Stepping into the spa is like entering a rustic English cottage, with reclaimed decor, package-free products, and cups of strong tea.
Everyone needs a chance to unwind, to let go of the busyness of daily life, the never-ending to-do list, the woes of the world. A spa treatment is a very special way in which to do this, especially for people like myself who have difficulty 'turning off.' With the aid of a therapist, a peaceful setting, and soft music, that elusive sense of total relaxation finally becomes attainable.
This dream came true for me last week, while visiting London for the Lush Prize awards ceremony. I was given a complimentary spa treatment, courtesy of Lush, at its spa on King's Road, Chelsea. My treatment was called Synaesthesia , and it was 80 minutes of heaven for me, an assisted walk toward relaxation and a sense of absolute calm that I have not experienced in years, if ever.
What's unique about the Lush Spa is that it's inspired by the idea of an English countryside home. Lush founder Mark Constantine had noted there are many kinds of spas, from Thai to Ayurvedic to thermal to meditative, but that the English experience had not yet been captured. So the company set out to do precisely that, buying furniture and decor from preloved sources.
Indeed, upon entering the spa facility, I felt like I'd stepped into a rustic farmhouse kitchen, with a long plank table, a bowl of fruit, tea cups, and a bouquet of flowers. The treatment room was designed like a 1940s-style bedroom, which is why it immediately reminded me of my grandmother's antique-filled home.
Synaesthesia was the first spa treatment ever developed by Lush; its name means "a mixing and merging of the senses." I was told to write on a small chalkboard a word that described what I was seeking of feeling that day, and based on that, the therapist selected a fragrance blend for my treatment.
The treatment is supposed to touch each of those senses, from the appearance of the space and smooth soundtrack at the beginning, to the smell of essential oils, the feel of cocoa butter being rubbed into the skin, and the taste of strong English tea at the end. The soundtrack was recorded by a 52-piece orchestra in Dorset, England. It takes the listener through a 24-hour journey, indicated by the different birds heard throughout.
Laura, my therapist, sat down for a chat over tea afterwards. Aside from Lush's unique English take on the spa decor and their lovely package-free massage bars, the contents of which had been thoroughly spread over my entire body at this point, I asked her what makes it unique. She responded (in her delightful British accent):
"I think a lot of what we do really focuses on how much the body and the mind have an effect on each other. They're not two separate entities. I like the fact that a lot of our treatments, as well as feeling good for the body, are designed to change your outlook or mindset, even if it's just for a couple of hours. We want to change how you feel, rather than how you look."
It certainly worked. I felt like I was floating as I left the spa that sunny afternoon to walk back across the city to my hotel. It was a real treat, prolonged ever-so-slightly by the gift of an additional massage bar and a bubble bar for the bath.