January has to be the worst month of the year to be a woman. I know the summer months can get pretty intense, but January is a positive onslaught from all sides. Not only do you have to completely overhaul how your body looks (because you had far too much fun at Christmas, and now you WILL PAY), but you must give up meat, dairy and booze, turbocharge your exercise regime, declutter the house, sort out your career, and finally learn that language/musical instrument/martial art, all while the weather is utterly miserable and you have absolutely no money.
Frankly, this year I’ve simply opted out of these requirements (along with, I can’t help feeling, the majority of men). I’m going to stick with my usual exercise habits and dietary regime, whilst also cutting myself some slack based on the fact that it’s cold and grey and sometimes you just need a big bowl of comfort food. Surely, in the most depressing month of the year, it’s the ultimate time to be a little kinder to yourself.
Which is why I was delighted when Radiance Wellbeing invited me to review a massage at their lovely central Bath day spa. Radiance is light years away from your usual spa set-up, because there’s no ‘beauty’ here – which means no long list of treatments for things you didn’t even realise were a problem, and no painful procedures disguised as ‘pampering’ – yeah, spa guys, we’re on to you. Instead, the focus at Radiance Wellbeing is on treatments to make you feel good, which we could use more of at any time of year.
I love a day spa. While a spa break at a manor house deep in the countryside is always fabulous, there’s something about strolling down a city street and opening a door into an unexpected Narnia of fluffy towels and gentle pan pipes that feels like a genuine, thrilling escape from the world outside. Not that Radiance subscribes to the usual clichés – while there are towels (very fluffy) and soothing music (not pan-pipe-based, at least while I was there), the décor combines a soft, muted palette with fabulously funky artwork by Bristol artist Alex Lucas – from the vibrant mural of birds and flowers splashed all over the chimney breast in The Drawing Room, to the natty jacketed hare (think Alice in Wonderland) who beckons you up the staircase with the words ‘and relax…’ There’s a luxurious free-standing roll-top bath tub complete with rubber duckie (called Ed), and a Snug filled with outsize bean bags and mementos from Roger & Emma’s travels in Morocco. Magazines for your perusal range from Bath Life to the Big Issue (four copies purchased every other week, always from four different sellers). The whole place is bursting with personality, and I absolutely love it.
So what was my massage like, I hear you cry? Well, dear reader, it was exquisite. Having made me a honey and ginger tea, masseuse Abby took me upstairs to The Drawing Room (Radiance’s biggest treatment room, with enough space for a couples’ massage, if that takes your fancy, and complete with a beautiful double shower), where she explained Radiance’s approach to appointments, which has obviously been thought out at some length. Treatments are booked and paid for in advance, so there’s no fumbling with your wallet to ruin the glow afterwards. Time for you to have a consultation, undress, and relax is built in, so that my 45 minute massage (the Radiance Rejuvenate package, £44.95) took up a 60 minute appointment. If you go for something longer, or book several treatments, you get even more chill-out time, so there’s never any rushing or clock-watching. Having chosen my massage oil (Relax, by the Oil Hut, a Devon-based company with a fabulous touch for fragrances) I shut my eyes and drifted off while Abby worked on my back, neck, shoulders and scalp.
Afterwards, I floated downstairs to say goodbye and was presented with my Radiance Wellbeing loyalty card – no messing about with points, simply have four treatments (scanning each time) and your fifth will be free. Yes please!
Frankly, I’m finding it hard to think of anything about this experience that wasn’t perfect. If you’re suffering from the January blues, I am officially giving you permission to get down to Radiance Wellbeing and treat yourself. If you don’t have time to stop, or you’re after some goodies to take home, you must also check out their shop on the ground floor, which is full of treats from super-local companies like Bath Spa Skincare, to popular favourites like Elemis and Floris of London. And relax…