Being whipped with bamboo sticks in a former asylum might not sound too tempting. But for this Spa Spy it was tension-relieving bliss at Bannatyne’s flagship spa, Fairfield in Hitchin.
The building was a mental asylum before becoming a health club, and has recently installed its spa, which has a totally different feel to the vibrant and uplifting feel of the club. The treatment area has tall ceiling with exposed beams, small stained glass windows and has a wonderful sense of peace and space, with daylight flooding through the windows.
The 16-meter swimming pool is in the middle of the dark, atmospheric basement surrounded by inviting loungers. I was pleasantly surprised by this area, expecting it to be full-on like most health clubs, but it was perfectly relaxing. There is a Jacuzzi to one side, a large steam room to the other and a small sauna in the ladies changing rooms. Spa days here start at just £49 for use of the facilities and a half an hour treatment. Bear in mind you pay £3 to hire robes and slippers, and lunch is extra, but still, Bannatyne Fairfield is great value.
My therapist, Chelsea, came to meet me in the relaxation balcony and escorted me to a treatment room for my Bamboo Massage (55 mins £68). After a thorough consultation to establish my areas of concern, Chelsea introduced me to the rather large bamboo sticks I was about to be beaten with.
I changed and lay face down on the treatment bed and Chelsea applied the Bannatyne Relaxing Oil to my back, which had an uplifting Orange scent. Chelsea used the stick in a rolling pin motion over my neck, shoulders and lower back, thankfully avoiding bone.
She kneaded with the stick and used the ends on pressure points. Bamboo massage puts a whole new meaning to deep tissue massage – the pressure was intense but the tension relief was amazing. Like a lot of people, I hold so much stress in my shoulders and lower back and this was just what I needed.
Moving on to the back of my legs Chelsea continued to knead and roll but also used percussion movements on my thighs – great for breaking down cellulite apparently. I felt a bit like a giant xylophone but it felt surprisingly good.
I turned over and Chelsea massaged the front of my legs and arms. The only part of the massage I didn’t enjoy was the arms. I found the stick so uncomfortable I just don’t think there was enough skin to work on.
Bamboo massage is not for the faint hearted. It is a deep massage designed for people that work out or hold a lot of tension, probably not ideal if you are hoping for a soothing, indulgent massage treatment, although there are plenty of options for this on the spa menu. If you are of slight build this treatment possibly isn’t for you: the bamboo needs a fair amount of flesh to work on in order not to be uncomfortable.
It’s fair to say that I was rolled, slapped, poked and prodded for an hour, yet I felt uplifted, warm and a lot looser afterwards. I would definitely book the treatment again.
After my treatment, I lay on a tepidarium bed in the spa relaxation area: the heat was wonderfully soothing after the massage - I could easily have stayed there all day!
The Spa Spy
10th May 2016
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.
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