Untie the trainers and slip on some swimwear for the ultimate in rest and relaxation
By Katie Garner
Us athletes are hard-working types really. Think about it, all those muscles constantly pulling, stretching, reaching as we use vast amounts of concentration for every imaginative lunge to catch the shuttle, or immense amounts of strength to conclude the point. With this in mind, I decided it was time to take a load off, so for my birthday treat to myself last month, I decided to grab the hubby-to-be, my flip flops and my bikini and head off for some serious spa-ing.
Our destination for our day of pampered luxury was the incredibly swish and swanky Amida Spa. With a chain of venues, we decided to attend the Farnham spa, based in a David Lloyd club tucked away behind some greenery off a Surrey side road. On first appearances, it did seem to be your bog standard gym, and as you entered the elegantly sloping logo of Amida seemed to lead you off down a side corridor to the right. Once through the barriers, we entered the trademark hush of appreciative relaxation, undulating swells of xylophone and water music already easing any pressure from the traffic. White walls and accents of pale blue were instantly soothing and the natural quiet was actually really restful instead of being weird and unnatural.
We were greeted at reception and dished out towelling robes which would swamp a small house, as well as some logo stamped flip flops – size 5 for me, size 11 for him. We were also given a towel each to use for the day. At reception, we were also able to pick our lunch options and drink, which were included in our package. I settled on the butternut squash soup with a glass of Prosecco – it was my birthday! Dan chose the pesto pasta with a less excitable yet freshly squeezed apple juice. So far, so spa. Then came the bad news – one of the therapists had phoned in sick, so only one of us could have our full body massages that we had booked in for 3.00pm that afternoon. Full of chivalry, Dan let me have the slot for the massage.
We disappeared into our respective changing rooms to get suited up in swimwear and soft coverings before being given a tour of the facilities by a very knowledgeable lady. This was where the wow factor came in to it. Amida Spa is a complete den of modernity, decked out in dark slate tiles, atmospheric multi-coloured lighting and a maze of rooms for your exploring pleasure. Outside was a heated hydrotherapy pool which included a very random giant tap that acted like a shower in the pool, as well as bubbly hydrotherapy beds like mini Jacuzzis. There was also an outdoor heated Jacuzzi which bubbled all the way up to my chin. Coming inside from the outside pool area, we entered another pool area. This time, a salt infinity pool, surrounded by beige topped loungers. From there, we walked through the spa bar area, which included tables and chairs as well as cream leather sofas for you to perch on while you munched your lunch. There were small alcoves tucked away in this area as well, with more loungers and blankets in case you wanted to hide away with a good book and escape from normality for a bit.
The wet facilities include 5 indoor and outdoor saunas, all set at varying temperatures so you can choose the one that is the most comfortable for you. We started off in the coolest one which hit between 60 and 70 degrees and we worked our way up. There were also two steam rooms, a multi-coloured glowing light in the centre of each room acting a bit like a lighthouse amidst the fog. The two rooms were basically the same but with different scents – one had a wonderfully oriental floral smell which I loved. Sitting in here you built up a sweat incredibly quickly but you also felt super cleansed and oh so clean. The ice chute acts like a statement decorative feature as well as an area where you cool your skin after the sauna or steam room, rubbing the ice chips over your body. The ice fell from a crystal shard style chandelier that changed colours, being caught in a large square tile bucket underneath. The salt grotto felt great on the lungs with a pungent mint scent in the air, clearing your passageways nicely. The tepidarium was also a lovely spot to kick back, as you could recline on the wavy heated tiled beds that despite being hard, were also oddly comfortable. You could also dunk your toes in foot baths or if you were feeling super brave – as Dan did when I was having my massage – you could throw yourself into the narrow and deep plunge pool at a chilling 6 degrees.
As you swan about the spa deciding where on earth to start, you can’t help but be overawed and impressed by the professional sheen and quality of the place. The abundance of facilities is excellent and they are such a high standard compared to some other places I have been, although these have been based in hotels so the spa wasn’t the main attraction as it was here. It just feels as if everything has been thought of and included and then designed with the utmost care and creativity. It really is a gorgeous place and you feel a million dollars just being there.
Lunch is not really for those who were really very hungry. I get that it is a spa, so healthy food is on the agenda, but it was a tiny bit of a let-down, considering the immensely high standard of everything else. My bowl of soup arrived with a single slice of bread, and it was quite a small bowl. The flavours were lovely but it was very watery and didn’t really look the business. It was just ok. The Prosecco on the other hand hit the spot much better. I went to order some fruit salad afterwards as we fancied something sweet, only to be told they didn’t actually have any fruit. I had to settle for the one remaining wholemeal croissant with jam, which was still tasty but not the pile of refreshing fruit, yoghurt and granola I had originally wanted. Dan found his pesto pasta to be rather bland despite being peppered with greeny flakes of herbs, sundried tomatoes and shavings of parmesan.
After a slight tiff over the loungers with another couple, it was time for my massage, so I left Dan snoring away and went back to the main reception. My therapist was a lovely softly spoken and polite lady who was really good. She worked wonders across my worried shoulders and really put the elbow grease into the knots by my neck and shoulder blades. I love getting full body massages as they then also work the front and back of your arms, legs and chest, and if you’re lucky, you even get a bit of a head massage too. I swear I nearly dozed off numerous times it was that relaxing and it was heavenly to just let my muscles unwind as well. The pressure was perfect as well – firm enough to do the job of undoing the tension knots and barriers in the muscle, but not so hard that you feel kinda crippled when you are meant to be enjoying it. She used Aromatherapy Associates products as well, so they smelt divine, actually starting the massage by getting me to inhale the herbal softness of lavender.
We arrived that morning at about 10.30am and we left just after 4pm, enjoying the whole day exploring all that Amida Spa had to offer. I’m not surprised they have been shortlisted for Day Spa of the Year by the Professional Beauty Awards as they really bowl you over with their glossy and gleaming facilities. It’s pristine with great variety and plenty of space for everyone. We went on a Tuesday so it was quieter then say if you went on a Saturday for example. An absolutely fantastic place, just a shame Dan missed out on his massage since they couldn’t get a replacement therapist in.