The last time I was offered a full body massage, I was staying on Gili Trawangan, an island just off the coast of Bali. It was so brutal that I felt like I’d accidently entered a wrestling competition – and lost.
So when I stepped into the space-age reception of the QMS Skin Spa at The Lowry Hotel in Salford, it was with slight trepidation. I needed to get the train home and I would require working muscles to accomplish this.
As I wrapped myself in an oversized terry-cloth robe, I realised I needn’t have worried. There was no sign of the terrifying Balinese lady who barked orders and insisted on pulling every one of my joints out of place. Instead I met Olga, an extremely pleasant, chatty therapist who ensured I was at ease.
Manchester’s five-star Lowry Hotel has kicked off the December season with Christmas-inspired packages made up of a variety of treatments. I was booked in for the Mulled Wine Scrub, a festive offering to revitalise the skin and – quite honestly – I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I was a bit worried that I’d end up red raw, smelling like a Christmas candle, but I was shown and explained each aspect of the treatment before it began, and schooled in the art of proper epidermal care. For someone whose beauty regime is basic at best, it was an eye-opener.
The scrub was divine, like the scent of Manchester Christmas markets (minus the Bratwurst), and it had me longing for a Gluhwein or two. After this luxurious experience where even my hands, feet and stomach were exfoliated, and a quick shower to rinse off, the result of the treatment was instantaneous. Gone were the remnants of this year’s scaly tan; in its place was lovely and soft (albeit slightly pink) skin.
For this reviewer, the ability to switch off is like searching for the Holy Grail. My mind is like an over-stimulated toddler. The whole ethos behind a spa is to chill out. What if I couldn’t quell the incessant internal chatter? What was the correct massage etiquette? OH, GOD WAS THIS GOING TO BE AWKWARD?
It’s a weird situation, isn’t it? To be half starkers in a softly lit room playing plinky plonky music as a stranger kneads your skin like bread dough. But after some gentle coaxing from Olga, I began to switch off. Once the massage was through, my spine and shoulders were less tense and – shockingly – I felt completely relaxed. Almost too relaxed. I could have quite happily napped on the table.
I was led back into reception where I was offered use of the other spa facilities including the sauna and relaxation room (where I’d previously sipped a peppermint tea and looked out over the Irwell while waiting for my appointment).
While the surroundings of the spa are tranquil, the white walls and dim lighting made it difficult to figure out which room was which. I had to ask the lovely receptionist to direct me to the changing room before I wandered off towards the lift in nothing but a robe. Minor awkwardness aside, though, this beauty novice is now something of a spa convert.
With the Christmas party season already in full swing, this enjoyable festive package is just the pick-me-up needed after a few months hidden under winter knits. It’s fun without being gimmicky. The scrub serves a purpose – leaving just a faint aroma of yuletide– and is tailored to improve skin, rather than jump on the Christmas bandwagon.
If you’re in need of a festive indulgence or two, I’d certainly recommend the team at QMS Skin Spa. They are guaranteed to make you feel every inch the pampered prince or princess.