REVIEW: LavaShell Massage
Could retreating underground for a massage with hot rocks be the perfect escape after the festive frenzy? Muddy Warwickshire's Rhiannon was all too obliging to give it a try, at Leamington’s stylish salon The Beauty Rooms.
It’s pouring with rain and my head’s spinning with wedding menus and paint charts. As someone attempting to plan a wedding, renovate a new home and navigate the new year all at the same time (nothing like burning it at both ends!), I’m in serious need of some R&R. The Beauty Rooms in Leamington Spa – a Muddy Award winner in 2019 – has often caught my eye, with ritzy gold lettering and art deco styling; and now, on this dismal morning, it’s time to step over the threshold and under the chandelier to check in for my indulgent treat of a full body LavaShell Massage.
The Beauty Rooms comprise two venues a few doors apart from each other, situated on Clarendon Street in Leamington town centre. They’re easily accessible from the main shopping district, with its multiple car parking options and variety of cafes (one of which I curled up in after my treatment, to extend the luxury).
The main salon is the building at the top of the street, which is where most of the massages, facials and ‘quiet’ treatments are conducted. The other Room, a couple of doors down, has a livelier buzz; you head here for grooming typically accompanied by a good chinwag, such as brow and nail work. But, owner Harriet explains that both venues do have capacity to conduct all treatments; so, if you’re indulging in both a facial and a pedicure, you won’t have to brave the elements in between!
Harriet began her entrepreneurial journey in the world of beauty very young, opening her first treatment rooms in a Leamington Spa hotel aged just 21. Her zeal for what she does is palpable; she’s in her therapist’s uniform when I meet her, zipping between clients and evidently fizzing from a love of delivering treatments first-hand. Harriet opened The Beauty Rooms’ original venue seven years ago. Three years ago, she seized the opportunity to expand into the second premises, creating the charming, boutique-y feel the salon has today.
I complete my client health questionnaire and am led downstairs, sub-pavement, to a spacious treatment chamber. The lights are way down low and the Moroccan-esque metal window coverings glow with soft spots of gold. If anywhere is going to have the power to make me forget about busy life for a while, it’s here. I can no longer hear traffic or rainfall; just tranquil music. It could be any time of day or night outside…I’ve stopped caring.
I lay on the warm waterbed and my therapist gets to work, checking first that I’m comfortable with the temperature of her hands and the soothing lavender-scented oil. She doesn’t offer up conversation – I guess that, for maximum relaxation, I’d remain quiet – but I’m a talker, so I start asking questions and she’s happy to chat away. I discover that LavaShell is an improvement on the old method of using hot rocks; the rocks went from very hot to cool and useless very quickly, so massages were interrupted whilst new ones were retrieved from the heater. In contrast, LavaShell uses Tiger Clam shells from the Tropics, filled with a solution which warms and retains heat for far longer.
The shells feel lovely as they glide over my skin, somehow nicer than a conventional massage using just hands. Every so often, a shell is popped into my hand and I enjoy turning its smooth, warm form around in my palm. I ask the therapist whether she’s following a general pattern or improvising and she explains that she adapts how she massages according to where she thinks I need pressure applying.
I’m not usually one to lay still for a long period of time and, prior to my appointment, I worried I would have itchy feet by the end of it. However, the hour passed at a dreamy pace and it felt a long enough break from life’s hamster wheel to zen me out, but not so long that I started making mental task lists.
When my time is up, I head back into reception where I’m given a glass of water by Harriet and advised to keep hydrated for the rest of the day.
The 60-minute full body massage costs £55; alternatively, you can opt for a back, neck and shoulders version for £40, which lasts 30 minutes.
I spend the next few hours with that unrivaled post-spa feeling; calm and cosy with soft skin that smells amazing. I’m not sure if it’s psychosomatic, but I am hugely thirsty for a while, so Harriet’s advice to take on plenty of water is easily heeded!
My experience at the Beauty Rooms fulfilled my wish of taking time out to recharge and its town centre location meant it provided an efficient a ‘quick fix’; I didn’t have to travel and I was settled in a café back at my laptop within minutes afterwards (complete with bonus inner glow).
The facial skin care offering at the salon has recently been expanded and there’s a good choice of the more tech-y treatments, such as Comcit (Cryo Oxygen Microchannelling Collagen Induction Therapy), Crystal Clear Microdermabrasion and CryoPen, along with a range of facials using results-driven Elemis products. Sounds like a great way to revive after Christmas?…I’ll be back!