The Spa Spy blog

Decadence: escape to Spa-La Land

I find it bizarre that in the coldest, darkest months, my friends are depriving themselves of life’s little luxuries. I know we’re supposed to be penny pinching after the Christmas splurge, but if we were smart enough, Christmas would be a slow-release of indulgence rather than a one-day explosion followed by months of guilty self-flagellation. A little gift per day, a spa treatment with the world ‘diamond’ in the title, a glass of Pinot and nibble of chocolate truffles, an attractive arrangement of fairy lights that you can keep up until the clocks go back – that’s how we should be doing winter.

Hygge is too woolly, and the latest Scandi buzzword Lagom (meaning moderation) too chilly. Detox shares far too many letters with Brexit. The word we need for January and February is decadence.

By decadence we mean a taste of how the other half lives. It’s shiny and luxurious, Bohemian and don’t-give-a-damn: basically, the opposite of Lagom. It is Wham!, Prince, and Bowie – a tribute to 2016’s greatest losses. If the 80s are in fashion again (young people tell me it is so), surely decadence should be, too.

Some would say decadence is the nature of a Spa Spy. But that’s not necessarily true, there are plenty of times when we are happy with a kale smoothie and a salt wrap. But just occasionally – right now being a case in point – escapism seems like the only sane option.

It’s a cold and unstable world out there. Why heap misery and deprivation upon more misery and deprivation? Now is the time to head to La La Land with your fingers in your ears and indulge yourself rotten while you still can. Or as Dorothy Parker said, “take care of the luxuries, and the necessities will take care of themselves.” If the world is still here in spring, then you can think about cleansing and moderation if you must.

So here is the Spa Spies’ antidote to Lagom and Hyggea bucket list of spa decadence to enjoy while the world burns.

Lifestyles of the rich and famous

The first person to go to for decadent spa stories would be Sybaritic Spy, whose name is a celebration of epicureanism. Her interpretation of decadence is anything that makes her feel like a movie star – for example, Badrutt’s Palace in St Moritz, a hotbed of decadent luxury in Switzerland where she had hairdo, massage and make-up done simultaneously by the Palace Coiffure. And she looked like a million dollars, which is always handy for us Spa Spies when we try to pass for super posh in our still slightly damp bikinis.

Midas touch

Sybaritic’s comments caused Summer Spy to reminisce on her decadent spa moments – she’s had so many it would make a book, but her first thought was of her first ever review for Good Spa Guide, where she spent three hours being covered from head to toe in gold.

“It wasn’t just a slightly sparkly moisturiser, it was Klimt-esque molten gold dripping down my skin,” she said, dreamily. “There may not be a lot of evidence for the beneficial properties of gold, but even after a shower my skin gleamed and glowed. It rather set the bar for the following years of Spa Spy reviewing!”.

She also name-dropped the Carol Joy London Royal Hair Treatment at the Dorchester Spa – “Just entering the place makes you feel like a legend in your own spa day”.

Spoilt rotten

The thought of two therapists massaging you simultaneously is the ultimate in wantonness. The reality is even better – I was lucky to experience the Ayurvedic version in the wonderful Ayush Wellness Spa in Jersey. Single Spy took the decadence level up a notch by having one in Bali. On the beach. Now there’s a spa memory you’d want to replay again and again, especially when you’re standing on a freezing platform listening to the announcement that your train has been cancelled…

Decadence by design

For Scarlet Spy decadence is in the detail. “This year I've swam in a mother-of-pearl lined swimming pool, drifted in a golf-leaf vitality pool and glowed (my mother taught me that women never sweat) in an onyx steam room,” she said. Makes a decadent change from slate or mosaic tiles. 

Breaking the bank balance

Savant Spy had her first £1,000+ spa day in one of the most well-heeled areas of London (mentioning no names, but you know where we mean, right?). She had the 25-metre pool entirely to herself, rang the buzzer on her pool-side lounger to order drinks and spent six hours in extremely good treatments. “I felt like a princess, without the paparazzi and constant pressure over my appearance.”

The beauty of an indulgent experience is that – rather like Wordsworth with his dear little waterfall – one can daydream about them on cold and dark days, flicking through the glossy pages of memory, or the luxury travel articles in Wellness magazine.

The only trouble with decadent pursuits (other than those laid out by those terribly judgemental Victorians) is that a girl can get a little too used to them…


If, instead of sitting by while the world burns, you want to make a difference, try working your way through The Guardian's list of practical things you can do to survive and resist in the Trump era. We're on it!