Author: Mark Smith

Review: Britannia Hotel and Spa, Trondheim, Norway

The Britannia Hotel is an iconic hotel in the northern city of Trondheim. It’s a stunning destination hotel with a gorgeous spa. Dating back to 1870 (celebrating 150 years this year), the hotel reopened following a €140 million investment by its owner Odd Reitan. Re-imaged for the 21st century, the hotel still retains its unique sense of history. Contemporary yet elegant, it’s plush and refined, whilst being warm and welcoming. You feel at home in an instant from the warm welcome at reception through to your connection with the staff. The hotel rooms feature the latest technology for light and curtain controls. The design is simple, understated and elegant. Modern art is punctuated through the rooms and the hotel. What’s on the menu? There are six bars and restaurants on site. My top pick is the fine dining Spielsalen, where you can indulge in the 6 or 10 course tasting menu (with paired wines). Also check out the casual French Brasserie, as well as Jonathon Grill which does grilled meat to perfection. The beautiful Palmhaven is …

SKN-RG men's skincare line to target hydration, ageing and skin firmness

An introduction to SKN-RG

I come across lots of men’s skincare and many brands come and go, but SKN-RG sparked my interest as it is spa-oriented (you can create spa facials at home) certified organic, Cruelty Free (Leaping Bunny) and also certified by the Vegan Society. I know how much time and effort goes into securing these certifications so wanted to deep dive into the story and check out the products for their efficacy. I’m also keen to spotlight independent British brands, now more than ever. The husband and wife team behind the brand built the first Quanta® extraction machine which is said to extract the the full benefits of the plant ingredients in the formulas, using a broad spectrum of light and sound in this unique process. Whilst I’m not exactly sure how this works, I can confirm that the ingredients list reads like a dream. There’s an exceptional range of plant and botanical extracts. SKN-RG features a full skincare line, and a capsule collection of men’s skincare featuring six targeted products and a travel set. I was …

Jonathan Ward elegant candles for the home

Jonathan Ward Assassin Belarus

When Jonathan Ward creates a candle, you know that it will combine a sense of style, elegance with some drama and intrigue. The antithesis of a Yankee Candle (oh god) Ward has curated a collection of the most beautiful scents for the home, each with its own unique story – which evolves into a distinct blend, hand poured by Ward and his team at his private studio. Assassin Belarus, the latest addition to the line is possibly his most daring. It’s bold and hits the senses immediately, but beyond that, the layers of fragrance emerge which transport you to a world of spies, lies, double-crossing and espionage. *picture credit: courtesy of www.stephanmatthews.com Jonathan explains: “I was deeply inspired by the idea of creating a covert accord. The kind of accord of that was spiked with secrets. We purposely used multiple ingredients in smaller quantities so that they built hushed interest while remaining (almost) singularly undetectable.” These aren’t just any pedestrian blend of oils and scents. At the base, you can expect Amber Extreme, Birch tar oil, …

The Massage Company - The Spa Man review

Review: The Massage Company, Royal Tunbridge Wells

The Massage Company is a simple concept, it’s a wellbeing business that offers therapeutic massages for the masses. And there is beauty in this simplicity. Taking away the candles and tinkly bells (but keeping the soothing sounds reminiscent of spa music) this is the antithesis of a spa. I visited the location at Royal Tunbridge Wells which has 14 treatment rooms over two floors and includes one duo room. The reception area is simple, clean and modern, staff are friendly and welcoming, and the treatment rooms are fairly basic, featuring a treatment bed, chair for your stuff and a trolley for any equipment. It’s more wellness clinic than spa which is also evident in the experience. You are welcomed with a glass of water and a quick consultation. Post treatment there’s not a lot of time to linger. Once dressed it’s out to reception again (no post-treatment relaxation room). The treatment menu – keeping it simple The menu is straight forward, no nonsense and easy to understand.   There are four types of massage, explained in …

The Merrion Health Club and Spa Pool - The Spa Man

Review: The Merrion Health Club and Spa, Dublin

The Merrion Health Club and Spa in Dublin is delightful urban day spa that has everything you need for a weekend city spa break. Recently refurbished and rebranded, the health club really punches above its weight and is a welcome addition to the elegant hotel in the centre of Dublin. The hotel, part of the Leading Hotels of the World oozes old world charm without being cliched or stuffy. Every single member of the staff I met was warm and friendly and genuinely wanted to help, assist or have a chat.  The National Gallery and The Natural History Museum are just a few minutes’ walk as are the main shopping streets and Brown Thomas department store. The hotel’s design is classic and understated. Its contemporary take on traditional design give it a flavour of the past without being chintzy or old fashioned. There are two restaurants, The Garden Room (which also serves breakfast) and the Michelin star Patrick Guilbaud. THE MERRION HEALTH CLUB AND SPA The Merrion Health Club and Spa is small yet perfectly …

The Bath House London

Review: The Bath House, London

Situated in an old bank opposite Buckingham Palace, The Bath House brings authentic Russian Banya to the heart of London. Based on the centuries old traditional bathing culture, Banya involves a series of sauna experiences deeply rooted in history. Central to most villages in the past, the banya was a pace of cleansing and community and (whilst it never went away) is enjoying a revival in Russia and many of the former Soviet countries that line the Baltic. There are a couple of Russian banya’s in London and The Bath House, just a stone’s throw from Victoria station brings a touch of luxury while retaining a real sense of authenticity. A warm welcome greeted me as I walked through the door from busy Grosvenor Gardens. Given a locker band, I headed downstairs to change. On single sex days you can dispense with swimwear. I draped the cotton towel around me and began my visit with a pot of warming thyme tea. The secret to the sauna bathing is to do this in stages. 5-10 minutes …

The Spa Man

What I’ve learned about spas (from the man who visits over 30 a year)

I have been visiting spas for over a decade and am privileged to visit some of the world’s most incredible spa and wellness destinations. From medi-spas in Switzerland and holistic retreats in Thailand to the warm healing waters of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, it’s been an incredible journey. In my time as a spa writer I have visited over 300 spas and had well over 1000 treatments including countless massages, body scrubs, facials, reflexology, reiki, holistic healing, and trauma therapy. I’ve been scrubbed, soaked, stretched and starved, pampered, poked, prodded, and even pricked with an IV drip. I’ve had my chakras balanced in Greece, meditated on a mountain in the Seychelles, let go of guilt in Italy and had an out of body experience in Mauritius. But in all seriousness, I have come to learn that it’s possible to reboot and reset your mind, body and soul in the spa. Done correctly it can be truly lifechanging. I know, I have had a number of experiences that have brought me back from the brink …

Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa - The Spa Man

Review: Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa, France

The Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa has set a new standard for contemporary luxury spa and wellness in the Champagne region of Northern France. Set on a hill overlooking the town of Epernay and the small villages of Champillon and Hautvillers, the hotel is within easy reach of Paris (around an hour) and a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It offers a real retreat, a destination in itself. Yes it’s a great place to explore the region, but you could easily stay for a few days without leaving and feel totally and thoroughly at peace. Opened in mid 2018, the Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa has just 47 rooms set over two floors with two dining delights sited on the top floor. You are in for a gastronomic treat over seen by two Michelin star executive chef Jean-Denis Rieubland. For fine dining reserve a table at the Michelin star Le Royal, and for a more casual, all-day restaurant, Le Bellevue is the pace to be. Champagne is the order of …

best new spas of 2020 - Six Senses New York

The best new spas of 2020

Looking for inspiration for where to spa this year? The Spa Man has compiled his annual list of the very best new spas of 2020. The new year (and new decade) will continue to see growth in spas and wellness destinations across the globe. In the UK there is a steady stream of investment in country house hotels and a very exciting project is due to open in January (Carden Park I’m heading your way soon). Already spoiled for choice, now there’s even more on offer as properties look to raise the bar for spa in the UK and abroad. It’s interesting to see two new One and Only properties debut the Chenot spa concept. So here’s where to spa in 2020. The Spa Man’s annual guide to the best new spas of 2020 including: UK, Europe, North America, Asia and the Indian Ocean. If I have missed any do drop me a line! BEST NEW SPAS OF 2020: UNITED KINGDOM Carden Park, Cheshire Carden Park, set within a 1,000 acre Cheshire country estate, will …

Gaia Spa at Boringdon Hall

Review: Gaia Spa at Boringdon Hall, Devon, UK

Gaia Spa is a luxury spa set within the grounds of Boringdon Hall, Devon; a Grade I listed 16th century country manor on the edge of Dartmoor, Plymouth. Modern, welcoming and expertly designed, the Gaia Spa has it all. The spa makes the most of its setting offering beautiful views to the gardens, field and moorland on the horizon. From the warm welcome at reception, you can indulge in a manicure, pedicure or make-over. However, step through the spa doors to find where the magic really happens. The large pool is perfect for swimming laps and there’s a hydrotherapy pool with lots of massaging jets which leads to a small, but perfectly formed outdoor jacuzzi. Lining the pool are a series of relaxation loungers and two heater loungers. On wet days – this area can get quite busy. But during balmy sunny days from spring to early autumn you can escape outside and really commune with nature. The thermal suite at Gaia Spa is very well designed, ensuring a seamless spa journey with two saunas, …

ristmas spa gifts - The Spa Man

Best christmas gifts for women from the world of spa and wellness

The Spa Man picks the very best spa gifts for women from the world of spa and wellness to soothe, calm and cocooning this festive season. Gaia Skincare Sleep Set This is a wonder if you have trouble with slumber. Natural and handmade containing Gaia’s calming blend and bespoke elixir. Gaia’s gift of sleep, a trio of wellbeing aids; sleep balm, sleep body butter and sleep spray, infused with our calming blend of lavender, vertivert and marjoram. £40 www.gaiaskincare.com Aromatherapy Associates Winter Wind Down Collection The ultimate chill out. Release tension with every breath as your body responds to the calming aromas of Camomile, Lavender, and Frankincense. Calming mind, body and soul, these warming essential oils instil peacefulness. Includes: De-Stress Muscle Gel 150ml, De-Stress Mind Roller Ball 10ml, De-Stress Mind Bath & Shower Oil 9ml £36 www.aromatherapyassociates.com Voya Glow Festive Scented Candle Made from non-petroleum renewable sources, this limited edition seasonal spiced candle will fragrance the home and fill it with Christmas cheer. Soybean and rapeseed oil base is lifted with sweet orange and spicy …

The Spa Man Christmas gift guide for men

Best spa Christmas gifts for men

Streamline your gift giving this year with The Spa Man’s guide to the best spa Christmas gifts for men. ESPA Ultimate Grooming Collection Cleanse, shave and soothe with these hard-working skin essentials. The Collection Contains: Triple-Action Grooming Oil 15ml, Invigorating Face Wash 50ml, Energising Shower Gel 70ml, The Hydrator 35ml £45 www.espaskincare.com ThalgoMen Christmas Cracker Regular readers of The Spa Man will know I’m a big fan of ThalgoMen. This Christmas Cracker set contains one of my favourite products – the Regenerating Cream (15ml). This high-performance formula works to reinforce and re-firm the skin in order to preserve its youthful appearance over time. The set also contains: Anti-Fatigue Eye Serum (10ml), After Shave Balm (20ml) and Wake-up Shower Gel (30ml) £18 www.thalgo.co.uk Elemis Grooming On The Go Gift Set Travel-friendly men’s grooming essentials to clean, hydrate and revive. Collection includes: Skin Soothe Shave Gel 100ml, Deep Cleanse Facial Wash 50ml, Daily Moisture Boost 50ml, Active Hair & Body Wash 100ml and a smart Travel Bag £55 www.elemis.com Temple Spa Travel Therapies Cleanse and condition from …

The Scarlet hot tub experience - The Spa Man

Review: The Scarlet, Cornwall

The Scarlet is an eco-friendly hotel and spa set on the wild Atlantic coast of Cornwall overlooking the sea at Mawgan Porth. Just along the coast from Newquay, The Scarlet is an adults-only hotel that has jumped into my top 10 favourite spas in the UK. Blending effortless charm with a casual, laid back vibe, the staff are friendly, warm and relaxed. You instantly feel at home (there’s no traditional reception desk) and you can kick off your shoes, jump in a robe and stay like that for the entire stay. The rooms all have sea views (which are stunning), every part of the hotel is designed to maximise the views and it does it with maximum impact. Gazing out over the ocean, your stress levels instantly drop a few notches and your senses are soothed. The 37 rooms over five levels are simple and comfortable with open plan bathrooms featuring the hotel’s own range of refillable bathroom amenities. The beds are positioned to look across the beach and sea. You could stay here all …