Forget chocolates and flowers. Facegoop tests three spa stays in the name of love (and peacekeeping)
M: What do you think of Valentine’s Day, E?
E: It’s an abomination. A carnival of smugness and poor aesthetics. All those women on the bus brandishing their bunches of flowers: “Look at me! Someone loves me!” Shut up. You?
M: Same. All that pink, all that pressure. All that wasting of good trees on terrible cards. The problem is, E – and I’m ashamed to admit this – that as much as I decry the whole saccharine affair, I always feel left out if I don’t get anything. And I never do, for I am bitter and hissing.
E: True. I want to kick the bus women in the shins, but there’s a tragic element of envy there too.
M: I don’t want flowers, though. They die after a few days, then fester around until you can be bothered to throw them out. And I’m not touching chocolate again until Easter.
E: Don’t even talk to me about lingerie. Highly flammable. Ugly. So ill-fitting you look like you have four boobs. So what’s your ideal Valentine’s Day gift, M?
M: A spa stay, E. Delightfully decadent, wonderfully restorative, will transform any shrieking harridan (me) into a sweetly smiling compassionate creature, all for 10 extortionately priced cocktails.
E: Huh. The last time I went on a “spa day” I cried solidly for four hours about my impending mortality, but you can try and convince me I’m doing spas wrong. Meanwhile, I’ll be composing a list of cosy home spa-lite treats your beloved could gift you, or you could gift yourself. Can be carried ostentatiously on a bus if you wish.
Best for: the mother of your children
Yes, it’s dear, but how many hours was she in labour? Hmmm? Take the kids to Koffmann’s downstairs for a proper breakfast (freshly squeezed juice, regressive eggs with soldiers, plump salmon bagels) while the light of your life suns herself by the rooftop pool (children are allowed there at set hours too). There’s a sweet little outdoor cinema showing black-and-white classics and unbeatable views over Hyde Park.
Bring A deep-conditioning hair treatment to slather on before a steam session. Daniel Galvin Jr’s Organic Head Detox Masque makes my brittle straw-like hair shiny and smooth – a bargainous miracle at £4.
Try The Bamford Body Signature Treatment (£150 for 85 minutes), a massage combining muscle work with breathing techniques that feels a bit like someone doing yoga for you. Deeply relaxing.
Soundtrack Hippie Mandolin Jams Volume Four.
Best bit Having warm, moist flannel slippers pulled on mid-massage.
Worst bit I love a good face massage, but the one towards the end of this treatment was perfunctory.
Best for: a not-so-squeaky-clean weekend
Because sometimes you need a bit of cheese to spice things up, hop on the Eurostar and head to the sexy 16th arrondissement. No really. It may be in a respectable, residential neighbourhood, but inside the hotel is all smoked-glass bathrooms, humongous tubs and a super intimate steam room and Jacuzzi that will feel like your very own. And, if you get in the mood for big romantic gestures, the Eiffel Tower is just across the Seine.
Bring A big tub of muscle-relaxing nerve-soothing magnesium-rich epsom salts (£1.49) to dissolve in the Deluxe Rooms’ huge Japanese tubs.
Try The Hot Stones Ritual (€120 for 60 minutes). Smooth, warmed stones are placed around pressure points and used for massage. I was sceptical, but it was oddly relaxing and I fell asleep.
Best bit A strong calf massage with hot stones placed in the crook of you knee. Sounds weird, but such a relief after pounding the Paris pavements for hours.
Worst bit Small cold stones rubbed on my face felt like I was being massaged with marbles. I struggled not to giggle.
Best for: single indulgence
It’s Valentine’s, you’re single and it sucks. Where do you go? Booking a room here gives you (and a guest) all-night entry at so-hip-it-hurts members-only hangout Shoreditch House. Steam in the hammam, pose by the rooftop pool, order the deep-friend Brussels sprouts (trust us on this one), flirt with the barmen. Oh yes, and the spa’s rather good, too.
Bring Nothing. There’s a whole range of full-sized Cowshed products to use (including four shower gels and a massage oil), and lots of lovely samples to take home.
Try The Cowshed Moody Massage (£70 for 60 minutes), an aromatic oil massage tailored to your stresses.
Soundtrack Philip Glass and Erik Satie’s love child.
Best bit My therapist, Zoe, must have performed some sort of Vulcan nerve pinch on me: I left the spa feeling floppy and dazed. At dinner I was so glass-eyed my friend had to explain to the waitress I wasn’t stoned, just spa-ed.
Worst bit Everyone else looks about 16.
Facegoop’s V-Day home spa treats
Light a couple of candles, drape a towel over the mildew and your bathroom could totally be in a suite in Claridges. Just add these moderately priced spa treats for the full experience.
For that authentic hamman feel, get yourself a tub of Moroccan black soap (£4.50): it’s softening and exfoliating with a tingling eucalyptus scent and if you close your eyes, for a few glorious minutes you can believe you’re on that sexy city break to Marrakech.
The Body Shop’s Monoi Oil (£10) is like sunshine in a bottle: the coconut and gardenia smells of happy holiday memories and it’s perfect for massage, sensuous (ew) or otherwise.
If you really must have roses, the REN Mini Rose Gift Set (£18) is a classy way to do it: the Rose Otto bath oil is justifiably famous for its gorgeous, true rose scent and you get a mini body wash and body cream too.
Also on Facegoop this week: win a REN anti-ageing night cream (pro tip: do NOT give this as a Valentine’s gift) by thinking of words beginning with V.