A spa has always traditionally been based around water. Some people believe that the word "spa" actually comes from the Latin, meaning "sanitas per aqua", or "health through water". (Other people think that a spa is just named after a particularly spa-ey Belgian town.)
So why do we include treatment rooms without pools in The Good Spa Guide? It's because good treatment rooms offer more of a holistic spa experience than beauty salons or beauty rooms do; you get to change into a fluffy towelling robe, drink some herbal tea, and sojourn in a relaxation room in bliss, as well as enjoy your pampering treatment. Some treatment rooms offer "rituals", which means you get to spend a half or a whole day in a dedicated spa environment, often with a scented bath as part of the wellness experience. If there is a treatment rooms local to you, great: you can chill out without the splashing about or the travelling about. You'll usually find treatment rooms in town centres or shopping centres, or even some large department stores or health clubs.
Make sure you know what's on offer. If your definition of a spa means a swim is essential, you're not going to be happy with just a rose rub, however relaxing. If you want to look good, or have a makeover, consider going to a day spa with a focus on beauty treatments and an on-site hair salon.
If you want to retreat, relax and enjoy a pamper, look for treatment rooms that offer that little bit more. You'll still be able to get your hair and make-up done, as well as your eyebrows shaped and your feet pedicured. Other beauty therapy treatments can include manicures, waxing and hair removal, facial treatments - along a more holistic range of treatments - such as deep tissue massage, hot stone massage or reflexology. Most importantly, you can switch off the outside world...
If you're going for a day or half-day, check what's included in your package and what's not; some packages include treatments, teas and lunch as well as use of the relaxation rooms, and these can add up to very good value.
2nd May 2013
Instant results; jasmine and frangipani scents; hot steam rooms; a good selection of magazines; modernist decor.
Whale noises (on CD, not in the pool hopefully); hard massage beds; tiny toilet cubicles; being spoken to like a child; lukewarm pools.
Behind the scenes