Smells and bells galore at Lush Spa
A RED light glows, orchestral music plays, and the air is filled with scented fog.
The signature Synaesthesia treatment from handmade cosmetics company Lush is eccentric, to say the least. But rather magical.
It was designed by their MD, Mark Constantine, with the help of a composer and a behavioural therapist, and inspired by his “scent-shape synaesthesia” (apparently, he perceives everything he smells to have a definite shape).
The venue? Their brand new basement-level Edinburgh spa – the first branch in Scotland – with a busy shop upstairs.
Downstairs and, outside the treatment rooms, the space is done-up like a cosy farmhouse kitchen, complete with a long wooden table, where I sat with therapist, Elise, for my consultation.
She pointed out a blackboard with suggested “states of mind” including Ambition, Humour or Peace, chalked onto it. “One of these should pop out,” she explained.
Then, while Elise prepared the light (the aforementioned red glow) and product (a massage bar made from a secret blend of shea butter and essential oils) to suit this theme, I was left to choose an apothecary bottle, from a colourful selection lined up on a long shelf.
I went for a bright red one named Freedom.
After she’d led me through to the treatment room, Elise dropped some of this into a scientific-looking beaker, where it bubbled and released a bergamot-scented mist.
This filled the air and she left me to undress and clamber onto the massage table – there’s a little bell to ring once you’re ready for your therapist to re-enter the room.
A fab body, facial and abdominal rub-down, using tiny hot and cold lava stones is then choreographed to the sound of a score created by Simon Emmerson of folk band The Imagined Village.
The music begins with an “afternoon” theme, then runs into “night time”, complete with owls hooting, before gradually moving into “morning” and back to “afternoon”, when the softly chanted lyrics from Scarborough Fair rouse you from semi-consciousness. “Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,” and you’re back in the room.
Elise is a musician as well as a therapist, so is well qualified to carry out this treatment, which they describe as a “physical ballet”. Don’t expect the quiet incidental music that you’d find in the average spa. It’s louder than usual, so you really have to submit to it.
Afterwards, a cup of tea, brewed using some of the herbs that are in the confidence massage bar, is served at the spa’s farmhouse table.
Post Synaesthesia, I couldn’t get the smile off my face.
You wouldn’t forget this experience in a hurry. It’s completely doolally, but in a very lovely and refreshing way.
• Lush Spa, 115 Princes Street (0131-225 4688, www.lush.co.uk)
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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