Generally, when I hear the word spa, it’s usually because someone wants me to go and get them 20 Rothmans. So I was delightedly surprised when I was recently offered the opportunity to have a day in one of those fancy schmancy luxury pampering places.
Of course, as regular readers of my own blog will know, I was recently rushed to hospital with inflamed arteries around my heart (probably caused by stress, or so the quacks reckoned) and so a bit of relaxation was, quite literally, what the doctor ordered.
I was a little nervous turning up at Spa Verta in London – I didn’t really know what to expect – or what to wear. Luckily, I’d opted to leave the Speedos at home (no one needs to see that) and had gone with some swimming shorts, which turned out to be exactly the right choice.
Of course, actually finding the place was harder than I thought – once in Hotel Verta I pushed the -1 button for the spa. The lift doors opened, and I then spent 10 minutes searching the corridors for any sign of the place to no avail. I then looked out the window and realized that the -1 floor probably shouldn’t have a second floor view out of the window, and got back in the lift, feeling a bit sheepish.
Once there, things looked much more spa-like. The lighting was low, the surfaces were marbled, and there was a little waterfall. Very tranquil. I was greeted by the receptionist and handed my dressing gown and slippers. I stood there for a few extra seconds but it turned out that there was no pipe forthcoming. Dashed in my attempts to look like a 1950s dad, I went down to the changing room and slipped into something a lot more comfortable.
The Verta Spa offers several relaxation opportunities – there’s a sauna, a pool, a sanarium (no, me neither) and a gym, for those of you who have no idea what the word ‘relaxation’ means. I opened the door to the steam room and prepared to get sweaty. At first, I was struck by the darkness. Then the heat. I sat down in the corner and started pushing all those nasty toxins out. Admittedly, the toxins were only there in the first place because I treat my body like a skip, but still. After my eyes began to adjust to the darkness I realized that the ceiling was full of little twinkly lights and I began to imagine that I could actually make out constellations. Realising that perhaps I’d been in the sauna a bit too long, I made my excuses and left.
I then went for a dip in the pool, which was the absolute perfect temperature. There were amazing waterfall style taps that you could activate, allowing you to recreate that scene from Cocktail. Although don’t take your swimming costume off, as it turns out they’re a bit uppity about that.
I lay there on my back, feeling like the smallest baby in the biggest bath, and marveling once more at the tranquility. I know I keep using the word tranquility, but it really was very peaceful and quiet, like a graveyard that’s forgotten to re-animate its corpses. I glanced at the clock. It was time for my Spa Verta Signature Massage. I quickly re-robed and went upstairs to reception. Unfortunately (and this is entirely the fault of my stupid auditory canals), I’d somehow managed to block my right ear with water, resulting in a profound deafness that made everybody sound like one of the grown ups from a Charlie Brown cartoon. I was greeted by masseuse, a lovely Eastern European woman, whose name now completely escapes me. She did have a very cool tattoo on her arm though – a passage from the bible in Latin apparently.
She took me off into one of the treatment rooms, and let me smell a few of the oils she had available. I went for the ginger one, because, hey, I like cakes. Despite my audio impairment, I heard her tell me that she was going to give me some privacy, while I undressed and got up onto the massage table, and that there was a wardrobe I could put my things in the corner of the room. “What – everything?” I asked, but I couldn’t hear her voice as she left. So now I was in a quandary. Should I remove the trunks or not remove the trunks? Would I look like an idiot if I left them on? Would I be arrested if I took them off? In the end, I left them on. ‘Better safe than sorry’ I thought.
I lay face down on the table, and she eventually returned. For the next hour, she rubbed and pulled my body in all sorts of directions, and I mostly kept my cool, apart from when she rubbed my feet and I giggled like a schoolgirl. After a while I felt like I was in an almost trance-like subspace, my mind almost perfectly blank as my body relaxed totally.
After she’d finished, I left the room feeling lighter than air. I returned for one last steam and a swim, and then had a lovely power shower to finish.
Since leaving the spa, I’ve definitely felt more relaxed – and now I’m off to go and spend the weekend relaxing by the Cornish coast. I suspect that by Monday I’ll be so relaxed that they’ll have to physically carry me into work because my limbs will be literally useless. But I don’t care, because at least I’ll still have a smile on my face.
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