Spa Junkie is undergoing an afternoon of treatments at Espa Life at Corinthia.
The therapist, Reeya, starts the bamboo massage. She uses the bamboo like a rolling pin to knead out the muscles, and although it’s relaxing, it’s just not very effective at getting into the knots.
After 10 minutes, I decide to take action. “Is there any way I can get you to do a deep tissue on my back and neck? This is just not working,” I plead with her. If I go home with a stiff neck and a huge bill, I’m going to be a bit miffed.
She thinks on her feet, though, and we decide to make mine a bespoke treatment on the spot. “I can feel that you have a great deal of tension in your neck and shoulders. Have you ever seen an osteopath? We have a great one here; if you want, I will book you in for a five-minute consultation after the treatment.” Reeya tells me she sees him regularly as she suffers from a terrible back. “I recently had cupping done,” she chirps excitedly. What – here at the hotel? “Yes – it was amazing. It really freed up my muscles. I can’t advocate it enough.”
Ah. This is where it gets interesting – and this is where the “life” part of Espa Life comes in. This – at 37,000 square feet the largest of all London spas – boasts an alternative medicine programme offering a wide range of complementary treatments. They have teams of naturopaths, osteopaths, traditional Chinese medicine acupuncturists, nutritionists and personal trainers, all under one seriously smart roof.
After 60 minutes of pummelling administered with elbows, hands and a bamboo stick, my muscles finally feel suitably tender.
Now I’m ready for my Enzyme Peel Facial. No real surprises here: skin lamp analysis, cleanse, scrub with an electric brush, application of a pumpkin peel, toner, and moisturising face massage. I do appreciate the ice-cold rose quartz which Reeya places on my skin to cool it after the peel.
When she’s finished, my skin feels a little tender and still a bit warm – which is to be expected after an acid or strong enzyme peel – but at a glance it’s immediately clear that it has helped to even out my skin tone, which was rather lacklustre after a summer of abuse.
I take a few minutes to tranquillise in the sleeper pod, wolf down a handful of peanuts in the ladies’ lounge, and ponder my summary.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Espa Life is a game-changing development in city hotel spa concepts. It’s the first to offer a fully integrated wellness solution in a luxury residential spa environment. From full-on long-term detox programs to fertility treatments, marathon training to men’s belly-buster programs, they really have got things covered. My massage was good once we’d discussed changing her technique, and the facial results had three people commenting on my skin at a dinner party the following night. And although I declined all the products they had used and bagged at checkout, I think this brand is worth watching. The question now is, what will Espa’s chief executive, Susan Harmsworth, do next?
Espa Life, you have my attention.
Spa Junkie pays for all her own travel, treatments and accommodation.