Once Upon a Time, Natura Bissé’s Pure Air Bubble was a rare pop-up spa event – a fabulous facial in a rotund tent filled with 99. 95 per cent of purest, pollution free air.
But now The Aquarias Spa at Whatley Manor have installed the first permanent Pure Air Bubble in what used to be their Serail room. A Natura Bissé bubble in a five bubble spa … we simply had to hit the M4 to find out more.
Entering the bubble
I arrived at the Aquarias Spa reception, and my therapist Violaine led through their tepidarium and thermal area to an unmarked door. We entered with trepidation to see… the bubble! Quite impressive, it took up half the room: a glowing white tent like a giant snowball, air filters humming.
As Violaine left me to disrobe, I had a quick glance at my pre-facial face. There was no magic mirror, just a brutally honest one hanging by a window. I was able to see all my lines, crinkles and Dickensian grey pallor before I recoiled and skipped over to the magic bubble, hoping for a miraculous transformation.
As I unzipped, the bubble deflated a little, then expanded after I had zipped it back up. It felt cool and yes, fresh. If I had come from London, perhaps the quality of air would be more notable. There was plenty of headroom inside, a table full of products and a treatment bed with silk sheets and covers - a glamorous change from towels and sheets. I slipped between them, thinking ‘This is rather good fun.’
Is a 90-minute facial boring?
No. There are a lot of different sections, as well as stretches of pleasing massage on hands, legs and head while masks are left to set.
It begins, as all facials, with thorough cleansing. Violaine, with her flawless complexion and velvety French accent, had a very precise way of working and explained everything before it happened, which I found deeply reassuring. This is the kind of facial you want performed right, and I felt I was in safe hands. The chemical peel zinged like nettle stings for a few seconds, at which point Violaine turned into a kindly nurse, reassuring me that all was fine as the unpleasant sensation quickly passed.
Three masks followed, each with its own unique effect, like Cinderella’s dresses.
The first was bubbly. Carbonated powder is pressed onto the skin with a brush, and when a layer of serum botanica is added, the sensation is of one’s face popping like a glass of champers.
The second was plastic with LED lights working to promote collagen production. Peeking out, I saw Violaine framed in a circle of pink. This was removed and followed by a vigorous facial massage.
The final mask was a cold, thick paste packed with alginated goodness to seal in moisture. Violaine checked I wasn’t claustrophobic before pasting it over my closed eyes and mouth. As it dried, she massaged my feet and started moving my legs in a circular motion. At this point I had to fight a fit of the giggles: I felt like a giant frog.
Finally, Violaine applied eye cream, serum and Diamond White Oil-Free Brilliant Sun Protection, a CC cream that protects against the sun’s rays: essential if you’ve had a layer of skin removed with a chemical peel, although as Violaine advised you really should avoid the sun altogether for 24 hours.
Back to the mirror and … wow, yes, the results are fantastic. 90 minutes in the bubble was like 90 days of beauty sleep. My skin looked bright, crisp and even, with a wholesome colour. The crinkly bags around my eyes had completely smoothed over and my jawline looked more defined. The effects lasted at least a week and have certainly helped me cope better with winter dehydration.
They’ve really packed everything into this facial – a peel, three masks, a massage – as well as sparkle and theatrics. I was sceptical about the tent at first, but now I get it: it’s like popping up a mountain and inhaling deeply.
With champagne, snowballs, diamonds and magical anti-aging effects, it’s the perfect Christmas gift. And for Whatley Manor guests and regulars who can book into the bubble whenever they wish, it’s a happily ever after.
Age 38 (going on 23!)
Skin Type Normal/combination
Spa Likes Intuitive masseurs, inspired or outlandish treatments and design, posh products and celeb spotting
Spa Dislikes anyone po-faced (guests and therapists) or stupid, boring design and treatments
Find me on twitter @GoodSpaSpy
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