So I decided it was about time I went and had a massage, and instead of my usual choice of spa, I thought I’d try something new, especially since Espa at the Ritz Carlton Grand Canal had opened since.

The first thing that impressed me about the spa – which is set in a separate building to the actual hotel, down a road sign-posted for the ‘Venetian Village’ – was that although it looked deserted when I arrived, just as I was wondering where to park the car, a man popped up and told me he was the valet and that he’d take the car for me (don’t try that one in London folks, you don’t know who might be off with your car!). So with that taken care of, I stepped up to the main door when as if by magic, it opened, revealing behind it a friendly faced spa attendant who greeted me by name. An impressive start indeed.

Next, I was given a cold towel and a saffron tea to enjoy, and then led to the changing rooms by way of being shown round the grand building and facilities that include a sauna and steam room, an outdoor plunge pool (though no jacuzzi) and both indoor and outdoor relaxation areas.

Outdoor plunge pool and relaxation area

Outdoor plunge pool and relaxation area

Although it’s often nice to use the facilities if you have time, I sometimes find myself wondering if I’ve been forgotten, since there never seems to be anyone around. At Espa, there were a couple of attendants and staff around, and I quite liked the subtle and unobtrusive comfort they provided rather than the usual feeling of isolation.
I had booked a 90 minute aromatherapy massage and before I even began to wonder if I had been forgotten in the steam room, the masseuse came and fetched me for the treatment. Once inside the treatment room, there was no welcome ritual, or gentle foot washing as seems to be the norm in many spas here, but I was asked about how I was feeling and then given the choice of two oils relevant to my answer to choose from – I plumped for the relaxing frankincense and sandalwood. I also noticed that the massage table was very comfortably wide, and I was pleased my arms didn’t feel even close to the edges – I often feel as though they might flop off the side if I relax too much, but not this time. The face hole was also surprisingly comfortable and I didn’t end up with any strange towel markings or lines across my face at the end as I usually seem to have! The therapist began and although she hadn’t asked me how light or firm I prefer the pressure, it seemed as though she knew instinctively, and demonstrated some of the most skilled massage hands I’ve felt for a long time. I was confident from the word go that she knew what she was doing, with seamless and flowing movements and plenty of careful attention to pressure points. The final furlong also involved a head massage using Espa scalp mud which promised to make my hair shiny and moisturise my scalp  – it certainly felt pleasantly cool and soothing.

Finally, after an oriental tea in the relaxation room, a quick change,  and having found my way back to reception to pay, as I was leaving the building I was wondering who to give my valet ticket to, as there was no one outside in sight. Just as I was about to wander across the way in search of someone, lo and behold my car appeared round the corner! Not sure what the signal was or how they’d known to fetch my car in such perfect timing but it didn’t matter. Now that’s what I call service!
And since I was a first time customer, I was also given a voucher for a free 30 minute add on to a treatment next time I visit the spa – result. With the service I received and the impressive overall surroundings I’d definitely go back, so if you’re looking to try somewhere new – give it a go.

You can find all the details and the treatment menu on their website.