Baby it’s cold outside, and Christmas is looming. I was looking for a treatment to get me in the festive spirit, with a little of that Danish 'hygge' everyone keeps going on about (roughly translates as 'cosyness', apparently).
When my fellow Spa Spy suggested a Candle Massage, the first image that popped into my head was Madonna pouring hot wax on William Hurt in that awful 1990s film Body of Evidence (you can You Tube it here if you must, but I tell you, it will ruin your Christmas vibes.)
“They don’t actually use wax,” said my colleague, sighing. “The candles are made from essential oils and shea butter, so they won’t burn you.”
I did think that would be a bit extreme.
I was delighted to find a Luxury Candle Massage Treatment at the Spa at Bedford Lodge in Newmarket. It’s a perfectly reasonable £65 for 60 minutes along with use of their five bubble spa facilities, and only ten minutes from Cambridge – Christmas shopping in the morning, sparkly spa in the afternoon! Perfect.
The Spa at Bedford Lodge is far too tasteful to go overboard with their decs, but the silvery Christmas tree in reception is sweet and cheery. After a quick bite to eat in the plush Spa Lounge (delicious apple and celeriac soup), I still have plenty of time to use the Spa before my treatment. The Spa has some perfectly chic brown robes, but I want to snuggle up in my super soft Good Spa Guideone. (The reason I’m wearing dark glasses in the pic is because it’s so bright in the atrium, and not because I’m pretending to be Madonna.)
It’s tropical in the thermal area, but after a couple of visits to the huge sauna followed by some screeching under the bucket shower, I soon acclimatise. The lovely hydrapool jets pummel me into a relaxed pulp, although the outdoor Jacuzzi is a bit nippy – it is December to be fair.
I nearly fall asleep on a plush recliner as the sun lowers and turns the sky all kinds of shades of apricot and pink.
My therapist wakes me and leads me to my treatment room just as dusk begins to settle. Everything here is cosy earth tones (brown). Four candles are already lit and glowing prettily by a chair. My therapist explains that they each represent the elements of the Zodiac - earth, water, air and fire – all nonsense, but at this time of year I’m not averse to a bit of magical hokum, so I play along.
You get to pick your candle based on which scents you prefer, but she also asks how I want to feel. Truthfully? Insanely happy, all powerful and immortal. Failing that, I could do with an energy boost after all that shopping. I’d also like to feel relaxed and full of enough human kindness to deal with the family over Christmas.
I choose the Fire scented candle (slightly citrusy but also sexily musky) and the Restorative Body Oil, an addictive Espa bestseller, which I enjoy inhaling for half an hour as I lie face down for the first part of the treatment.
My therapist massages Restorative oil over the backs of my legs, then whispers that she’s about to pour the candle oil and it might feel hot for a moment.
She’s not wrong – I am slightly surprised at first, although it’s not painful. Poured in a straight line, it feels fiery, like a stiff drink. The therapist then disperses the heat with long massage strokes. I began to look forward to each pour as she moved around, limb by limb. As it pools on my back I picture lakes of gold.
Shea butter is more creamy and substantial than ordinary oil and makes lots of sloppy sounds. My therapist’s movements are expertly intuitive and rhythmic. They’re mostly deeply relaxing, but she also really works the knots in my shoulders, popping them like a Rubix Cube. They’ve felt pain free ever since.
As she massages the front of my body, I can peek at the candles as they’re being poured. It really is a strange almost Hogwarts-esque sight as the gleaming pools seem to hover in the darkness of the room.
Usually I prefer firm massage strokes, but I love the way the heat spreads though my limbs and seems to penetrate deep into my muscles. I’m sure even Scrooge’s heart would be warmedby this treatment - a magical start to Christmas.