Q: My girlfriend is intent on spending a spa day together to celebrate our anniversary and I couldn’t think of anything worse. Where can I go that doesn’t involve whale music and fluffy gowns?
Our expert Ahmed Zambarakji answers your questions below:
Even after spending the best part of a decade writing about the shift in masculinity that has come with the men’s grooming boom, I still feel desperately uncomfortable in the ‘relaxation’ area of most unisex spas. Going with your other half only heightens the paranoia of the whole experience (mostly that you’re being sized up by the other patrons) and so the choice of venue and treatment are especially important.
If she wants to indulge in a ‘duet’, check out the Sky Suite Collection of treatments at The Four Seasons on Park Lane. The newly kitted-out spa features a private suite equipped for couples where you can indulge in all-day rituals that can run anywhere from 120 minutes to 12 hours depending on you’re the size of your wallet and, quite frankly, how completely slothful you both are.
The Elemis Day Spa, tucked away behind bustling Bond Street, also offers a number of rituals including a Rasul (£76; elemis.com), a traditional Arabian cleansing ritual which eliminates the necessity for a therapist and basically involves you rubbing coloured medicinal charka muds onto each others bodies.
Perhaps most appealing, however, will be the Beer and Barley Treatments that have just launched at Brown’s Hotel (brownshotel.com). Devised in conjunction with Warminster Maltings in Wiltshire, one of the last remaining floor maltsters, the treatments incorporate magical Maris Otter barley and are finished off with a British beer taken from the extensive list of beverages form in-house eatery, HIX. The treatments, which include a Pale Ale Pedicure and Honey and Barley facial, blend grists of England’s legendary Maris Otter barley with East Kent Goldings hops, Hooky Gold Ale from Oxfordshire, and St Austell’s Tribute beer from Cornwall. The effect is a bit like bathing in a brewery. In a good way.
While these solo treatments might sound like an excuse to turn your romantic spa day into a raucous piss up, know that Barley has countless health benefits, and is high in vitamins B1, B3 as well as selenium, iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorous and copper - all of which help to keep the skin and body healthy. Our vote goes to the Barley Body Wrap, a 90 minute body cocooning treatment that involves getting scrubbed down with rough grist barley to improve circulation and reduce swelling while restoring vitality. This is followed by an all-over massage and topped off with a British beer and barley snack – natch. The Mrs, meanwhile, can indulge in a Nubo facial or an Aromatherapy Associates massage in one of the adjoining rooms.
If you’re under duress to whisk her away somewhere special, book in for two at Babington House in Frome, near Somerset (babingtonhouse.co.uk), where the Cowshed Spa has been revamped. Facilities include massive soaking baths that can accommodate the both of you as well as twin treatment rooms where you can indulge in a ‘synchronized massage’. Perhaps most importantly there’s a well-stocked bar and a proper Pool table in the main house too.
Four Seasons Hotel, Hamilton Place, Park Lane, London, W1J 7DR, 0207499-0888; fourseasons.com
British Beer & Barley Spa Treatments at Browns Hotel; 33 Albemarle Street, Westminster, London W1S 4BP 0800 988 4040; brownshotel.com
Babington House, Babington near Frome, Somerset, BA11 3RW, 01373 812266; babingtonhouse.co.uk
Find Ahmed on theexfoliator.com