From chocolate scrubs in hidden spas to aerial yoga and rolfing, put your wellbeing first this autumn
I used to think that pampering was an extravagance that I couldn’t justify. I would almost judge myself for even thinking about spending money on something as frivolous as a massage. But as the years pass and adulthood becomes relentlessly terrifying, I realise that nothing is more important than a treat. If I’m feeling good in myself, I am better outwardly.
This is how I am justifying the unadulterated pampering I have undergone in the last couple of weeks; below is a list of excellent pampering experiences I’ve tried firsthand (I know, it’s a tough life). Some focus on relaxation, some on beauty, and some on physical and mental health, because what could be more pampering than investing in your long term wellbeing? These are all experiences I would recommend booking for yourself, or for someone special.
SPA FACIAL - LG SKINCARE, £25
LG Skincare is operated by Lauren, a qualified facial therapist living in Leeds. She runs the business from a candlelit room in her home and you can even hear the breeze in the trees outside during your treatment. I’ve been for two spa facials now. She begins by cleansing your face, then gently exfoliating to remove dirt from the pores. The facial involves a massage for lymphatic drainage, and can also help to clear the sinuses. All the products Lauren uses are cruelty-free, and she sources them from local businesses such as Id Aromatics. The treatment really helps bring some much needed hydration to my skin, and I always sleep like a baby when I get home.
SPORTS MASSAGE - CHANGING YOU, FROM £35 PER HOUR
I started seeing Chris Corcoran for monthly massages in 2017 when I was training for an ultra marathon, and I tell everyone that he has healing hands. Sports massage is not necessarily relaxing and can at times be quite uncomfortable, but it’s great for injury prevention, posture, flexibility and circulation. Sports massage can ease the tension we build not only through exercise, but also from working long hours on our feet or hunching over desks. Chris practices from his home, but does travel to some clients. He has worked with professional dancers and sportspeople to help them remain injury free. Chris is also a phenomenal runner and offers fitness coaching.
THE COMFORTER? SPA TREATMENT, LUSH SPA LEEDS, £100
Beneath Lush lies paradise, the Lush Spa. At the bottom of the stairs you find yourself in a charming country kitchen. My therapist Beth explains my treatment, and we smell the products she will be using. Lush curate unique playlists for each treatment, and this one consists of acoustic covers from films. The room is almost completely dark with stars projected all around. I climb into a heated bed and the treatment begins. I don’t want to give away too much, but the treatments involves an exfoliation with chocolate scrub, and a soothing massage with rose oil. The experience is quite clever: at first I’m so cosy and comfortable that I feel almost ready to sleep but - as the treatment progresses and the music, temperatures and aromas change - I feel ever more invigorated. By the time it’s finished, I feel silky smooth, alert and ready for a productive day. We finish with a special drink and I’m told to relax as long as I like before leaving. This is my second visit to the Lush Spa, and it’s worth every penny. A luxurious experience, and the perfect gift for a loved one.
LVL LASHES - LASHED LEEDS, £45
You may think that getting your lashes done is something to rush while running errands in town, somewhere between groceries and getting your phone screen fixed. Wrong. Visiting Lashed provides an opportunity for the best nap of your life. The salon is beautifully decorated in muted greys and pinks, and beds complete with blankets line the window, which offers an impressive panoramic view of the city. I opted for the LVL Lashes as I prefer a natural look. Your natural lashes are tinted and lifted from the root to create the effect of longer, fuller lashes. The team here are perfectionists and I’m so pleased with the results, I can’t see myself booking anywhere else in the future. Lashed is the little sister salon of...
GEL MANICURE - PASTILLE £26.50
As expected, Pastille is also beautifully decorated. I opt for a simple manicure with a little nail art. Laura, my friendly nail technician, helps me choose colours and design - then works with speed and precision to execute it flawlessly. There’s a pleasant level of chatter in the open plan salon; we share Netflix recommendations and generally have a giggle. Pastille provides a sophisticated service and an opportunity to relax and socialise. The salon focuses on quality and nail health, so dosen’t offer acrylic and other treatments may damage your nails.
DERMAPLANING - ADVANCED SKIN LOUNGE, £35
Dermaplaning is an exfoliation method that uses a surgical-grade scalpel to scrape the surface of your skin. It sounds terrifying, but it’s quite relaxing once you stop thinking about Sweeney Todd. It removes dead skin cells and dirt as well as baby fuzz, or in my case, full sideburns. It takes about 30 minutes and I’ve been blown away by the results. I’ve been having breakouts recently, which started to clear up the following day. My face looks a little more sculpted, and my boyfriend thought I’d been on the sunbed because I had such a healthy glow. The salon offers a variety of treatments, and the team come from medical backgrounds. If you’re interested in more invasive procedures such as fillers or botox this place gets my vote.
AERIAL YOGA - LEEDS AERIAL ARTS, £15 PER SESSION
I’ve visited Leeds Aerial Arts before to take on the aerial hoop, so I thought I’d see what aerial yoga is all about. Instructor Gaby has a background in dance, and this really comes across in the class. It’s unlike any yoga I’ve done before, the movements are very fluid and playful, and we are constantly encouraged to move in ways that we feel will release tension and create space. It’s quite the workout; I ache a little the following day so I know I’ve worked hard. Gaby has a great playlist, the lights are dimmed and incense burns through the session. The yoga sling is a lot of fun, allowing us to stretch in new ways, and test our strength too. I manage to contort myself into various upside down poses, and really enjoy the sensation of relinquishing control and just swinging in the fabric. The end of class brings the ultimate relaxation as we cocoon ourselves in the slings and allow ourselves to just hang. When booking through the Mindbody App, you can get your first 3 sessions for £30.
BATHING SESSIONS - HARROGATE TURKISH BATHS, FROM £19
It’s not in Leeds, but this list wouldn’t be complete without it. Harrogate Turkish Baths is Britain's most fully restored Victorian Turkish Baths, boasting stunning Moorish design and Isalmic arches. Spend an afternoon moving from saunas of varying heat to the steam room and icy plunge pool. I first visited years ago after an obstacle course, hobbling about with stiff muscles, and left feeling mobile and relaxed. This is the perfect way to really unwind, take a good book and drink plenty of water. Be sure to check out their list of spa treatments too.
ROLFING - ROLFING IN LEEDS, FROM £70
The intention of Rolfing is not to diagnose conditions or treat isolated injuries. It's about approaching the body as a whole, working with our connective tissue (fascia) to create alignment and space for long term benefits. Rolfing practitioner Jennifer-Lynn compares fascia with the white pith inside an orange; it's the complex web that holds everything together, from muscles to nerves and organs. We begin the session by talking about my body and the things I notice about it. Having recently finished a year of treatment for tuberculosis, I have some residual issues with tension around my chest and joint stiffness - I experience some level of pain almost constantly. Jennifer-Lynn observes me walking, sitting, standing and making small movements. This is done in my underwear, and despite usually being very uncomfortable about being seen, I feel at ease here. I lie down and we do some work around my neck and chest, and also around my hips. Some of the adjustments Jennifer-Lynn makes are so subtle I barely feel them, some are done with more pressure, it is unlike any physical therapy I have experienced before.
The session requires you to engage actively, answering questions and noticing how each small adjustment makes you feel. As I stand up I am surprised to find myself feeling considerably looser, my arms swing more freely as I walk, the paint I usually feel in my hips has diminished, and there is something easier in my breath. I'm looking forward to booking another session soon and seeing how we can build on the benefits from my first visit. Rolfing is an investment in long term physical wellbeing, and Jennifer-Lynn works with each client to create sessions unique to their needs. I would recommend this to anyone looking to combat those imbalances and tensions caused by everyday living, those years of carrying groceries on one shoulder or long spells of typing at a desk.