Spa review - The Spa at The Midland Serene Sleep treatment and Afternoon Tea in Manchester

Relax in the pool at The Spa at The Midland, Manchester
Credit: Paul Adams

Relax in the pool at The Spa at The Midland, Manchester Credit: Paul Adams - Credit: Paul Adams

Kate Houghton enjoys The Spa at The Midland Serene Sleep treatment with Afternoon Tea

Himalayan Rock Salt Sauna | The Spa at the Midland, Manchester

Himalayan Rock Salt Sauna | The Spa at the Midland, Manchester - Credit: Archant

Serene Sleep: the holy grail of pretty much everybody I know and ridiculously hard to achieve in this age of high pressure work, parenting and even leisure time. On a day when I would normally be pursuing the latter (gym, washing, taxi service for teens, Sunday dinner) I headed to The Spa at the Midland, to see if their signature Serene Sleep treatment might make up for the lack of serenity in most of my life. I’m content to say it did what it said on the tin, as it were.

The Serene Sleep treatment is a collaboration with spa brand ESPA, they of the fabulous, instantly recognisable aromatherapy fragrances, and is unique to The Spa at The Midland. Not wanting to ruin any chance of beneficial effects by dashing in and out of the Spa with the treatment sandwiched between, my spa buddy Amanda and I booked ourselves a full day’s R&R there, with an Afternoon Tea to boot.

Afternoon Tea in Manchester | The Spa at The Midland

Afternoon Tea in Manchester | The Spa at The Midland - Credit: Archant

The pool area is beautifully designed and the pool itself is so warm it’s a little like sinking into a warm bath; floating about, occasionally actually swimming so I can pretend I did some exercise, I feel quite chilled out already. A session in the sauna, with its Himalayan rock salt wall, was all I needed to start the relaxation process. After our dip, we headed to the relaxation suite, where we tucked ourselves into two extremely comfortable beds and sipped fruit teas, fighting to stay awake as we read our Kindles in silence – a state Amanda and I rarely achieve, constant chatter being our default position. Suitably dozy, we were led to our respective treatment rooms to commence our journey into Serene Sleep.

The treatment is, as you can imagine, designed to induce a state of utter relaxation, and starts with the selection of the most appropriate essential oils for your needs. You do this by smelling two oils applied to the back of you hands – the one you’re most drawn to is the one you need. I chose Restorative, which came as no surprise.

The treatment starts with a deeply relaxing hot stone massage, focussing on back, neck and shoulders. This wasn’t my first experience of hot stone massage and I am pretty determined that it won’t be my last. My therapist was very skilled and soon found the persistent knots that trouble my neck and shoulders, working away at them and kneading them to submission. The combination of deep heat, fragrant essential oils and massage was utter bliss.

Following this I enjoyed a rather marvellous facial massage, including use of warmed Rose Quartz crystals to help diminish the tension around my forehead, eyes and jaw, before a deeply hydrating treatment mask containing a blend of Lavender, Cedarwood and Ylang Ylang essential oils. Bliss. At this point I could choose a pink clay scalp massage or a hands and feet massage. I opted for the latter and spent the next 15 minutes sinking into a peaceful, almost meditative state, completely switched off from normal daily cares.

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When I finally staggered from my treatment room another lie down was in order, while I contemplated Afternoon Tea. It wasn’t long before the draw of crustless sandwiches and dainty cakes had us sitting at a table for two, comparing notes on our treatment – voted top class and ‘must repeat’ by us both.

Afternoon Tea was everything you expect from Manchester’s most elegant hotel, and more. Traditional scones with jam and clotted cream, obviously, and alongside the hoped-for smoked salmon: chicken and mango; gammon with pickled cabbage; mushroom Duxelle with tarragon cream cheese; and a beautiful asparagus, artichoke and parmesan mimosa. Our dainty cakes were designed to charm, with an elderflower and gooseberry cake, a tonka bean panna cotta and an awesome dark chocolate and salted caramel tart. Add good old English Breakfast tea, and your day is complete.

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