If you’ve visited John Lewis department store in Newcastle you’ll know it stands as a flagship shopping destination in the city. Along with Fenwick it offers shoppers everything from fashion and beauty to kitchenware and appliances. What you might not know is that hidden in plain sight, is the Beauty Retreat.
You’ll find this urban sanctuary hidden behind smoked glass at the back of the Beauty Hall and I’ll admit, I thought it housed only the Clarins beauty rooms. What’s actually back there is a little more exciting than that….
I was invited along to the inaugural store specific blogger event aimed at discovering the beauty offerings from the department store giant. You guys know already that I work with John Lewis on a national scale already and my ongoing love for inhouse denim brand AND/OR, but the beauty rooms are actually something that despite being right there in plain sight, are actually pretty easy to miss. I’m here to tell you why they’re worth a visit.
I arrived to a super warm welcome from staff and a live performance from Music Newcastle’s David Ball (seriously, look him up, he’s young, hot and uber talented), our coats were whisked away and we were treated to a champagne reception and canapés that looked way too pretty to eat. Well, I say that but I ate about twenty so maybe not strictly true, anyway, after an introduction from Spa Manager Claire, we were divided into two groups to explore on and off counter products and treatments.
With Taster Treatments on offer from Decleor, ESPA, Liz Earle, Elemis and Clarins we were spoilt for choice but managed to indulge in almost everything going. The Retreat is a calming environment, despite being just yards away from the busy shop floor, it’s easy to find peace and tranquility in the soundproofed rooms. So, what’s back there to aid the stressed out shopper in Newcastle?
I hotfooted it to Decleor to try out a condensed version of their signature deep tissue massage on back and shoulders and as usual was told that my body is like a block of concrete. Saying that, this girl almost had me sleeping, her firm touch was perfectly pitched for my aching shoulders and had me mentally adding her to my list of Fashion Voyeur approved Massage Therapists.
Next up I headed to Liz Earle’s dedicated beauty room to hear all about the latest limited edition Hot Cloth Cleanse and Polish. This cult product introduces a limited blend to its fragrance line up each holiday season, it doesn’t stick around and is always worth picking up, if you’re not familiar with the product then basically it does what it says on the tin. it’s a eucalyptus blended cleanser that you ‘polish’ into wet skin using a muslin cloth and it removes ALL traces of grime, dirt and makeup without drying out your skin in the process. The beauty room offers bespoke Liz Earle treatments that can be discussed and booked on counter in the Beauty Hall.
Clarins monopolises the upstairs space with a large counter and treatment spa which looks out over the store through smoked glass. Therapists were on hand to give pressure point massages in those weird massage chairs that you can never quite get comfortable in. The space upstairs is clinical, contemporary and quiet, despite being right in front of the busy department store. With several treatment rooms at their disposal, the Clarins team have a suite of face and body treatments available to book as solo treatments or as a discounted block.
ESPA are a spa specific brand I know and love, much like Decleor, their focus is on the power of aromatic blends which work deep into the muscles and surrounding tissue. Their friendly Therapist was on hand to provide short massage treatments on the neck and shoulders and talk through the ethos behind the brand in the best smelling treatment room I’ve ever been in. There’s also an Elemis beauty counter in the Beauty Hall with all of those candles you’ve come to know and love (Mama Tenenbaum buys me one every Christmas).
Elemis was the last treatment room I visited and personally it’s where things unravelled for me, lack of attention to detail meant I was left with muscle cooling gel in my left eye causing blurred vision and if I’m honest, a pretty scary amount of pain, I wasn’t given any water or anything to try to clean it out, just a cotton pad. Unfortunately my eye and the skin around it swelled and was left bloodshot meaning I couldn’t participate in any of the beauty hall counter action and this lasted long after I’d left the Retreat and arrived home. If you’re booking in, maybe specify no muscle cooling gel on the eye area in advance to avoid any mishaps.
Needless to say, the Beauty Hall itself has some great cult brands represented such as Sisley and Creme de la Mer – if you haven’t tried the Creme de la Mer Tinted Moisturiser then hit up the counter for a three day sample pot straight away, it will change your life. Bobbi Brown gave Influencers an exclusive preview of the new 2017 Christmas Collection ahead of its official launch and Chanel were on hand to give lip makeovers with their signature Rouge a Levres shade collection. Something else you might not know about John Lewis Newcastle is that the GHD counter actually offers hair demonstrations with GHD tools; so if you’ve been wondering how the GHD Curve might work on your hair, or how to create the perfect curl with a flat iron, then pay them a visit on the ground floor, the girls on counter are always happy to help.
All in all it made for a pretty awesome night actually, except for the eye mishap which left me flustered and headache-y. The event itself was very well organised and the staff who man the retreat are friendly and knowledgable when it comes to their specialist areas – especially the team manning the Decleor room.
We were given a programme of events on arrival meaning everything ran to time and we were given ample exploring time, the added bonus of us all being entered into a pretty epic beauty prize draw was the climax of the evening and saw one lucky lady take home £300 worth of Charlotte Tilbury goodies, swoon!
Basically Voyeurs, go check it out, the fact that it’s a separate entity at the back of the store shouldn’t put you off, the team are lovely and they might just manage to revive you if you’re running out of steam during the festive shopping season.
To book an appointment or enquire about the range of services on offer, email BeautyRetreat_Newcastle@johnlewis.co.uk