OK, you might want to be sitting down for this. Brace yourself, pour a stiff drink, get ready for some big news: heaven is in Salford.
You think I jest but I’m perfectly serious. It can be found on the second floor of the five star Lowry Hotel, an urban oasis chock full of relaxation rooms, fluffy white dressing gowns and women with the hands of angels. Heaven, thy name is Spa.
On a grey, drizzly day awash with that fine rain that gets you wettest, The Lowry Spa was as welcoming as a pair of earplugs at a Justin Bieber concert. Come hither, it said, come hither and forget your woes, listen to the soothing moan of the pan pipes and leave your mobile phone in the locker.
And so I did. I opted for the Destress package, a heady combination of an anti-stress scalp and body massage (using essential oils to soothe tension and restore lost energy, natch), followed by a healthy two course lunch at the award winning River Restaurant, rounded off by an Elemis Skin Specific Facial. Actually, I didn’t have time for the meal, I was too stressed about launching this website.
However, all thoughts of permalinks, alt texts and category titles slipped away as I lay down on the heated massage table and gave myself over to Clare, beauty therapist extraordinaire.
As I lay there, rather anxious that I may be wearing my granny pants, I began to wonder about spa etiquette. We Brits are not very good at relaxing, and I’m no exception to that rule. I’m the kind of person who worries that my cats won’t miss me when I’m at work, the type of individual who agonises over using a second hand stamp for a friend’s last-minute birthday card because, you know, it’s the Royal Mail and the Royal Mail is a bit crap. Sometimes, when I’m potting on plants, I fret about whether worms get sunburn. Every day is a minefield of niggling concerns.
And so, would I be able to shrug off these daily disquiets? After all, I was virtually naked and possibly wearing knickers that even Courtney Love would be ashamed to own. And what was the done thing when it came to talking? Should I strike up a conversation with Clare, share my underwear uncertainty, tell her that I couldn’t get the image of Courtney Love in grey, baggy britches out of my mind? Or should I just say silent, pretend I was in a state of blissful Zen? Then there was the quiet distress that Clare might think ill of my 38-year-old body. My thoughts strayed to the pair of hotpants I wore as a 20-something. Today, I would struggle to get them over my ankles. And I’d been nibbling my nails recently, what would Clare think of that? I consoled myself that Clare must have seen worse in her time. All those men’s hairy backs for a start.
In the end, my problems were solved when I fell asleep. It was only for a few minutes (I think) but, when I woke, I snuggled down into the warm embrace of the table and Clare’s caresses without a care in the world. By the end of the session, I felt like a spa veteran. Granny pants? Ha, no problem. Muffin tops? I laugh in the face of muffin tops. Still, it would be nice to get into those hotpants again.
And do you know what? For a top class hotel, the spa packages are good value. They are not exorbitantly expensive and the treatments are first class. So, if you fancy getting away from it all without actually getting away, try the Lowry Spa. Just make sure you ask for Clare.
Review by Helen Nugent
What: The Spa at The Lowry Hotel
Where: Dearmans Place, Salford
More info: www.thelowryhotel.com