I had a really awful massage recently.
Fair enough, I asked for firm pressure, but I had tears in my eyes during the hour of torturous pummelling. The next day, it hurt to get dressed.
Generally, having a massage is my favourite thing, second only to eating, but this was like aversion therapy.
I hoped that visiting the Waldorf Astoria Spa, to try one of their new treatments, would rekindle my love for the genre.
They’ve just rejigged their therapy menu, so they now offer rituals from up-and-coming Harley Street skincare brand, 111Skin, including their Celestial Black Diamond Non-Surgical Facial. For those who want something a bit more holistic, there are rituals by Ground Wellbeing - an Irish natural and vegan line that features potions that smell herbal and comforting. These products are on display in their reception, with a plant wall as a backdrop.
I’m trying their signature, The Grounding Ritual, which, my therapist, Barbara says, is “designed to bring you back to yourself”. I love that the consultation form asks what you do and don’t want, with reference to certain areas of the body, rather than feeling like a data gathering exercise.
I’ve done zero research, so go with the flow. This experience starts with a full but light body buff, followed by a scrub that features lots of little black grains. This is rinsed off in the en suite shower, and, once I’ve patted myself dry as instructed, leaves a scented residue on my skin.
Then I’m back face down under the sheet, for some deep breathing, as Barbara tells me to clench and un-clench my fists, while she presses into my feet.
The proceeding massage is joyous, with loads of different techniques, like ‘no hand’ moves, using forearms and elbows, and smooth wave-like rhythm, all using their Calm Body Oil, which contains rosemary, chamomile, bergamot and lavender. Now and then, she incorporates warm and smooth ceramic tools to unbuckle my knots. It’s firm, as I’d requested, but so soothing.
Once I’ve turned onto my back, a sage-scented mask goes over my eyes, and the front of my body is massaged, before my face gets a bit of pampering. She massages deeply into my cheekbones, applies a gorgeously scented peat mask, then rubs my scalp, while lengthening my neck and trapezius muscles.
After two hour of sybaritic relaxation, it’s over, and I feel like a tube that’s had all the toothpaste squeezed out. (In a good way). I’m currently saving up so I can do this all over again on my birthday.