When I was invited to spend the day at the Malmaison Hotel Spa, I jumped at the chance, after all, what girl wouldn’t want to spend a day being pampered, preened and beautified, right?! My mission? To allow myself to be waxed, exfoliated, prodded and polished all in the name of research and to let you lovely readers know whether it was worth it, and whether it’s worth your time.
Let’s first start with the fact that I wasn’t even aware that the Newcastle Malmaison Hotel even had a spa until around three weeks ago and it’s been there as long as the hotel has stood on the glorious Newcastle Quayside. I know right?! Mind. blown. I was given a date and time for my visit and asked to select some treatments from an extensive menu comprising mainly ESPA treatments. On the day of my visit I packed up my hugest Tom Ford handbag and off I set.
The Malmaison is easy to find and it has designated parking (a dream in Newcastle city centre). It stands on the Newcastle Quayside right next to the Millennium Bridge and behind The Pitcher & Piano bar, it’s a great spot, the views are fantastic and there’s a constant flow of people passing.
Tucked away in the basement of the hotel is the spa, the hotel upstairs is a world away from the tranquil, hidden sanctuary below. An elevator ride transports me to a calm, quiet and low-lit environment, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and as the doors open, I’m greeted with smiles from behind a reception desk. (The first thing I notice is how much higher up I am than the reception desk and I instantly wonder if I’m standing in the wrong place – I’m not) We go through the standard discussion about allergies etc. and what to expect from today and then I’m given a brief tour before being given a robe (my attire for the day) and shown to the changing area by Laura, my Therapist for the day.
One of the glaringly obvious things about the Malmaison Spa is that it doesn’t have the usual trappings that you would come to expect. There’s no steam room, no jacuzzi, no whirlpool, plunge pool or indeed any pool of any kind, and that’s because this is purely a treatment spa. yes, it’s a given that some people will consider this a negative, but in reality, it allows the therapists to concentrate on providing the best treatments available, and in a city like Newcastle, it’s more about getting beautified and getting out on the Town.
All of my personal belonging are locked away in a generously sized locker (good job really, as i decided to bring the biggest handbag in the history of handbags), and I’m shown through to the central Relaxation Area. This area is the hub of the spa, it’s where everything starts and ends. The room is dimly lit with music playing at a low-level, there are soft, squishy, leather massage chairs operated by remote control and there are a variety of teas available on a stand in the corner. I spot a magazine rack filled with fashion mags and photography books and I settle down in a massage chair with Elle magazine. After some intense Level Three pummeling from The Chair, I’m whisked into a treatment room by Laura. The rooms here are gorgeous and don’t have the clinical feeling of some day spa’s, everything has low-lighting and is very calming, there are individual flowers on each treatment bed and the same music is played throughout all areas of the spa.
First up is a Lycon Brazilian Wax, definitely an ice-breaker and yep, it’s exactly as it sounds. For anyone who goes through the pain of intimate waxing every six or seven weeks, if you haven’t yet discovered Lycon (or Brazilian Hot Wax), get it on your radar now as it’s almost pain-free and it takes half the time of strip wax. In a nutshell, the therapist pre-cleanses the area with oil and the hot wax clings to the hair rather than the skin. There are no cloth strips used in this process, the wax simply sets hard and is then pulled away. Trust me when i say that the Malmaison Spa is a great example of this service. The North East has been slow to jump on the hot wax trend, I know this because for the last fifteen years or so I’ve travelled to London for the privilege and although there are a few places offering it throughout Newcastle and the suburbs, they aren’t a patch on Laura. So if f you’re curious, or even if you’re a regular waxer, give the Malmaison a try, you might just be pleasantly surprised.
Next on the agenda is a muscle warming ESPA Body Wrap. I’m taken to a different treatment area where we choose products by conducting a “Smell Test”. This involves smelling various oils and positions and basing my choices on preference of smell. Once I’ve selected my preferred aromas, Laura tells me that this will give a muscle warming wrap – perfect as I’m nursing a shoulder injury. I’m exfoliated head to toe and covered in a green smoothie like substance before being wrapped in a big tin foil-esque blanket. Once I’m wrapped, I’m treated to an aromatherapy head massage whist the green stuff gets to work. I can feel a sort of deep heat sensation and the whole experience, strange as it is, is super relaxing. As soon as I’m cooked, i’m unwrapped and whilst covered up i’m taken to a private shower behind a screen in the corner of the room and instructed on how best to wash the mixture off, i’m then moved onto a fresh bed and we move on to the full body hydrating massage section of the wrap experience, including a bespoke deep tissue massage to aid recovery of my injured shoulder.
Now let’s be clear, I’m a massage freak. I have at least one a week and I’m pretty fussy too; I tell Laura that “I like to feel like I’ve been beaten with sticks” and she laughs and agrees. After all, what’s the point if you can’t feel it, right?! For a petite girl, Laura is strong and she’s right in there, all-elbows and heels of hands, she tells me that my back is full of knots and she’s not surprised I’m always in pain. She goes on to explain that each knot is a build up of lactic acid that should be released through pressure. The thing I really loved about this particular Deep Tissue Massage is that Laura is particularly attentive and has a knack for picking out those exact hyper-sensitive spots, moving my arm into various positions to slide my shoulder-blade, she’s almost relentless in her mission to iron me out, and regularly asks is the pressure is ok. I can tell she’s frustrated when there are knots that she can’t flatten.
On to the facial and I’ve opted for an Active Peel Facial; it claims to be a powerful and effective natural peel which smoothes, softens and evens out skin tone. A Clarisonic brush cleanse is followed by an intense enzyme peel containing botanical extracts and pumpkin enzymes which exfoliate and remove dead skin cells. I’m no stranger to a glycolic peel and I love the familiar tingling sensation when it eventually begins. Once the peel is removed, skin is massaged with rose quartz crystal rollers which cool and calm the skin and send me into a relaxing trance.
To finish with, I’m handed over to Bronia who sits me down for a Jessica Geleration Polish. Generation delivers a high shine, chip free finish for up to two weeks in a variety of colours. For a small charge you can add nail art or a French polish but I’m a creature of habit and I opt for a Rouge Noir type colour. As most of us already know, gel polish is cured under a lamp and so there’s no drying time – perfect if you need to be out in a hurry and don’t want to sit around waiting for polish to dry, also perfect if, like me, you opt for rich, dark colours. It’s worth noting that help polish should be soaked off when it’s ready to be removed, this way you protect the nail underneath and minimise any damage, the Malmaison offers a soak off service for £15. Bronia is hilarious, she has me cackling like a hyena throughout my polish, kind of like a friend you haven’t seen in a long time.
As my day of treatments draws to a close, I’m taken back to the relaxation room where I’m told I can stay as long as I want, or if I’d prefer, I can use the sauna and drencher bucket shower, there’s no hurry to get rid of me, the vibe here is chilled and relaxed and clients are encouraged to stay and do the same.
One of the great things about the spa at the Malmaison is that there’s no judgement. In an environment where you’re in and out of a robe and very little else for treatments, these girls have seen it all before and they aren’t bothered. I’m sure we’ve all been to that one place where we’ve felt a little uncomfortable but this is not it. Here, it’s just day-to-day business and the girls are completely unaffected. If you’re the nervous or body conscious type, have no fear, the staff here are friendly and professional and within about ten minutes you’ll have forgotten all about the worries you might have had when you arrived.
Le Petit Spa at Malmaison Newcastle is a hidden sanctuary in a busy city, and one that I’ll be returning to. It’s on the Quayside, has its own designated parking and offers every treatment you could possibly want and more. Yes it could do with a lick of paint but that doesn’t affect the treatments. In terms of aesthetics, the spa may have to up its game in the ever-changing sky scape of Newcastle but given the multi-million pound overhaul the hotel has just had, that might not be out of the question. For now though, know that if you’re ever in the city and just fancy a little peace and quiet, or some space to relax, it’s right there, underneath your favourite Quayside hotel. Would I recommend it? Yes, absolutely. It may just change the way you see beauty treatments. It’s a one stop shop and you get a relaxation room thrown into the mix, how many regular beauty salons can boast that? So, go, try it out, and let me know how you get on.
The treatments I had on the day were:
Lycon Hollywood Wax £34
ESPA Body Wrap £60
30 Minute Deep Tissue Massage £42
Active Peel Facial £75
Jessica Geleration Nails £30
Huge thanks to Therapists Laura and Bronia for looking after me all day long!