Showing posts with label massage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label massage. Show all posts

Monday, 21 September 2015

Royal Massage at Thai Square Spa, Covent Garden

A few weeks back I nipped down to Thai Square Spa in Covent Garden.  Tucked down Shelton Street near Pineapple dance studios and the shopping mecca of Seven Dials, I'd visited it before for a post-work treat, and this time I was visiting to try out a Royal Massage, which incorporates the new oils from Thai Square's skincare line, iMantara (yes, weird name, no idea why).

I was surprised to find the spa somewhat quiet and almost empty at 7pm on a weeknight, but the quietness made sure I waited virtually no time at all, skipping from the changing room (which sports dark wood lockers with ornate old fashioned keys) to the softly lit treatment room, which sported bronze accents and carved wood.

I've had many a massage before, and I've never had one where the therapist stays in the room when you get changed and hoist yourself onto the table - but she did, and I did, and it was fine, if a little awkward on my side.  Once I was settled, I was treated to a massage with some very, very firm pressure as I'd requested - a Thai massage isn't a Thai massage unless it gets deep into the most achey of muscles.

The massage was a full body experience, although as usual most of the time was spent on the back, and my therapist moved from strong pressure to loosen any kinks to a softer, more relaxing pressure when I, as usual, fell asleep.  Luckily this time I didn't drool all over the table, and I awoke in time to be turned over for a finishing spot of head massage and some gentle compression on my legs and feet.

I really enjoyed the massage, and left Thai Square feeling much more relaxed, with much less tension in my shoulders.  Strangely, for a massage involving new oils, I didn't really notice any particular aroma as the massage took place - I guess the massage was so good that the more subtle scent escaped my nose.  Either that or I was asleep when I was best placed to smell it.

Royal Massage lasts an hour, and costs £75 - not the cheapest of massages, but not the most expensive given the location, either.  You can find out more about Thai Square (who are shortly on the move) and about iMantara on the Thai Square website.

Disclosure:  Massage received free of charge for review purposes.

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Review: Massage and Facial at The Chelsea Day Spa Boutique, Hollywood Road

Last week, I took myself down to The Chelsea Day Spa's boutique branch on Hollywood Road, a fifteen minute walk (or five minute cab journey for the lazy) from Earl's Court.  I'd had a long, tiring week full of unfeasible deadlines, late night calls with Americans, and endless meetings.  I really, really needed some down time, and was very much looking forward to the half hour mini-facial and half-hour massage I had booked in.

The spa itself is pretty compact - despite occupying a space as small as your average high street beauty parlour, it still manages to feel upmarket.  The reception area was small, but contained a pretty sofa for waiting, complete with a basket of oranges (for the healthy) and a jar of biscuits (for me).  The ubiquitous nail bar was secluded but still flooded with light - whilst it was still in the same room as the reception, it was boxed in with massive windows, to give privacy without making you feel like you're in a tiny, lightless room.

I was questioned pretty comprehensively about my tastes and health before I was led into a compact treatment room.  The bed was heated, and a vapouriser sat in one corner, giving the room and delicious lemon scent which was at once refreshing and relaxing.

My treatment started with a half hour massage - I'd asked for firm, deep pressure, as I don't really feel a massage has worked unless my usually tense muscles are forcibly relaxed with a good pummelling.  My therapist, Noemi, told me that she could sort my muscles out without pain, and she was as good as her word.  Using just her fingertips and elbows, she dug deeply into my muscles without making me yelp or tense up further - I drifted off into a relaxed trance, enjoying every minute.  Half an hour flew by, and before I knew it, I was rolled over onto my back, with my shoulders given a final stretch.

My half hour facial was surprisingly effective for being quite short - it included a cleanse, exfoliation, massage and application of various creams. My eye makeup was left intact, which I really appreciated - I dislike travelling home on the tube with a completely bare face.  The facial massage was the stand out part of the experience - Noemi used her fingertips to gently but deeply manipulate my facial muscles, and I was left with skin which looked firmer and felt plumped up, and absolutely glowed.

Overall, I was very impressed with The Chelsea Day Spa's boutique on Hollywood Road - after just an hour I floated off home feeling super relaxed and with skin which looked like it'd had hours spent on it, rather than just thirty minutes.  I'll definitely be going back for more of Noemi's magical massage.

The thirty minute Chelsea Girl mini facial costs £45, and the thirty minute back, neck and shoulder massage also costs £45.  Find out more at The Chelsea Day Spa website.

Disclosure:  treatments provided free of charge for review purposes

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Treatment Review: The Comforter? at Lush Spa

A couple of weeks ago, I trundled down to the Kings Road branch of Lush, which houses not only an emporium of deliciously scented things, but also one of the Lush Spa locations.  I was lucky enough to be invited by Lush to experience their newest spa treatment, called the Comforter?.  It's a scrub/massage type thing - but with a bit of a twist.  The reason for the question mark, I was told, is that whilst the treatment is supposed to be warming and comforting, it also has a fun, light hearted element which is different to your average spa treatment.

When I first entered the treatment room, I couldn't help but smile.  A machine projected sparkles of green light around the room, emulating a starry sky, a bubble machine gurgled away to itself, and the lighting was predominantly pink.  I disrobed and snuggled into the extremely comfortable bed - there was a memory foam mattress and a heated blanket, making it incredibly snug and cosy.  The treatment is accompanied by a specially created soundtrack by Lush's spa composer Simon Emmerson, and it's about as far from whalesong and pan pipes as you can get.  A little bit of instrumental music from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a little bit of I Can See Clearly now - it was very uplifting, comforting in the way it reminded me of being a child, and it was actually something I wanted to listen to, rather than something washing over my ears in the background.

The scrub itself is administered with a molten hot chocolate product, which dries down onto the skin and is rubbed off, eliminating the need for a shower midway through the treatment.  As with the massage serum used afterwards, it was applied warm to the skin - and it smelled absolutely fantastic.  Warm, comforting, and deeply chocolatey, I kind of wanted to eat it.  Luckily I was too comfortable to try.

After a thorough scrubbing, I was massaged gently with a warm, liquid body serum in a rolling motion which was relaxing but not sleep inducing.  The massage wasn't the kind I'd normally go for - I'm usually a bit of a no-pain-no-gain girl - but it left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside and out.  After the treatment, my skin felt gorgeously soft and smooth, and I felt incredibly happy and content.

Emerging from the treatment room, I went to the country kitchen-style reception area and was treated to a special post-treatment drink - candyfloss and rose syrup mixed with sparkling water mixed in a cocktail glass - which was an unexpected and very sweet way to finish off a spa session (and quite different to the usual glass of water).

All in all, I really enjoyed the Comforter?.  My skin felt amazing, I felt uplifted and happy and for once I'd stayed awake throughout an entire treatment and appreciated every moment.  If you're looking for something a bit fun as well as a bit pampering, I'd highly recommend this - it's the antithesis of most spa treatments I've tried before, and I absolutely loved it.

Disclosure: Treatment received free of charge for review purposes

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Review: Thai Combination Massage at Sabai Leela

The other day, I swung by Sabai Leela, a Thai spa situated between Earl's Court and West Brompton, which also happens to be rather close to where I work.  The deceptively large spa offers a range of facials, acupuncture, waxing, manicures, pedicures, and a very comprehensive list of Thai style massages.  I chose to try out a Thai combination massage, which includes both intense acupressure, gentle stretches, and a more traditional relaxing massage to round it off.

The treatment began in traditional spa style, with me dumping my work bags and clothes into a locker, and donning a cream coloured waffle robe before pottering down to one of the underground treatment rooms.  Now is not the time to bemoan the prodigious size of my rear end, which made the waffle robe a little bit too form fitting, but it is probably the time to put down the Lindor.

Once settled in the treatment room, I lay face down on the massage table, expecting a standard massage administered with strong hands.  Gentle tinkling music played softly in the background.  Through the face-hole in the table, I could see an attractive bowl of flowers and pebbles instead of a utilitarian floor (nice touch, that).  And as soon as the massage began, I realised that the Thai style of massage was entirely different to anything I'd ever experienced before.

Instead of using fingertips to dig into tense muscles, the therapist climbed up onto the massage table with me and used her elbows, fingers, and other pointy bits to thoroughly pummel my tense muscles into submission.  She arranged my arms and legs into interesting contortions, and using her own bodyweight, gently led me through stretches as well as using direct pressure.

It was not relaxing.  It was not even really enjoyable.

And yet, it was incredibly, amazingly effective.  My shoulder muscles, which are almost always bunched up, relaxed to the point where I felt surprisingly flexible and loosened up, almost as if I'd done a bit of pilates.  After the acupressure part of the massage, I was expecting a softer, more gentle relaxing massage, but I soon found that whilst it wasn't as intense as the acupressure, it certainly wasn't as gentle as I thought it would be - the therapist continued to knead my muscles with a fair bit of pressure and strength.

Afterwards, I felt the most relaxed and bendy that I'd felt in a long, long time.  All the stress and all the knots had quite literally been pummelled out of my body, and whilst it wasn't a treatment I enjoyed - probably more a treatment I endured - the end effect was the most significant I've ever experienced from a massage.

If you like your massages to be akin to some gentle stroking which leads to a short nap, you won't like the Thai combination massage at Sabai Leela.  If you like your massages to leave you feeling relaxed, de-stressed, flexible and refreshed, then you absolutely will.  I'll definitely be going back.

Thai Combination Massage starts at £55 for an hour, going up to £105 for a two hour pummel-a-thon.  You can find out more about the massages on offer via the Sabai Leela website.

Disclosure: Treatment received free of charge for review purposes

Friday, 20 July 2012

Quick Pick: Denman Shower and Massage Brush

It's rare to see anything really new on the beauty scene.  This Denman shower brush, though, seems to be a pretty new idea to me - I've never seen anything quite like it before.  It's designed to be used in the shower (surprisingly), to massage any form of product into the scalp and hair.  

I did kind of wonder how much use I'd get out of it, given that I don't really put conditioner anywhere near my roots, but I've found that not only is it great at coaxing lather from even my most sulphate-free shampoo, it's also excellent at combing conditioner through the lengths of the hair.  I don't typically use a comb to distribute conditioner, as my hair doesn't get brushed between washes and combs just get tangled up and ripped out of my hands.  Thanks to the handle running across the back of the shower brush, which allows me to slide it on my fingers and get a great grip, I've managed to gently tug this brush through my conditioner laden hair with no trouble so far.  

The massage aspect of it is indeed rather nice - the plastic prongs are quite bendy, and it's possible to give the scalp a scratchy-firm massage by gently stroking the brush through the hair from hairline to nape.  It's kinda invigorating - not as relaxing as a proper head massage, but definitely gets the blood flowing in the scalp.

At a very reasonable £3.69, Denman's Shower and Massage Brush is good value for money, useful, and just a little bit indulgent.  Find it at Boots, in-store and online, now.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Treatment Review: Hydrotherm massage with Ben Barnett

On a sunny afternoon last month I made my way down Regent Street to Steven Carey Hair Design, not for a trim, but to meet massage therapist Ben Barnett. Ben is an internationally experienced therapist, as well as a reiki master, auricular acupuncturist and all-round feel-good expert.

His specialty is hydrotherm massage - this is a method where the client lies on their back on a water-filled cushion not unlike a gigantic hot water bottle, and the massage therapist slides their arms underneath to provide a full-body massage. It's very popular with those who aren't suited to the conventional face-down massage (where your face is positioned over a circular opening in the table itself) either through injury, pregnancy, or personal preference.

Ben combines the hydrotherm massage with guided meditation to provide an intense double hit of relaxation (not that he would call it that - he's as calm and peaceful in demeanour as you'd expect a massage therapist to be). At the outset of the session, he discusses the client's aims and concerns, and in particular how they'd like to feel on leaving the session - for example energised, calmed, or inspired. The guided meditation is then tailored to create the desired mood. Ben records the sessions so that the client can then take their own personalised meditation CD home for future use.

For my session, I asked to feel comforted and reassured. Ben worked from my feet upwards, using a beautiful aromatic oil blend (from Aesop - great taste) to massage me into a soporific state. According to Ben's understanding, each part of the body is related to an element of life and experience. For example, the legs are to do with patience (or impatience), and the stomach and thighs are where we absorb trauma, either our own or other people's. The information Ben picked up from my body was fed into the content of the guided meditation, allowing him to tailor it more specifically to me.

Ben in action
The experience of the hydrotherm massage is very different to the face-down version. Rather than pressing down on the back and compressing the heart and lungs, Ben was able to work from underneath my back, lifting me so that the weight of my body created the necessary pressure. It's much easier to breathe deeply on your back, and deep, slow breaths add to the relaxation element.

By the end of the session I felt profoundly different to when I arrived. I didn't take in everything that was said in the guided meditation - much of it washed over me as I zoned out into relaxation. I didn't worry about this as I knew I'd have the CD to listen to afterwards and wouldn't miss anything. It was quite emotional - I teared up once or twice - but overwhelmingly a positive experience.

If you fancy trying something that goes beyond the standard massage experience, visit Ben's website and get in touch with him to find out more.

Disclosure - treatment provided free for purposes of review

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Review: Karin Herzog Space Facial at Ajala Spa

I think I might have mentioned a few times before that I really, really love facials.  And that I also really love head massages.  So when I was given the opportunity to try out a treatment at one of Ajala Spa's four central London locations, I was instantly drawn to Karin Herzog's Space facial, which incorporates scalp and head massage as well as some quality facial action.

My evening didn't get off to the best start - the Ajala Spa in St Paul's has two addresses on the website, and having found myself in the general area of one of them, but not found the spa itself, I spent a few minutes wandering fruitlessly around looking for it.  Turns out that the spa can either be accessed by walking through the corporate-swanky Grange St Paul's Hotel, or through a tiny side street that's not marked on Google Maps.

Once inside, though, I promptly forgot my directions based annoyance.  Situated near to a gym, but not so close that the rhythmic pounding of exercise intrudes upon the peace, the spa was a little oasis of calm, with warm warm toned lighting, bronze statues, and wood accents.  After filling in the usual consultation form, I was invited to wait for my therapist in the relaxation room, which contained plenty of well padded recliners, glossy magazines, and complementary juice, cake and chocolates(!).

I was bowled over the the treatment room once I was led inside - it was a spacious double treatment room, with comfy elevated beds (which I did struggle to get into, I'll admit), flickering candlelight, and colour phasing accent lighting.  And the biggest, most beautiful freestanding bath I've ever seen.  I would have quite happily stayed the rest of the night in that bath.  Amazing.

Anyway - the treatment began with the usual removal of makeup, and then moved into the cleanse, exfoliate, mask, massage, moisturiser routine.  Each stage was interspersed with some incredible head massage whilst each product was left to sit on the skin - and indeed, once the mask had been applied, I was treated to a good twenty minutes (or maybe half an hour, I kinda fell asleep) of glorious scalp massage.  The therapist's fingers were probing yet gentle and I found myself dozing off several times.  In addition to the actual massage, there was a fair bit of hair manipulation, including some gentle tugging of the roots, which I found strangely relaxing.

An hour later, I was left with skin that felt firm, smooth, and entirely without residue, and an incredibly relaxed mind.  As the therapist had kept her hands free of oils when manipulating my head and hair, my hair wasn't overly disheveled, either, but was full of volume and tangle free.  If you love a facial for the skin maintenance, and also adore head massage, this could well be the treatment for you - I loved the fact that I essentially got a maintenance facial and a head massage in one - effectively two treatments in one go.

The Space facial costs £75 and lasts for an hour, making it a pricey but hard working relaxing treat.  It's also made me really curious about the Karin Herzog products, as they all smelled divine and left my skin looking fabulous and not at all overtreated.

Disclosure: Treatment was complimentary for review purposes

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Review: Spa by Car home treatments

Last week I was treated to a relaxing spa experience - in my room. Not in the usual face mask & a DVD way, but with a facial and back massage from a professional beauty therapist, on a proper couch, with candles and relaxing music.

This was all thanks to Spa by Car, a mobile beauty treatment company serving north London and surrounding areas. The therapist comes to your home in a dinky smart car (complete with logo) and brings everything needed for an at-home treatment.

I was visited by therapist Jodie (right), who is one half of the company's founding team (the other half being Lauren who is office-based). She arrived at my door with a folding massage table, a bag of products, muslin cloths and other bits and pieces, an iPad to play music on and use for a skin analysis, and even her own tea-lights to create the classic spa atmosphere. The only thing she needed from me was hot water.

We started with a facial, involving a double-cleanse, exfoliation, mask and face cream and eye cream, using wonderfully fragrant Spa Fabulous products. I was lying tucked up under the blankets on the very sturdy table, trying not to fall asleep as Jodie worked expertly on my face and massaged my scalp. She was extremely thorough, and I felt very relaxed - there was no sense that she might be watching the clock or have lots of other people in the waiting room.

Then she gave me a Swedish-style deep tissue back massage, which was absolutely wonderful, and worked on several annoying achy places in my back and neck that tend to flare up when I'm stressed.

The thing that really made it stand out for me, apart from how good the treatment was, was how nice it felt not to have to get dressed, tie up oily hair and fight my way home on the tube, thereby erasing all my relaxation. Instead I was at home and free to stay as relaxed as I liked. In fact, Jodie told me that most clients like to just roll into bed after the treatment is finished.

I would absolutely recommend Spa by Car if you're a north Londoner. I can vouch for the quality of the treatments - Jodie is one of two therapists at the moment and does all the training herself, with no contractors, and she is expert, professional and very easy to chat to.

Treatments include massage, waxing, makeup, blow drying, nails, eyelash extensions and pretty much every beauty-related thing you can think of. The facials start at £28.

Find out more at the Spa by Car website 

Disclosure - treatment provided free of charge

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Review - Agua Spa at the Sanderson Hotel

Disclosure - treatment was provided free for purposes of review

The Sanderson is a 5 star hotel located a few streets away from the frenetic foot-traffic of Oxford Street. From the outside, it's a monolithic, imposing building, but it contains one of the most blissful sanctuaries known to mankind - the Agua spa.

I'll be honest - I'm not the sort of person who can walk into a 5 star hotel as if to the manner born. I felt decidedly small and overwhelmed as I walked through the Sanderson's imposing lobby area for my treatment last week, but as I stepped out of the lift on the first floor and into the Agua reception, I immediately relaxed. I think it was the "quiet zone, no mobile phones" sign. (My subconscious probably thought I was in the geeky refuge of a public library.)

Agua is a maze of billowing white curtains, suspending from an incredibly high ceiling. It's probably quite a large space, but it's divided by miles of white fabric into a series of corridors and nooks that defy all wider sense of its dimensions. Without walls or windows, you quickly lose all sense of being inside a building, far less a busy hotel.

Beyond Agua's reception desk, the curtained pathways lead through to a central relaxation area. The lighting is low, and a cauldron-like water feature bubbles away, casting bright reflections on the ceiling. Elegant white chairs and side tables, custom designed by Phillippe Starck, are arranged around the edges of the room. Further along is a changing area with individual showers, mirrored lockers ready-prepared with robes and slippers, and a dressing table with thoughtfully provided hairdryers. There's also a steam room, and several individual relaxation areas; cosy curtained nooks with armchairs and lamps.

After a quick tour, I settled into a chair and sipped on a glass of iced water while I filled out the pre-treatment form. It was very thorough; even my taste in music was queried on the form and catered to during the treatment. After donning my white robe and slippers, I met my therapist Kasia who led me up some white stairs (who knew they were hidden behind all those curtains?) to a spacious treatment room. I had chosen the Restorative package, one of eight new "Inside Out" packages at Agua. Each one is different, but all are targeted at those who are short on time but keen to maintain their health and wellbeing. Each package involves a treatment followed by a carefully designed healthy meal and accompanying smoothie.

Before beginning the treatment, Kasia explained in detail how she would proceed, which was quite handy for me as I quickly became so blissed out that I wasn't really keeping track. First was the Eve Lom "Ultimate Cleanse" - a double cleanse of my face and decollete using Eve Lom's cleanser. (Kasia used natural sponges throughout the treatment to remove the products, which was a particularly luxurious touch as they're very soft and absorbent on the skin.) Next she painted several layers of warm paraffin wax onto my face to open my pores. Then she placed a warm cloth over my eyes before gradually peeling off the mask and finally performing extractions on the exposed skin. The cloth shielded my eyes from the very bright lamp she was using to check for areas of congestion.

I'd never had an extraction before, and to be honest I didn't think there would be much to extract, since I exfoliate regularly and keep a pretty vigilant eye on my pores, patrolling regularly for blackheads. However, several rather eye-watering minutes later she seemed to have honed in on quite a few problem areas and I was thoroughly purified.

Afterwards, a chamomile lotion and a layer of Eve Lom Rescue Mask were used to calm my skin and I lay back and enjoyed a massage with Aromatherapy Associates oils. The massage was slightly unusual in that I lay face up while Kasia slipped her hands under me and massaged my back, shoulders and arms. I was lying on a water pillow, so she was able to manoeuvre quite easily. The massage was the only part of the experience I might have wanted to change, and that was only because I wished it could have gone on longer.

Kasia was a great therapist - not only for her technique, but also her quiet, calm manner. She was gentle and careful in all respects, but also gave me a sense of assurance and expertise that made it very easy to relax with her.

After lying quietly for a while, I was installed (like royalty) in one of the private relaxation areas where I put my feet up and was served dinner - on a silver tray no less. To be honest, I thought the meal might be a bit "virtuous", but it was absolutely delicious - a light but fortifying meal that I enjoyed enormously. I had grilled turkey breast, quinoa with a salty dressing, watercress and roasted butternut squash. The coconut and fig smoothie that came with it was also very tasty.

I will let the picture do the talking - I ate every last bit.

After a luxuriously warm and powerful shower (with Korres toiletries) I dressed and reluctantly left the Agua premises. Stepping back onto the grey London street was like coming back down to earth after a few hours floating on a cloud. The experience was an absolute respite from daily life, which is, I suppose, exactly what a spa should be.

The Restorative package is £170 at Agua spa. For more information see the spa menu at the Sanderson Hotel website.

Monday, 12 October 2009

More Info on Lush Synaesthesia Treatment

Lush has ventured into spa treatments in the form of Synaesthesia, a massage that also includes a full soundtrack and a variety of scents that purports to be a "multi-sensory massage". This weekend I popped into Lush to stock up on a few bits and bobs, and asked one of the assistants for some more info; namely, the duration and the price.

The massage lasts for 1.5 hours, with a consultation before and after the treatment, so I was advised that clients should schedule 2 hours for the whole thing. The cost is a hefty £125, which is a fairly high end price. I rather like the concept of the treatment, but for that price I can't see myself being tempted unless someone gifts me one or unless I indulge for my next birthday treat.

If you'd like more info on the treatment itself, you can find a description on Lush's website, and there's a YouTube video here. 4 stores currently offer the treatment, with more to come.
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