From the very first time I plopped a fizzing Bath Bomb into my bath and sat there smiling like a loon as the sweet aroma enveloped my skin, I was hooked on Lush! Who wouldn’t love a company that produces natural, handmade cosmetics with quirky names and formulas like Dirty Toothy Tabs and Honey I Washed My Hair Shampoo Bars? It may sound a little bit Willy Wonka bonkers but, so what? It works! So, as I wandered down the King’s Road a while back, I thought I’d pop into Lush and try their Spa – could the Synaesthesia Treatment I’d heard about live up to the weird and wonderful Lush reputation? Downstairs in the shop is the Spa area, which looks like a quaint country kitchen – all distressed wooden tables, vintage china cups and dried flowers. What makes it different from Granny’s cottage in Devon is the array of glass bottles of all shapes and sizes containing different coloured liquids and little name tags a la Alice in Wonderland. But instead of Drink Me and Eat Me, they are named things like Determination, Laugh and Content. As I fill out the consultation form, I decide it’s a cross between wizard’s workshop and country cottage chic. So far, so strange…in a good way! My therapist, Ashley, explains what I’m going to experience in tones of a schoolteacher reading her class a fascinating fairtytale: Synaesthesia is the Lush signature treatment – an 80 minute full body massage…but with a difference. Not only is it choreographed to music that’s been specially composed by an orchestra, but it combines secret essential oils chosen for the individual. I’m told that with all of my senses being engaged at once, I am about to go on a journey through my subconscious mind so that I’ll leave the spa feeling transformed! Wow. I wouldn’t have been surprised if a Fairy Godmother appeared in a puff of smoke!
Before the treatment begins I choose a word from the blackboard that I would like more of. I study them carefully… Humour, Confidence, Mind Cleanser, Esteem…I’m supposed to choose one that resonates with me and so I pick Enlightened. I’m then asked to write it on the chalkboard in front of me while Ashley fetches over 2 bars of massage soap made with oils and on the soaps is stamped the word enlightened. These will be used during the treatment and now I choose one of the tinctures in the little glass bottles of oil for my treatment but I’m not to smell it as it must be the word, and not the scent, that draws me to it. I like the look of Laugh – a huge orange bottle, but I’m strangely drawn to a little bottle of ‘determined’ instead…I’m not sure why.
In the treatment room, Ashley starts work at her ‘cauldron’ – a large, stainless steel pot in which oils are dripped and then, she takes a glass flask and pours in a few drops of liquid from my chosen bottle and I watch wide eyed as it bubbles away and clouds of white steam begin to puff out and around like in a magical science lab. The flask contains dry ice and the aromas of the oils will now take hold in the room, ready for the treatment. Cool! Laying face down on the treatment bed, my mind is buzzing with what I’ve got on that day. Do I really have 80 minutes to spend being massaged and are ‘all the extras’ just smoke and mirrors? I’ll soon find out…
The heated massage bar is stroked over my back and I begin to hear ‘morning’; gentle birdsong, bicycle wheels riding over cobbled stones and the soft chiming of distant church bells. I can immediately see in my mind a sunny village as day breaks! The massage is as soothing as the sounds and as the orchestra starts up and the fiddles and guitars come into their own, Ashley uses a deeper and quicker technique. I find it quite remarkable how she works in time with the music and I love the composition – it almost reminds me of a track in a feel-good movie when something joyous is about to happen. So, I start to relax a bit more and allow my mind to wonder from my to-do list and concentrate instead on the music and massage. As I’m about to drift off, the massage strokes become slower and my back muscles unknot while a mystic singing voice begins to warble on about the moonlight…it could almost be Kate Bush! I notice how the feel of the music has gone from day to night and feel my eyes closing…
It’s time to turn over and as the second half of the massage begins, the music changes tack; it starts again with beautiful bird song but now there’s a happy hippy vibe going on! I notice a Beatle’s Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band influence as guitars twang and harmonicas buzz and during a blissful foot massage, my mind unexpectedly starts to take flight! Green swirls dance in front of my eyelids and yellow ribbons of light flash through my mind while the music reaches a crescendo and I start to smile. I get the whole senses journey now! The synchronicity of the music and massage and the scents of the oils has made me feel lifted in body and spirit.
The final part of the treatment’s ‘journey’ starts with warm stones being placed on my chakras in a line down my body to balance energy while Ashley alternates between using icy cold stones and warm oil around the pressure points on my face and eye sockets. It feels unusual but delightful. I must say I’m not quite as delighted with the dulcet tones of a male voice singing Simon and Garfunkel’s Scarborough Fair but by this point my time is nearly up and I definitely feel more relaxed than when I entered!
I get changed slowly and see my scribbled word, enlightened, on the chalkboard left on the side and while drinking black tea with special ‘enlightening’ herbs back in ‘Granny’s kitchen’ I feel as if I’ve experienced something quite special.
The Lush Signature Synaesthesia Treatment Costs £125 at the Lush Spa 123 Kings Road, London SW3 4PL. Call 020 7376 8348 for further details of treatments and spas.