Sometimes I find people who work in spas intimidating. They can look a bit too groomed and while I know it’s part of their job, it makes me nervous about letting them loose on me.
I’m the same with heavily made-up beauty counter consultants. They terrify me as it’s just not a look I find appealing. So, as I approached the spa at Hotel du Vin, I wondered what I’d be greeted with. I needn’t have worried. Like a breath of fresh air the lovely and naturally gorgeous Cora stepped out from behind reception looking radiant not over-done and with the type of skin that makes you go ‘ooh’. Nestled at the foot of a staircase on the lower ground floor of the hotel, the spa is small, intimate and luxurious and feels a bit like a hideaway. Cora gave me a thorough consultation and explained the treatments she’d planned which included a restorative back treatment – scrub, massage and wrap followed by a scary-sounding skin vision lamp that would analyse my face highlighting every blemish. Then to finish, a facial and head massage. I felt queasy at the thought of the dreaded lamp, but my nose had some work to do first. The spa uses ESPA products and choosing the oils and scrubs meant a sniff test was in order. The theory is that you should be naturally drawn to the oil with the healing properties that your body craves. For the three phases of my treatment I chose energising oil, an invigorating scrub and balancing facial oil. As well as being used on the skin the oil was placed under the bed in a bowlful of warm water so that I inhaled the vapour too. Cora explained: “It takes seven seconds for inhaled vapours to go from your nose to your brain and take complete effect, so by inhaling the oil and using it on the skin gives you a double whammy.” It was pretty intense.
THE DREADED LAMP
I like a satisfying body scrub rather than a gentle rub and this felt like it was really doing the trick. The massage that followed was great and my shoulders felt fantastic almost immediately. While wrapped up like a turkey I almost fell asleep I was so relaxed, but came back down to earth with a bump when it was time for the skin vision lamp. I was partial to the odd sunbed circa 1995 and may have indulged in a drunken cigarette or 20 in my London years, so I was dreading this. Cora gave me some eye protection then began scanning my face and actually I was pleasantly surprised. The odd patch of sun damage and a few open pores felt like reasonable blemishes to expect for a woman of my age. Oh, and apparently my jawline is ‘amazing’ which obviously I shall hang onto. The facial that followed was gentle and smelled wonderful and the head massage was very relaxing. I chilled out in the relaxation room afterwards with a peppermint tea feeling relieved not to have the skin of a 90-year-old. Cora recommended a few products that would be worth investing in and gave me some useful after treatment advice. When I’ve had facials in the past my skin has been a little pink afterwards and has taken a day or two to clear, but my skin looked great as soon as I left the spa and still seems clearer and smoother three weeks on. I didn’t wear make-up for a week afterwards and I’m still only wearing a dab of concealer and a bit of blush. I think as well as the spa being right up my street – small, friendly and natural – the products and the way they were used suited my skin type which I guess you only find out by trial and error. If you’re still in the trial and error phase I’d give Cora a bell pronto.