Archives for the month of: March, 2018

What a dream London is. Truly, a star!

My first time in Lodnon may have well been a once in a lifetime kind of trip (let’s hope not). I have to give credit where credit is due so I don’t have to dance around the fact that this whole weekend was an early birthday present from my beau (who lives in Barcelona, Spain, and I in Prague) and a gift for us to spend more time together. I am positive I would have gone to London this year had I not met mi amore (as we call each other) but I would most certainly not have seen and experienced London in such a sophisticated way. #grateful

To skip the mushy gushy details of the weekend I will jump into the spa treatment and amenities I experienced there.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetWe flew in on Friday afternoon checked into the Mondrian London – on the Thames river(!) – …went for a walk along said river in the rain … oh yea, no mushy gushy details! 😉 We planned to have our joint spa day in the hotel’s “Agua Spa” Saturday morning. So after an incredible dinner at Sketch London (highly recommend) Friday night, we awoke Saturday, went down for breakfast in the beautiful water-front restaurant and then made our way through the hotel, down to the second level where the direct elevator dropped us off at the reception desk of the spa. We were quickly attended to and asked to sit down in the bright and white lobby and fill out a questionnaire on an iPad.

Might I mention how much I am loving these “tucked” sofas as I have been seeing them called. This had more of a banquette style than an actual sofa but the tailored and tight look of it was great.

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Anyway, shortly after we finished with the iPad we were taken back into the glowing white sinuously walled premises of the spa. Mi amore chose to have an 80 minute manicure and pedicure while I opted for an 80 minute facial. The nail salon was at the entrance to the facilities so he and I parted ways here and the attendant guided me into the women’s locker room where she showed me how to use the lock on the locker and then where to wait for my esthetician.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetI undressed, knowing my facial was going to also include my décolletage, slipped into my robe and slippers and made my way to the relaxation room.

Let’s pause here and talk about the relaxation room (first photo). Can you say on point? Literally! What a unique way to make a (what could be meek) space into something so sensual and artistic by way of color, sculpture, elements, textures and space planning. They brought the sinuous lines of the walls into the room by creating a stair-like and pillowed seating area in one corner of the room. And with help of angled white curtains, terry-clothed lounge chairs were segregated into their own area that viewed onto the water sculpture. And of course no relaxation room is complete without the tea and snacks console. A gorgeous use of space. It’s incredible how shapes, colors and elements can transform four walls.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetMoving on. I went into this relaxation room where my esthetician promptly came to retrieve me. She was a sweet young woman who smiled, and walked me to the room where she asked me to de-robe and lie on the facial bed face-up under the towels while she exited the room. One thing I want to mention that I appreciated was that I asked for her to grab some chapstick (as I forgot mine beforehand and did not want to sit through a facial appointment with chapped lips) and sure enough when she came in and began her techniques it was the first thing she applied. I also asked her if she could tell me what she was doing as she began a new cleaning technique or nourishment product to my face – and that she did!, in a very non-intrusive way.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetThe facial I selected was the Signature Treatment defined as “Lifting. Firming. Draining. Take that, ageing and stress.” I cannot recall the exact order of procedures or products throughout the facial but what I do know is everything was organic and natural. And I felt cleannn afterward. Two of the products I do recall was the honey mask application she used to exfoliate my skin and the toner that was full of herbs and essentials, and of course, rose water. It smelt heavenly. The honey exfoliation, which I mention because I want to try at home, was and is basically a great black head remover. Apply it like you would any other masque but throughout the time it sits on your face, you are using your [clean] fingers to dab at your face and lift the dirt out with the stickiness of the honey. Sounds yummy right? A must try for sure!

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetOne, or should I say a few, of my favorite parts about a facial is when they 1) include the décolletage area 2) they massage your shoulders and neck 3) they give you a scalp massage & 4) give your face a good pressurized massage. I received all 4 favorite parts, however I would have liked her to apply a bit more pressure to those key areas of the face: temples, nostrils, sides nose ridge / eye sockets, jaw etc.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetMy facial came to an end, which mind you didn’t feel too long or too short – it was perfect timing. She stepped out of the room and told me to take my time getting up. After relishing in the moment and feeling grateful for her, this weekend, mi amore, life, my health and more…I put my robe back on and stepped out of the room where she greeted me with a glass of water. She walked me over to the relaxation room and offered me tea or coffee. I opted for the tea, of course. White tea that is. She wrapped me up into one of the lounge chairs and the sleeping bag-like blanket where I got real comfy and began my hour long lounge of editing photos, and sipping tea in peace…right in front of the beautiful water sculpture.

She had asked at the end of my facial if I would like any recommendations, which of course I always appreciate. I mean, how often does someone who studies and manages skin on the daily, study my skin for 80 minutes? Hardly ever. I’ll for sure take feedback! I do believe you can only get better (or maintain in this case) by receiving feedback.

I was extremely happy to hear her report that my skin is very “flexible and healthy.” She proceeded to ask me if I get regular facials. Um, wow – talk about a compliment! Sadly, I had to report, no. Her opinions were a relief though because I had actually been dealing with an allergic reaction exactly a week prior. And leading up to London was nursing skin that basically felt like it had been burned, which resulted in an acne flare-up (small whiteheads and red spots), and left me with dry alligator-feeling skin and spotting for a week – all a female’s worst nightmare. I have had acne, bad acne in my mid 20’s (also a nightmare), but never have I had an allergic reaction on my face to any thing. So needless to say I was minor-ly freaking out. I live in a foreign country (Czech Republic) with no health insurance quite yet, so I don’t have access to a doctor who could tell me how to help my skin. Therefore I turned to Dr. Google, friend recommendations and maintaining faith in my good regenerative health and keeping any and everything off of my skin. A week later I was doing much better. And after this facial and her comments much much better. So!, you can see why her comments made me feel quite hopeful.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetAfter lounging with my new glow for some time, I went into the locker room, changed back into my clothes and made my way out to get that afternoon pick-me-up cappuccino so we could head out and explore the beautiful city of London – traditional English weather and all!

What I loved about this spa is that it really hit home with it’s concept of being “Agua” Spa – agua: meaning water in Spanish. The mere walk into this facility invoked the feeling of the restorative power that nature’s most crucial element offers us homo sapiens, to be clean, to be nourished, and capable of thriving. Nowadays many spas call themselves something related to rejuvenation and we get it: it’s the spa thing to do. But when a spa drives home the conceptual idea from business name to the spa itself’s paradigm then to it’s interior experience, it’s something else. It’s exceptional.

Some may know and relate to this: facials come at a price…yes, the actual price but I am talking about the aftermath of a facial. Due to your face being cleaned and extracted, sometimes in the coming days you will receive the lovely gift of a pimple here and there. This is caused by the dirt in your skin having been urged to the surface by the facial and eventually showing face, quite literally. So needless to say, I had a few blemishes show up, but nothing too crazy. Thankfully!

Overall I highly recommend a visit to this spa – and hotel. They have everything you need. The location is incredible for going and doing the sights and sounds London has to offer. Service was always on point and the design was killer: modern, sexy, yet cozy.

Till next time London, cheerio!

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2 and a half years ago I visited the surreal, and worldwide, spa brand AIRE Ancient Baths in Barcelona, Spain.

Six months ago, right before I set out on this journey of living abroad, I met someone in San Diego who connected me to some new friends in Barcelona who actually work for the incredible AIRE Ancient Baths. What were the odds I meet someone who knew people that are involved with the company whose concept I couldn’t be more obsessed with?! Truly lucky – or blessed as I like to believe.

After setting foot in Barcelona and introducing myself I was graciously welcomed back to the spa for a second visit as an “influencer” – which meant a VIP day of treatment. Forever grateful for the serendipity in my life!

So! Now for the VIP experience, given to me (and my German girl friend/guest, Johanna, who lives in BCN) by my new friend(s).

On this beautiful February Barcelona Sabado (Saturday) morning my friend and I made our way to AIRE Ancient Baths, around the corner from where Johanna, and I once, lived at 11am. (This was Johanna’s first time experiencing AIRE.) Due to our VIP access we were asked to arrive at a time that would allow us to enjoy privacy upon entering the locker rooms and undressing. After changing into our bathing suits and robe we made our way to the underground lair of the spa and bathing experience. After descending a glass-railed candle-lit stairwell we were greeted by a sweet employee who informed us we would be sought after while bathing when our massage appointment was to begin, and directed us to where we could take off and hang our robes.

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Johanna and I began by making ourselves a cup of tea that is supplied throughout the facility on a low and wide Moroccan style, candle-lit (of course), table, along with water in the marble lined relaxation room. Shortly after a few photo ops we made our way to the Tepidarium (Warm Bath 36ºC) where we waded for quite some time. Nearby were two “Frigidarium’s” (or cold plunge pools 16ºC) (my absolute favorite), so we worked up the nerve – literally – and dipped our body’s in, neck deep for about 5 seconds (should be longer!) and then moved to the Caldarium (or hot pool 40ºC) pool to warm back up.

After this we made our way to the sauna/steam room for a good 10 minutes, followed by a few minutes in the Balneum pool (Bath of a Thousand Jets), then to the pinnacle of the experience: the ever-so-cool Flotarium (or salt bath/pool) #floating(!). We seized another photo-op here, of course. It’s actually very very faux pas to take photos during a spa experience, however, our access granted the permission to do so – so long as I did not capture any of the other guests in the shot.

We continued to bathe in the amenities, and drink tea for a total of about 2 luxurious hours while we awaited notice of our massage. Once we were retrieved for our massage appointment we were guided into our own private room of two massage beds where Johanna and I could stay and enjoy this experience next to each other.

I had reported to my new friends of AIRE that last time I was at AIRE Barcelona (see blog post here) my massage felt much more like a tickle than a deep tissue massaging; frustrating to one who is need of a very physical massage. So, this time, my dear friend of the spa requested the strongest masseuse for my second massage with AIRE. & I am happy to report the massage was incredible. It was only 30 minutes, due to the short notice of being in BCN, in combination with peak season beginning, but it felt like hours of bliss. Every touch was so thought out and sensual. From the delicate taking off of my bikini strap to the swift and delicate placement of the towel to the unabashed massaging of the hip regions, it was like a beautiful dance the masseuse performed in order to allow you to reach a level of relaxation ecstasy. True rejuvenation.

After our massage was complete our bikinis and robes were put back on us and and we were guided into the lounge area where we we were offered a selection of beverages. I chose the fresh green juice and we made our way back down into the relaxation area of the spa lair.

We sat in the relaxation area upon the marble and enjoyed the benefits of our massage and lighter feeling bodies for a bit, and then decided to call it a day. What a special spa day it was. I am so happy I was able to enjoy it with a friend, being that it was her birthday weekend and all, and also grateful to have been given such special access and treatment. I truly felt like una reina (a queen)!

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Again, I highly recommend a visit to one of AIRE’s 10, and growing, locations. Chicago just recently opened, and London is scheduled to open in April of 2019. And there’s one more on the horizon that is top secret for now! You will not be disappointed in a visit to AIRE – as there is not as sophisticated of a modern ancient bathing experience that can compete with what AIRE creates for your sensations and rejuvenation.

Gracias, AIRE! ❤