THIS is the ultimate facial, a treatment you wish would just go on and on and on – and at two hours and 30 minutes, it does.
Following its £24 million upgrade to make it a Waldorf Astoria hotel, The Caledonian went for luxury and exclusivity by plumping for Guerlain when it came to choosing its new spa partner. Since this is the only spa the beauty and fragrance house has in Scotland, you really are getting something that’s not available elsewhere. This is further emphasised by the Caledonian team having added unique touches to the Guerlain method (Saltire cross massage strokes and fingertip raindrop simulation) to reflect the Scottish location, in a treatment menu that runs from facials to massages to make-up lessons.
Guerlain has prided itself on knowing about facials, ever since it opened its first Institut de Beauté on the Champs-Elysées in 1939, and invented an exclusive facial massage technique. This version is its top-of-the-range treatment and uses the brand’s Orchidée Impériale products aimed at the skin of those over 35.
The experience starts immediately as you enter the spa’s world of white on white, all fluffy robes and drapes. First off you’re presented with a choice of five Guerlain fragrances to “guide you on your journey” and help select the treatment tailored to your needs; revitalising, sleep-inducing or muscle relaxing.
A soothing footbath sets the tone and then it’s on with the facial. After cleansing and toning with kabuki brushes, an experience akin to being stroked with cat tails, a steamer machine is wheeled in to open the pores. Next come the “gymnastiques”; movements designed to give the face a workout, get the blood circulating and rejuvenate the skin. This treatment involves three different massages, alternating deeper movements with softer strokes, so the entire face, neck, décolletage and shoulders are stimulated. The idea is this will redefine the facial contours and smooth out wrinkles.
Then, since good things come in threes, there are three face masks to nourish, soothe and rejuvenate the skin, each one rendering it smoother than the previous one. In between all the masks and massages there are further treats such as a choice of brow shaping, brow or eyelash tint or superaqua eye patches, then a hand massage and paraffin hand wrap, facial exfoliation, eye pillows and serums, a scalp massage and a half leg and foot massage.
Launched on its journey to “rediscover its youth” my skin took the rest of me with it and at some point I drifted off and slept like a baby. Hours later I emerged with skin so soft, nourished and moist that even the biting winds of Princes Street were rendered powerless against this final word in facials.
• Guerlain Spa at The Caledonian, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Princes Street, Edinburgh (0131-222 8836, www.guerlainspaedinburgh.com)