REVIEW A Relaxing Spa Experience In Manchester That's More Like A Reinvention
A real eye-opener
Desk workers know more than anyone how bad slouching and hunching over in front of your PC is for your back.
But unless you have a live-in masseuse - ooer - there's no way you haven't struggling with tension in your body and aching muscles at some point.
We went to the branch at the Hilton Manchester on Deansgate in the stratospheric Betham Tower.
Vertigo sufferers, do not worry - it's a second-floor spa and you don't see outside into the real world once you're cocooned into this mellow space.
When we arrived, two ladies were relaxing in the reception area in white fluffy bathrobes.
It looked appealing to us already.
We filled in forms about our current health, and then were ushered into our own rooms - mine with the enticing image of the Buddha painted on the wall.
There are three private treatment rooms - including a room for two and a space for you to relax in pre and post-treatment.
We had signed up for the Butterfly Transformation Ritual - the spa's most popular signature treatment.
My treatment was performed by Ricky, who spoke in an incredibly soothing, low voice to tell me to strip to my underwear and climb under the blanket for her return.
It was roasting in there - the towel was heating - so when she came back, I asked for the air conditioning to be put on, which she was totally fine with.
She asked if I had regular massages - I don't - and if I was ready - I was - and she got to work.
First, lying on my stomach and with my head through that keyhole for comfort, Ricky started acupressure on my back.
She worked gently at first and then more firmly, pressing on different parts of my upper and lower back.
It's always an unusual feeling to start, having a stranger touching your back, but I soon relaxed into it, feeling the tension leaving my muscles with each touch.
The next part was the aromatherapy massage, where Ricky used soothing scented oils to take me to a different, calmer level - or at least, she tried her best.
As it is, I'm not brilliant as relaxing, but I was concentrating really hard on the lavender scent and trying to meditate.
In the end, I gave up thinking about relaxing and just enjoyed the feeling of Ricky working on my muscles - which in its own way was relaxing enough.
Ricky then did an Indian Head Massage on me, working her magic fingers through my hair and really getting all of that tension out of my scalp.
Physically and mentally I was feeling the benefits of lying in a darkened room with gentle music playing, but the next step was where the emotional mind came into it.
Ricky launched into reiki, a method for reducing stress and promoting healing which allowed her to lay her hands on me and really get to the crux of my stress and tension.
It was a very personal - and intimate - experience, and helped me see the 'butterfly' part of the transformation, as I was really engaged with the process inside and out.
Finally came reflexology, where Ricky concentrated on my feet to soothe and ease my body from the bottom.
She was able to tell that I've been suffering with a bad back recently - the hardness of my feet show that I've been walking to compensate for the ache - and told me that it's something I should be doing once a month.
When all was done and she rang the tiny bell to wake me, I was left alone to dress and - somewhat reluctantly - drift out of the haze and back into the reception area.
The Butterfly Transformation Ritual is exactly what it sounds like - treating every inch of you, from back, neck and shoulders down to legs and feet.
I left feeling like a new me, even though I was doubtful of how much it would actually work beforehand - and I cannot wait to get back there.
The Butterfly Transformation Ritual costs £80 for 70 minutes. For more information or to book, go to the website.