The Spa Spy version of the old Japanese curse – “may you live in interesting times” – is “may you have unusual treatments.”
It’s the “interesting” and “unusual” treatments of course that make funny blog pieces, and in my early days as a Spa Spy, it seemed I had quite a few. While my colleagues enjoyed luxurious Eve Lom and Natura Bissé facials, I somehow found myself slathered in bird poo or being whipped by a semi-naked Russian.
It’s quite hard to believe that some spa treatments are for real, and not someone’s twisted idea of a joke. Here are some of my top treatments that should be April Fools, but are sadly real – some I’ve tried, others I have my fingers crossed no-one is going to think “Hey, that’ll make a hilarious blog - let’s send The Spa Spy!”
A snail facial is where your therapist will place live snails on your face, where they are left to slither around. Happily, this is one I have not tried, although the image is now etched on my mind. It’s popular in Asia, while the French have long used snail mucus in creams and lotions as it’s packed with beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. In ancient Greece, the father of medicine Hippocrates reportedly crushed snails and sour milk as a cure for skin inflammation. One article we read during research warned Do Not Try This at Home. Thanks, but if you need to be told that…
Also, more poetically known as the Japanese Nightingale Dropping Facial, popular with Geishas as it is supposed to whiten the skin. The droppings are hand-harvested from the Uguisu bird, which is farmed on a remote Japanese island, then mixed into a thick, purple coloured mask. It’s not that exciting. I think my editors imagined me being trapped in a room with hundreds of defecating birds. Sorry to disappoint folks: it was actually rather pleasant.
3.The Elsa Cure
Cryotherapy is huge in Finland and Slovakia (where snow never bothered them anyway). You enter a cryogenic chamber set at around minus 184 degrees Fahrenheit and stay there for a couple of minutes – any longer and you’ll die of hypothermia. What exactly is the point of freezing your bits off? Removing toxins (even though most scientists and people of intelligence would say there is no such thing as a toxin…) and strengthening the immune system. We say: Let it go, let it go…
There I was in the posh South Kensington Club, surrounded by lunching ladies in cashmere. The next minute, I was in a basement sauna being lightly whipped with bunches of twigs by a Russian in speedos and a jaunty felt hat. To this day, I’m not sure if this was a psychedelic nightmare, or a Venik treatment in a traditional Banya…
5.Sheep’s Placenta Facial
Yet another weird treatment endorsed by Victoria Beckham and Kim Kardashian. How many creatures have to suffer to keep Z-listers looking like seven-year-olds? They make it sound like science in magazines – sheep’s placenta stem cells mirror our cells, so the proteins “work at an intracellular level.” What does that even mean? Who cares, it’s madness.
Instead of a fully trained therapist, why not have serpents writhe over your naked body? A spa in Israel and a zoo in the Philippines now offer snake massages. Advantage: snakes don’t want tips. Disadvantage: people are generally afraid of snakes, which can detract from the relaxation element. I read somewhere that you only need to worry when a snake stretches out straight next to you: that means they’re sizing you up for a meal. The Philippines zoo, however, say they feed their pythons 10 chickens each beforehand so they won’t get hungry…
I was going to make this our April Fool made-up joke treatment – but Googling it (warily, you never know what disturbing images may flash up…) I discovered that bathing in wee is a real thing. Madonna used to swear by it, as did ladies in 19th century France, and urine therapy is said to date back to the Bible. You’ve seen the Friends episode – The One with the Jellyfish – where Chandler has to pee on Monica’s jellyfish sting? Urine is highly sterile. However, you won’t find it in a spa, because it should be your own eugh de toilette, and it might take a while to fill a bath…
The Spa Spy
1st April 2017
Intuitive masseurs, inspired or outlandish treatments and design, posh products and celeb spotting.
Anyone po-faced (guests and therapists) or stupid, boring design and treatments.
Behind the scenes