Tucked down a tiny street in London's Mayfair is the Elemis Day Spa. Step inside and you immediately find yourself in the zen-like reception, a world away from the area's bustling boutiques, cocktail bars and galleries.
It’s busy when I visit but gently so, with black-clad, barefoot assistants tending to the smattering of guests. There are fresh white roses in vases, flickering candles and an (extremely enticing) array of Elemis products on display. As I perch on one of the velvet sofas, I'm offered herbal tea, water or a fresh fruit smoothie whilst I fill in the usual spa paperwork.
The reason I am here is simple. Rather excitingly, Elemis has just launched its first new spa treatment for two years — the Modern Skin Facial, for skin challenged by modern living. City dwelling (deadlines at work, rush-hours on the Tube, eating on the hoof, too much coffee and alcohol) is taking its toll on my complexion, so I'm keen to check out this hour-long treatment.
Stress and pollution have never been great for the skin, and mine is looking decidedly haggard and tired with clusters of spots, which won't go away. This facial promises to leave it looking clearer, radiant and more balanced. It will raise mineral levels, regenerate skin cells, rebalance sebum levels and reduce rosacea apparently. Sounds good.
Having been shown to one of the eight treatment rooms — the décor reflects the beauty brand’s fusion of Eastern therapies with wooden floors and furniture, Indonesian fabrics and ornaments — the therapist Lola and I discuss my skin before she scrutinises it under a bright light. 'Yes, I can see your redness and breakouts,' she confirms.
But I perk up considerably when she continues: 'This Modern Skin Facial is perfect for people like you — young women in their 20s.' What a promising start considering I’m not quite in that age bracket (oooh, add about ten years since you ask!).
Much cheered, I lie down on the heated treatment bed and Lola embarks with a gentle foot massage or, in spa-speak, 'an awareness touch'; this is then followed by a series of Elemis creams, serums and masks being applied. These include a rich Soothing Massage Cream Mask, a Visible Radiance Serum, a Papaya Enzyme Peel, the Cellular Recovery Skin Bliss Capsule, an Exotic Cream Moisturising Mask, Eye Serum… you get the picture.
Those that aren't gently wiped off with a warm flannel ie the two masks, are left on for a few minutes, during which Lola gives me a lovely shoulder and dry scalp massage to ease any tension.
Maybe because the treatment involves so many being delicious lotions being applied to my face and taken off again, but the time speeds by and, before I know it, Lola is chiming the Tingsha Bells to symbolise the 'awakening' and the end of my hour.
I examine my skin carefully in the mirror — it does actually look less scraggy and drawn. It feels good, too - smooth and fresh.
As I leave the spa and stand on Regent Street waiting for the number 88, I find myself thinking about all the 'hazards' my skin is exposed to on a day-to-day basis. It's pretty depressing. Luckily Lola has recommended a number of Elemis products, which will help to protect my skin against all the stresses of daily life, so I can carry on the good work at home.
The Modern Skin Facial is new to BA Travel Spa from May 2010. Visit ba.com. The treatment is also available at Elemis spas and salons nationwide. It costs from: £50-£90 for 60 minutess. Visit elemis.com/DaySpa/exclusiveOffer1.aspx