Synaesthesia Treatment at Lush Spa, Chelsea

Life can be hard, and so can London. I’ve never lived there, but I’ve visited often, and even after one day — one happy, varied day wandering around, breakfasting on eggs royale, getting some makeup put on my face at the Charlotte Tilbury counter at Selfridges; taking the Tube; looking for WiFi… even after less than eight hours of it, London was wearing me out. By the time I got to the LUSH Spa in the King’s Road, Chelsea, I was shocked there wasn’t line of people streaming out the door, queuing for pampering.

The level of busyness reminds me of New York, which I mention because I got confused about the way the numbers run on streets. In Manhattan, it’s across, so 19 may be on the left, and 20 on the right. Here, and in Dublin too, the odds are all on one side, the evens all on the other — so when I got to where I thought 123 was, I was surprised at the lack of LUSH branding… and at the thought that it was in a some class of shopping centre. I did that thing where I wandered up and down, undecided, and then decided to wander along the road a bit longer — ah. There was the storefront. That made much more sense.
LUSH Kings Road Spa front

Despite the length and breadth of the city, the Tube makes you get places faster and I was half an hour early. My stupid injury leg was acting up too, but there was nowhere for me to wait, so I went next door to the Starbucks and had a big auld Chai Latte with a helping of some previously elusive WiFi. I almost had my nose removed by an impatient, not-watching-whose-space-she-was-invading, skinny-latte-to-go person who just reached right across me to grab some sugar — GRAB THE SUGAR BEFORE IT ALL GOES AWAY LONDON PERSON! Janie Mac. I am increasingly sounding like auld dear, but you’d want to try that in Dublin!

This is all to say that I really needed my 80 minutes of massagey goodness by the time I was lead down to the spa, in the lower ground floor of the shop.
Kitchen Table
The waiting space is small, and the essence of the LUSH treatments are so personal, that I saw why you wouldn’t want anyone hanging round while you were being taken through your preparation. I was to receive the Synaesthesia, the brand’s first, and signature, treatment.  
Massage bars in kitchen
The event is organised around a word that one chooses from the phrase written on the wall, and the bottle chosen {very Alice in Wonderland} from a nearby shelf. I chose my word and my bottle, and was talked through the use of the music, a bespoke symphony that mirrors a day from dawn to dusk in the Dorset countryside. I was advised that it would be played at sound level, which is: not as a subliminal element. There were moments when the transitions between movements were jarring, but in general, it was lovely, and was an unusually big part of the experience.
I was greeted at the door of the room with a dry-iced infusion of the scent I had chosen: it was theatrical, but fragrant. The room actually had a chair for me to sit on when I disrobed, and I can’t stress enough how much sense this makes, and how few rooms actually supply this basic piece of furniture. Particularly when you’ve got a stupid injury leg and don’t need to be hopping all over the place trying to get your knicks off.

{You have the choice of hot stones, as shown, or an abdominal massage. I went for the belly rub despite being dead ticklish.}

The massage was thorough, from face to toes. I had been invited to remove my make up beforehand, and there was some confusion as to what was going to happen. I had other stuff to do following and didn’t really want to cleanse. I was assured this was okay, but it really wasn’t, as the treatment kicked off with a face massage. Now, I have long longed for the face to be included in many a full-body massage I’ve enjoyed; I was somewhat distracted by the use of product on my face over my foundation and wished I’d asked what was specifically going to happen. I think that the LUSH ethos comes down so heavily on the side of ‘whatever suits you’ — which is normally great — but in this case, it would have been preferable to have cleansed.

It took some time to cop, but the movements of the massage flowed with the movements of the music. The breaks in the score were timed with the breaks in the massage, and the whole thing felt like the perfect gestalt of sound, touch, and scent. I didn’t find myself as floaty as I might get during a treatment, due to the sound level of the toons, but otherwise, I felt utterly relaxed.

A lovely cup of tea awaited, as well as a massage bar emblazoned with my word, and bath bar that unlike many of LUSH’s offerings, is reusable — just hold underneath the flowing water and let dry when you feel your bath is properly bubble-fied.

I left, to the easy-going goodbyes of the staff and a decision to give the number 11 bus a go. I just couldn’t face the Underground and the stressy crowds. The journey from King’s Road to the East End took basically forever, and the conductor was a fussy young fella who was unhappy with the way the side doors were closing and made a big production out of his feeling — I called him ‘Stan Shunpike’ in my head to preserve my good mood. Otherwise, the bus was the perfect tour of the sights, from the fancy window displays in Chelsea, through Trafalgar Square, past St Paul’s, and I did ultimately reach my destination.

Any my stupid injury leg? All the better for the attention to it, and to my entire body. As ever, I resolve to have more massage in my life, for both physical and mental wellbeing — we’ll see how that goes…


In the mood to splash out? This is super splashy: £125 for 80 minutes, plus your complimentary products.


123 King’s Road, London SW3 4PL, United Kingdom
+44 20 7376 8348


B&B! Q&A: Sabrina Lucey, Cloisters Spa, Muckross Park Hotel

SABRINASabrina Lucey is head therapist of the award-winning Cloisters Spa in the Muckross Park Hotel in Killarney. Eight years into her career as a beauty and massage therapist, she’s worked in television for such programmes as Ireland Am and Xposé, and she’s been loving every minute of it.

At Cloisters, she says she’s ‘fortunate to have a team of excellent and experienced therapists, who are all highly trained in all aspects of conventional beauty treatments.” They also are proficient in holistic massage, reflexology and many other alternative treatment, so you’d be spoiled for choice.

I myself was fortunate enough to have experienced a new treatment, the Wilderness Ritual, which featured a full body exfoliation with tailor-made body scrub, followed by full body application of body butter, and a massage using essential oils, administered via sea shells. I am just about crying, looking back on it now.

I chatted with Sabrina about certain aspects of this terrific experience, which totally puts the treat in ‘treatment’.

I know we’re supposed to exfoliate — and believe me, I love it! – but what exactly are the benefits, for face and body?
Simply put, it keeps the skin soft and glowing. Buffing the dead skin away will keep your pores from clogging, which keeps acne under control — both on the face, and on places like the back. It also speeds up your skin’s natural renewal process, and helps your moisturizer penetrate even deeper.

Getting rid of the dead skin cells helps with skin discoloration and unevenly toned skin — and if you keep up a routine, your skin will not only be visibly brighter, you’ll be keeping fine lines and wrinkles in check.

Can you tell me about the scrub and the body butter you used?
In Kerry I wanted to source something local, and met Alice from Skellig Soaps, at a Christmas shopping fair. I wanted an exfoliator that involved our signature scent of Lemongrass and Lavender, and Alice combined these two and created our exclusive scrub.

The oil I use in the seashell massage is her creation as well, and combines Ylang Ylang, Rosewood and Jojoba oil, which is very relaxing on the skin.

And I also know that essential oils are good for us, but don’t know exactly why…?
Essential oils have been proven useful in killing off viruses, bacteria or other pathogens. They are also considered to be powerful anti-oxidents.
They also can act on the mind, as well as the body: when the brain’s limbic system is stimulated, the realeas of neurotransmitters such as pain-reducing encephalin, pleasure-producing endorphins, relaxing serotonin, and stimulating noradrenaline, encourage the body, and also the mind, to chill out!


So, how was it?
CLOISTERS poolMy first thought as I descended the long, spiralling staircase down to the spa was, ‘No wonder they keep winning awards.’ If you’re going to set the stage for luxe, ensure that your guests feel like Scarlett O’Hara — albeit in a towelling robe, rather than swathed in the curtains — as they enter your domain.

It is all about relaxation in the thermal suite: that pool is not for laps, something that I always have a grá for, but I was happy enough paddling around for a while. The big draw is the outdoor hot tub: the bubbles were the correct amount of froth and warmth, and as the Blue River lazily wound its way around the back of the spa, l let go of some tension I hadn’t even been aware I’d been holding onto.

There are numerous places to lounge, and a sauna that I highly recommend. That hot tub, though, had my name on it, and I dunked myself back in until it was time for the treatment.

Now. I am am avid exfoliator, and equally as assiduous in applying lotions and potions on the bod. But let me tell you, there is nothing like having someone else do these things for you. The full body exfoliation with the lemongrass and lavender scrub was as thorough and aromatic as it gets — more thorough than I could ever manage for myself. A quick shower to rinse it off feels like it may be a bit harsh on the mellow, but the mellow is fully regained when the application of the body butter ensues.

Then, the shells. I eyed them somewhat dubiously when I arrived in the treatment room, but they are so effective. The shells had been warming throughout the exfoliation/body buttering, and were the perfect temperature by the time it was their turn in the process. They felt pretty spectacular: used to apply pressure to the body, they felt firm but not too hard on the muscles; they worked out several knots that I had been walking around with, and bunch of others I hadn’t known were there.

As always, it was over all too quickly, even though the session is the guts of 90 minutes. Afterwards, I was lead to one of the daybeds in the relaxation area, given a light treat of almonds and a smoothie, and left to breathe deeply under a muslin-canopied day bed. Bliss.


The Wilderness Ritual is €150 for 1 hour and 30 minutes, and includes full body lemongrass exfoliation, Cloisters Body Shea Butter application, followed by an 80 minute warm sea shell massage.


Muckross Park Hotel & Cloisters Spa
Muckross, Killarney,  Co. Kerry.
T: +353 (64) 662 3400
F: +353 (64) 663 1965


How to be the Best Child in the History of Children: sansanaSPA and Mother’s Day

Even though I am a fancy beauty reviewing lady, I don’t get to go to spas, like, every week. Much less every month! I am a lucky, fancy beauty reviewing lady in that I do get the occasional treatment, and every time I do get one, I’m all I should really {get a facial/a massage/a full-body exfoliation} more often!

And funnily enough, I never do!

After having spent hours in the sansanaSPA in the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire, my first thought wasn’t about me, for once. I immediately thought of all the mums, and all the daughters looking for gifts for them for Mother’s Day. Ladies — and any gentleman who may be reading — here’s the best thing you could ever give your mum, ever, ever.

I enjoyed a 90 minute Shirodhara treatment just last week, and I’m still sighing.

Because I am a fancy beauty reviewing lady, I have set foot, and body-on-plinth, in many a day spa. This is, hands down, the quietest one I’ve ever been in. Not that it wasn’t busy, because it was — but the soundproofing is sublime, and added to the rest of the solicitous attention I was receiving, the restful silence was the cherry on the ‘I am a special snowflake’ sundae.

I’ve been in treatment rooms that, for the level of noise that never seemed to abate, may as well have been in a lay-by on the M50. I have had my mellow harshed by endless opening and slamming doors, and have been irritated beyond belief by loud talking from the relaxation rooms that has not been adequately shushed by staff. The sansanaSPA staff are assiduous in maintaining the kind of atmosphere you’d expect in a retreat spa in the middle of the country.

So there’s that already, supplying your mum with an atmosphere that is geared to treat her like a queen, and she hasn’t even gotten into her plush robe yet!

Sansana Spa Treatment

I love pictures of treatment rooms. And look at the Thermal Suite!


At the far end of the aisle? That’s a bowl of crushed ice, which you spread upon your body, um… because you are insane? No! Because it’s a thing you do after {before?} the steam or the sauna. Or something. I don’t like cold, so I didn’t go near it.

Use of the the Thermal Suite is included in the session. There are also Experience Showers {!}, a room with floaty-mattress beds upon which to lie, a Mud Room, and my fave: the Heated Marble Beds. Just the perfect temperature, not too-too hot, and not some wimpy lukewaryish excuse for heat, either. These beds — ah! Even as relaxed as I was after the Shirodhara, I went and reclined for another twenty minutes. Well, you can never be too stress-free, can you?


In the background: the marble beds. <3 u, marble beds!

I also enjoyed a 30 minute swim in the Royal Marine’s pool. *Sigh*

Onto the treatment: the name Shirodhara comes from the Sanskrit for ‘head’ and ‘flow’, respectively. Based on the principles of Ayurveda, it involves the pouring of liquids, in this case warmed oil, over the third eye.

Right. I immediately thought of some scary, Homeland-y kind of water torture jawn, and wasn’t sure about this part. The other parts, grand: a rose foot bath, a full body massage, the regular application of eucalyptus-infused hot towels, and a facial cleanse/massage — super, no worries, bring it on.

But the oil-on-forehead thing was all set to freak me out.

It is so not freaky.

It is so… decadent. Sensuous. Relaxing. Indulgent. The warm, scented oil flows and flows, and runs down your crown, nourishing your scalp, and you — me — your mum would ever want it to end.

This is literally a top-to-toe extravaganza of a chill out.

My aesthetician recommended that I leave the oil in overnight, which I did. She had also recommended sleeping with my head wrapped in a towel, which I did not do, which was a poor choice. I’ve ruined that pillow slip, and I’ve tried washing the oil stain out twice. So do what the lady says, is the moral of that story.

Don’t plan anything — I mean, make sure your mum doesn’t have anything on after this, because the bliss, it should be embraced for the rest of the day.

The treatment costs €99, and is worth every single little penny.

And if you’re feeling super-generous, you can get a sibling in on the gig, sharing the Best Child status, and also the cost.

I’ve just sighed again. It really was fantastic. You could even go have a nice tea up in the Hotel beforehand, and then toddle off — I mean, send mum down to the spa.

Okay, I have to stop writing about this now.



The Shirodhara treatment is 90 minutes, at a special introductory offer of €99. Ring 01 271 2563 or email sansanaSPA@royalmarine, for more information.