If you notice a suspicious rise in posts about anti-ageing therapies and anti-wrinkle products from me, then I'll come clean and confess that, yes, I recently turned 40! I celebrated in Barcelona and managed to fit in a visit to the Omm Spa, just off the glamorous Paseo de Gracia, Barcelona's Bond Street.
The Hotel Omm is gloriously stylish in an understated kind of way. Cool, clean lines, comfy, boxy seating, and quirky sculptures and lighting are the order of the day. But hop in the lift to the first-floor spa and you enter a world of calm. Reception is flooded with natural light and decorated in soothing earth tones. There's a definite Japanese influence, too. Beyond the reception is a small area with low blond-wood seating where you can relax and drink water or green tea; this area could easily double as a stylish sushi bar.
Unusually for a spa in a boutique hotel, there are a few spa toys to entertain: a small pool which transforms into a bubbling hydromassage area, a Hammam and a rather beautifully-lit ice fountain to cool down. The changing rooms are roomy with drench showers; I loved that you received a robe that felt more like a kimono than the usual spa robe.
I tried an Ayurvedic-influenced massage which began with a rose-petal foot-washing ritual. One of the things that can make or break a spa visit is a therapist who knows exactly what they're doing and is confident. My therapist, Barbara, was a dream. She began by asking me to inhale three different oils and to pick my favourite. For once, I wanted to feel invigorated, rather than sedated, so I picked zesty lemon. Barbara sprinkled a few drops onto cotton-wool and placed it in a handy pocket under the face hole on the couch, so I could inhale throughout the massage.
The massage may have horrified purists, but I adored it. Barbara used lashings of warm oil, a classic Ayurveda move, but she also blended together a spot of shiatsu, and, I think, some reflexology, too. She cherry-picked the most effective moves from each therapy and wrapped them into one amazing experience. After almost an hour, my mind was calm, my skin slithery-smooth with nurturing oil (perfect after a week in the sunshine) and my body ache-free (miraculous after days of pounding pavements).
- Ice fountain!
I drifted off to check out the Omm's relaxation room, definitely one of the best I've visited, thanks to their "gravitational beds" and use of chromotherapy. Their beds are, quite simply, brilliant. You lie down, snuggle under a blanket, twiddle a switch, and the bed starts to rock; not sideways like a cradle, as I was expecting, but more of an up-and-down motion. The bed tilts backwards, just enough to make you wonder if you'll slip (you don't), then tilts forwards again. I was entranced! It was oddly soothing, rocking back and forth in movements that, I was told, are meant to simulate the womb.
Chromotherapy uses colour and light to "balance energy". Did it? Maybe. The lamp shines on the ceiling and walls, and I watched the colour change from green to blue to pink... and felt decidedly chilled out, yet at the same time refreshed and raring to go.
After twenty minutes zoning out, I felt ready to get back to the Ramblas, and maybe one more glass of cava before heading back to Spa-central!
6th March 2014
Luxurious scented candles; hot massage oil; being warm; unusual treatments; fluffy towels; natural light; firm pressure.
Mould; slamming doors; being walked in on while treatment in progress; therapists with cigarette-laced breath.
Behind the scenes