There are times when I truly love my job. I’m typing this, swathed in a fluffy white robe, at the antique desk in my suite at the Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath.
I pitched up yesterday, rather hot and more than a little wet and windswept, pulling my M&S case behind me like a reluctant terrier.
‘Do you have a car, madam?’
‘Nope, just me.’ Smiling brightly and wiping a line of perspiration off my forehead.
‘Just the one case?’
Not sure he got that one.
If you’re going to detox you may as well do it somewhere nice and the Royal Crescent is nice, very nice. Location? Couldn’t be more gorgeous if it tried. Style? Trades on its neo-Classical good looks to the extreme with that rather grand yet extremely comfy English country house look: big squashy sofas, swathed four posters, antiques hanging around louchely as if they were just any old IKEA job-lot. I was expecting a nice room but I wasn’t expecting an entire suite, complete with a chandelier, fireplace (working) and a massive Joshua Reynolds (yes, the real mccoy) on the wall. Seriously you could fit the average modern house into this and have room to spare.
It’s a bit weird though, staying in a hotel prized for its food and wine and not being able to eat or drink it. I reckon it would have been kind to have removed the wine list and the menu from the welcome pack and though my view out the front looks over a nicely healthy green to the hills beyond, from the bedroom I can watch the diners trip-trap in and out of The Dower House restaurant. Still. I have my tree syrup and lemon juice flask and, weirdly, wonderfully, I haven’t been hungry since I got here (and we’re talking well over 24 hours now).
The spa is a good ‘un. It’s small and down-to-earth and the therapists know what they’re doing and clearly enjoy their work. The actual workhouse part of the spa is earthy and organic, with rough slate floors and dim lights – very kind to the less than svelte. Actually, it was a huge relief to find that the clientele at the Bath House are not size zero supermodels but nicely solid, chunky forty-pluses on the whole, serenely swimming up and down the very warm pool.
It’s pretty evenly mixed between men and women too. I plunged into the steam room to find someone, a male someone, already sitting there. Now it’s OK if there are several people, and it’s OK if you’re the only one – but just two of you is always a bit uneasy. I tend to keep schtum other than a polite nod and sat down opposite, tucking one leg up underneath. After a few minutes I realised this was a very uncomfortable position and swung my leg up and into a half-lotus (nothing smart about it, just always been able to do it and find it comfortable).
‘Aha,’ said my steam-mate who, judging by his accent was American.
‘So you’re meditating? Good idea.’
And he promptly swung up his legs and placed his hands on his knees and started breathing deeply.
Dear God. So, we sat like that for what seemed like forever. Him meditating; me pretending I was meditating and wondering how long a decent steam session meditation might take.
Finally he got up.
‘Thank you so much,’ he said. ‘I never realised that was what you’re supposed to do.’
He’ll probably go back to LA and set up sauna meditation (though they probably already do it).
I went off for my reflexology session with a lovely woman called Pam who told me that my liver was ‘stressed’ and that I had problems with my ears, bladder and immune system. ‘Good job you’re having a detox,’ she said sympathetically.
I slept for a straight twelve hours and then spent a couple of hours being scrubbed and hosed and then massaged by the fab Fran, who has the wonderful nack of knowing when to chatter inanely (when your boobs are being swept hither and thither by a strong shower jet) and when to be silent (when you’re being soothed into slumber).
I love nothing more than a massage but I do wish someone would invent a massage table that not only has a hole for your face but also a couple for your boobs and hey, maybe one for the stomach too.
I shared this thought with Fran and she burst out laughing.
‘Actually that’s a really horrible idea, isn’t it?’ I said, imagining my tits hanging down under the table like udders.
So now I’m back in my room(s) and, though I suppose I should be catching up on emails and so on, the bed is calling and, hey, it would be plain rude not to make the most of it, wouldn’t it?