SPA DOCTOR: Avoid stranger danger… in a Covid-safe spa suite for one
A house move, increasingly uncomfortable back pain and the pandemic have left me craving a restorative spa trip.
But given the events of the past 18 months, I am yet to feel comfortable sharing a stuffy sauna with strangers.
Perhaps I am being over-cautious, but I still don’t fancy being up close and personal with a masseuse in a windowless therapy room. Who knows who may have been on the bed before me, coughing and spluttering?
There’s something about the process that, in a post-Covid world, feels unhygienic.
The Lake District’s Gilpin Hotel – a five-star retreat in Windermere – is now offering a Covid-friendly experience, with guests staying in one of three dedicated Spa Suites. Pictured: A therapy chair inside a Spa Suite
Thankfully, the Lake District’s Gilpin Hotel – a five-star retreat in Windermere – is now offering a Covid-friendly experience, with guests staying in one of three dedicated Spa Suites. The spacious lodges are set back from the hotel, offering sprawling views of the mountains as well as private ponds and hot tubs.
Each suite is attached to its own spa that comes complete with sauna, steam room, massage beds, infrared ceiling lights (which I’m told can have anti-ageing effects on the skin) and a state-of-the-art electric massage chair.
Guests can venture to the hotel’s two restaurants – including the Michelin-starred Hrishi – but speedy room service dropped off by mask-wearing staff outside the door means there’s little need to.
The stay actually requires very little face-to-face time with staff members or other guests. Food-ordering and checking in (apart from the swift exchange of keys) can all be done via a smartphone.
A 15-minute reflexology massage courtesy of the in-room chair – the latest in Japanese technology, offering six complex treatments including head massages – takes the edge off my back pain. But then I bite the bullet and opt for a Swedish massage, designed to combat stress and lower-back twinges.
When the therapist arrives, I am directed into my suite’s spa to lie on my personal massage bed, while the doors are opened for an all-important flow of fresh air.
At first it feels odd. Pre-Covid, I frequently enjoyed a massage, but having been without one for two years, I struggle to relax into it.
The slow movements rocking the knots out of my shoulders help distract me from the thoughts in my head. Calming ocean noises, played on the speakers in every corner of the suite, make me sleepy.
About half an hour into the hour-long treatment, I feel both the tightness in my back and the anxious feelings begin to melt away. Best of all, my therapist makes no attempt at conversation, as if she knows I can’t stand chit-chat.
Afterwards, she collects her tools and off she goes, leaving me to wash off the massage oils under the huge walk-in rainforest shower while gazing at the frosty hills ahead.
The following day I felt fully relaxed, with my back pain eased. Best of all, I had encountered a total of one other person – and that, by my account, is a getaway that dreams are made of.
One night in a Spa Suite costs £850, based on two sharing (thegilpin.co.uk).