and asked which treatments I was interested in.  Apparently a facial and massage are a common combination for Wahanda voucher holders, and although the scalp massage I was badly craving wasn't usually included in the half hour massage, the therapist offered to take five minutes off my massage to fit a quick head massage in, which I felt was very accommodating.

After disrobing and settling myself underneath a blanket, I waited for the therapist to return.  Whilst listening to the dull thud of dance music coming from the fitness studios upstairs.  And the sounds of people talking just outside the room.  Once the therapist reappeared, I was surprised firstly by the lack of a spare hairband with which to tie my hair out of the way, and secondly by the complete lack of music (especially given the noisy surroundings).  My massage, which was delivered with a gorgeously scented Babor oil and a medium pressure, was utterly silent - apart from the dull thud of the dance music, of course.

I admit I found it hard to relax as much as I'd hoped to given the level of noise.  Despite the moniker, the Imagine Spa is not really a spa, more a set of treatment rooms along the changing room corridor, and as such doesn't really provide the tranquil, calm atmosphere that the word "spa" evokes.

After twenty odd minutes of massage, I was told to turn myself over in preparation for my facial.  The products used were from the Babor range - not one I'd heard of before, but one I'm told is rather big in mainland Europe.  As the therapist applied the products to my skin, she described what ingredients were included in each one, and the reasoning behind the processes used; for example, cold compresses were used after cleansing to close the pores, which was very refreshing, and not something I've had before.

The facial itself was a fairly standard double cleanse, exfoliation, eye and face serums, massage cream, mask and moisturiser.  The products used were lovely - I fully intend to investigate Babor in the future; everything was softly scented with recognisable plant aromas, and my skin was left feeling hydrated and plump afterwards - although I did find a few stray grains of exfoliant stuck to my chin.

All in all - I had a relatively relaxing hour at Imagine Spa, which I think would be more adequately named Imagine Treatment Rooms due to the noisy atmosphere lacking in a spa-like vibe, although I do wonder if I might have found it less noisy had I visited in the middle of the day instead of after work. For the £20 I paid, I had an enjoyable massage and an effective facial.  I'm not sure I'd pay full price - with facials costing £35 for half an hour, and a half hour massage costing £30, the lack of ambiance and total relaxation is likely to be offputting to those looking for a bit of R&R.  For a touch of speedy maintenance, however, Imagine certainly provides competent technical service - just don't go looking for a post-work luxurious treat.

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