In the run up to the official Good Spa Guide Awards, the Spa Spies pick a few of their favourite spa treats for 2017.
As tireless adventurers in the World of Spa, the Spa Spies have an official list of standards that must be met to achieve a Bubble Rating. But for personal preferences, it’s often the little things that matter. Stylish Spy must have a decent vanity station in the changing rooms. Super Spy needs a floor length fluffy robe. Savant Spy needs a luxurious lounger to curl up on with a good book…
In the run up to the main event, in November, here are the Spa Spies’ Alternative Awards 2017.
We love a cabana, a day bed, a water bed… anything but a plastic garden lounger. Loungers without cushions or blankets? Clearly such spas are designed by masochists, not hedonists. So, without further ado, the nomination for cosiest spa lounger is…
Swinton Park and Country Club. For the ultimate in outdoor luxury comfort, these lie-down loungers laden with duvets, blankets, pillows and sheepskin rugs are a dream. “I could have dozed there all day, cosied up in the beautiful spa garden listening to birdsong.” (Savant Spy)
And the most inelegant encounter with a lounger goes to Stylish Spy for “falling backwards off a lounger at the Lifehouse Sparelaxation room and ending up with my legs in the air.” Not a good look.
Most Wanted Robes
Why do so many spas insist on thin woven cotton robes that don’t fit anyone over the age of 12? We want to feel cocooned, enveloped in luxury… and have a pocket. The Spa Spies favourite spa robe goes to:
Weavers House Spa. “So heavenly, I forked out and bought one (well, they’re too fluffy to squash in one’s suitcase!).” (Supreme Spy)
Please – no more apples and tap water! A truly luxurious spa will have home-made pots of tea and juicy Medjool dates or macarons to nibble on. We love bowls of dried fruit and nuts, biscuits, cakes (thank you Grand Jersey in the Channel Islands), post-treatment sorbets and either a tea and coffee machine that we can use ourselves, or natural herbal tea in Japanese-style pots. The best spa nibbles nomination goes to:
Yes, we bang on about them in our reviews, but this is where you begin your spa experience. Does the changing room make you feel special already, or like a Squeezy Jet customer vying for space?
Basic needs are; lots of fluffy warm towels, products, big lockers with hanging space, no TV, stylish and comfy chairs. The winner goes to:
ESPA Life at Corinthia. You don’t get much more glam than this. Everything is glossy black and white marble. The changing rooms have their own heat facilities, private changing pods, as well white tepidarium loungers arranged around a dramatic black circular fireplace. “It was hard to tear myself away from this den of decadence and head to the actual spa.” (Summer Spy)
Most Charming Welcome
First impressions are so important, especially if you have battled your way through traffic to reach your spa. With some spas, you simply check in and are pointed to the changing rooms. Others greet you with a drink and snack, park your car, give you a map... These people made our day:
Gainsborough Bath Spa Village. “Our spa assistant mixed us a probiotic cocktail in a gorgeous apothecary style bar, and created a small bag full of herbs to carry around with us. Mine was full of rosemary, orange, eucalyptus and sea salt. This spa is full of beautiful touches.” (Supreme Spy)
Least Dull Spa Gym
Mallory Court. “I have never seen a gym like this. It’s more like a boutique drawing room with polished bikes, treadmills and step machines looking out over pretty gardens: a gym for people who hate gyms. It’s a shame they were playing pumped-up music though – I think Gershwin or some piano jazz would work better for a more sedate workout.” (Shy Spy)
Coolest Spa Music
Talking of which, I do wish more spas would take their playlists more seriously. Think of your trapped clients, listening to bird song or a tuneless guitar on a loop for an hour. Even worse, think of your poor therapists!
Agua at Mondrian. “David Bowie in the spa lounge, Agnes Obel in the treatment room. And they ask you on your consultation form what kind of music you like.” (Serene Spy)
And the worst … “I may bang on about this, but a certain spa in Italy that shall remain nameless played Chris de Burgh’s Lady in Red while giving me a rather eye-watering sports massage. I don’t know which was worse, the music or the pain…” (The Spa Spy)