January can be a miserable month. The joys of Christmas indulgences are long gone, and twinkling lights and glittery decorations have been replaced by cold, dark, drizzly nights. The morning alarm feels more punishing than usual. You’re feeling heavy and sluggish. And then all the bills arrive at once.
What we really crave is a holiday somewhere warm, but the bank balance won’t allow it. It’s the perfect time, then, for a pick-me-up. A little treat which only takes up a day, doesn’t cost the earth, and leaves you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to face the winter slog head-on.
Luckily, there’s just the place. The ultra-modern Spa at The Midland is a serene space which feels a million miles away from the bustle of town. A place to recharge when you’re tired, frazzled and chilled to the bone.
An array of thermal experiences includes a traditional alder wood sauna with Himalayan salt block wall heated at 85 degrees, a salt-infusion aromatherapy steam room, Caribbean storm and Arctic rain showers to stimulate the circulation, and a heated relaxation pool with a swan neck fountain to relieve neck and shoulder tension.
There are four relaxation areas to escape from the stresses of everyday life, featuring inviting hanging pods, beds, and lounge zones with sound-cancelling egg-shaped chairs that look like they’re from a 1960s movie set in the future.
You can take advantage of all this on a spa day package, which starts from £89 per person including a treatment.
I went along to try the new ESPA Comfort & Joy spa day, which promises to “comfort winter skin, warm tired muscles and restore a sense of joy for the winter season.”
The day includes full use of the spa and thermal experiences and use of a robe and slippers, plus a 55-minute treatment consisting of hot stone back massage, express facial and scalp massage, and a healthy lunch or afternoon tea in the spa cafe.
You also get a free gift – a pretty box with a selection of miniature ESPA goodies, worth £25. It’s like Christmas again. A present makes everyone feel better.
What also makes everyone feel better is booking a day off work to be thoroughly pampered.
A few leisurely lengths of the pool and some deep breathing in the hot steam room, and I’m already feeling much calmer. I sink into the jacuzzi and feel my shoulders drop.
The treatment itself is simply heavenly. It starts with a hot stone massage which uses aromatherapy oils and warm volcanic stones to relieve deep muscle tension. The warmth of the stones penetrates muscles to soothe aches and pains – and it feels undeniably lovely on a frosty January day.
Then it’s time to flip over for the facial and scalp massage. My skin is dry and sensitive, says the therapist. Hardly surprising given the punishing daily winter cycle of being outside in bitterly cold wind and then being inside or on trains with fierce central heating.
She gently applies hydrating milk and toner, a polishing exfoliator and an intensive moisturiser, and my skin is soon feeling softer and looking brighter than it has in a while. The scalp massage starts to send me to sleep. They should take that as a compliment.
The food is good, too. I try the vegetarian platter, which is packed with healthy fare: a little bowl of leek and potato soup; a cucumber and mint crème fraiche sandwich; goats cheese mousse with pickled beetroot and rocket; veggie Nicoise salad with fine beans, quail egg and olives; and dessert of dark chocolate cake with salted caramel and sour cream.
They know what they’re doing. In November, The Spa at the Midland won Best Urban Spa in the Good Spa Guide Awards 2018. It was also awarded the prestigious ‘5 Bubble’ rating for the fourth consecutive year by the Good Spa Guide.
Warm and welcoming, this place really is an oasis of calm in the city centre. Everyday worries, to-do lists and packed schedules all melt away. There’s no better way to beat the January blues.
The limited edition ESPA Comfort & Joy spa day is available at The Spa at the Midland Monday to Friday until 8th February and costs £89pp (£109pp on Fridays).