Spa Junkie has just completed her first day at Pennyhill Park Hotel and Spa in Surrey.
I wake early, step into the Hunter wellies and take a lovely two-hour walk in the fresh – shall we call it “county”? – air. I head back to the spa via a stop at the gym for a morning workout. It has brand-new equipment, housed in a large space, and capable on-hand staff to help you navigate the gear and, on request, take you through your paces. I spend an hour doing a circuit and then do a few more laps of the ballroom pool, before I head upstairs to the treatment area for a final dose of pampering from a very comprehensive menu.
There is every conceivable treatment on offer in the 21 beauty and body therapy rooms, from spray tans to rejuvenating facials to reiki healing. I am utterly spoilt for choice, and with a one-hour window available, I decide, on a whim, to abandon my India dream and opt for the chakra-balancing facial (given I have never tried it); but I do a bit of mix-and-match to include a hot-stone massage first. There is nothing novel here; the therapist uses smooth, heated stones as tools to soften and knead tension knots – especially in the neck and shoulders – into submission.
The therapist gives me the lowdown before she gets started. “Chakra is a concept referring to vortices which, according to traditional Indian medicine, are believed to exist in seven points of the body. A chakra is like a spiral of energy, each one relating to the next. Chakra is the Sanskrit word for “wheel”; so if you can imagine the main seven chakras, or energy centres, as a set of wheels, they are a bit like the workings of an engine – each wheel needs to move smoothly, and at a similar speed, for the engine to work properly. So, the theory goes that good health and wellbeing are achieved by a balance of all these energies.”
If chakras are indeed like an engine, then mine must be running more Lada than Lamborghini, given the 48 hours of flying I logged last week.
We start with a deep cleanse using the spa’s own natural, organic facial balm, followed by the application of a smoothing facial polish. This is succeeded by a rich kaolin mask, which is essentially an old-fashioned clay mask – kaolin is one of the oldest cosmetic ingredients in use, and gets its name from the place where it originated, the Kaoling Hill in the Kiangsi province of China. This white powder is insoluble and very effective at absorbing impurities and toxins, such as excess oil, dirt, pollutants and other waste materials. It is also electromagnetically charged.
Once the kaolin has sucked the toxins out of my epidermis, the therapist places crystals along the seven chakra points while I am still lying on my back. Starting from the bottom, the first chakra is known as the root, the second as the sacral or abdomen, the third as the solar plexus, the fourth as the heart, the fifth as the throat, the sixth as the third eye and the seventh as the crown. Each chakra is also denoted with its own colour.
I don’t know if it’s the soft lighting, the facial or the peacefulness of the room, but I do feel a sense of calm wash over me as the crystals settle down my spine. While they get down to balancing, I surrender to a deeply relaxing therapeutic shoulder-and-scalp massage. After 30 minutes or so I am feeling an almost unbelievable serenity, of the sort that I never would have thought possible to achieve within (crystal) throwing distance of the M25.
At the end of the treatment, and after reluctantly and slowly putting my London armour back on, it’s time to check out and bid adieu. A last stop at the spa café to fuel up for the journey, and I am heading back towards the big smoke, with engine and chakras at full throttle.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The spa at Pennyhill more than makes up for the slightly tired-around-the-edges hotel. It’s a heavenly mix of water and pampering; and the fact that it’s a child-free environment keeps the noise levels down and the tranquillity levels high. There is a huge range of treatments on offer and the therapists are good, with solid technique. This, together with the state-of-the art gym and fitness, means I’ll definitely come back – certainly for a day visit (the spa offers day packages) when my chakra wheels need a tune up and my brain needs to switch off.
Spa Junkie pays for all her own travel, treatments and accommodation.