Ever since Gok Wan went from making us look good naked to creating catwalk outfits for less than the price of dry cleaning a designer outfit, I’ve been pulling out my craft glue (and the occasional DIY supplies) to glam up New Look basics into must have “pieces”. I’ve even taken a couple of their comfortable wide fit shoes and made them into sparkling triumphs courtesy of Claire’s Accessories and some Superdrug nail varnish. I know, these are not names that generally inspire, but when the resulting sandals are mistaken for the latest season sandals from Dune (and are actually comfortable enough to walk in) I knew I was on to a winner.
Fast forward to a girlie weekend in Barcelona this March and a visit to a local spa and suddenly my mind was working overtime again.
As much as I love the idea of a long weekend at a luxury spa hotel, if I’m honest the prices have always put me off, and my recent experiences at day spas in Morocco and Barcelona have convinced me that you don’t need to pay through the nose for an exceptional spa experience. In fact the best massages I have had to date have been the cheapest ones:
– Around 32 pounds for a hammam, with a gommage “scrubbing”, followed by a rhassoul, and then the most relaxing massage I’ve ever had. I can’t tell you how long I was in there – only that the sun had gone down, I had lost all track of time, and I was on a completely different planet.
– Even in Barcelona, with the euro at an all-time high, the top rated spa cost us around 54 pounds for the hammam, (with extra hot steam room and plunge pool), followed by a gommage “scrubbing” and another extremely relaxing massage. Three hours of luxury for 54 pounds compared to UK prices is a total steal.
The fact is that in many cultures the local spa is an everyday (or at least every month) treat, which, combined with good exchange rates (when they are available), makes them a great bargain on holiday. So why aren’t we taking advantage of them? Well personally I think it’s because, whereas guide books are stuffed with restaurant, sight and hotel recommendations, very rarely do they spend any time on spas. The spa in Morocco was recommended by friends, and the spa in Barcelona was found with some pre-emptive internet research. Later in the year I’m off to visit China, which has some world class hotel spas, but also boasts a proud massage tradition, which leads me to hope that as well as the day spas I’ve been recommended (where prices are about a quarter of UK rates) I’ll also be able to find other more authentic bargains. wedding venue lake garda