While much fanfare has been made about the revamped The Star and the new luxury hotel The Darling. The hotel’s day spa, aptly named The Spa, quietly and carefully arrived on the scene about 6 months ago with little fanfare and little flashiness. Much like the spa itself.
Actually, it would be incorrect to say The Spa isn’t flashy, it’s just flashy in a subtle and sophisticated way. The Spa occupies the entire second floor of The Darling hotel, and with 16 treatment rooms, it’s the largest spa in Australia. I arrive for my treatment, pushing my way through the huge entrance door to take a seat in the beautifully appointed waiting room to fill out my form. I opted to have a Turkish Hammam Body Polish ($200) as this is the first luxury spa in Australia to offer this treatment and, having toured the property prior to my visit, I knew I was in for a real treat.
As I fill out the form I realise just how much attention is paid to detail here – I am asked how much pressure I want in my massage, do I want conversation, how loud do I want the music, areas of concern, areas to avoid…it’s these little touches that make me realise I’m not in Kansas anymore and that, for the next hour at least, I’m going to be worshipped like a queen.
I’m taken to the changing room where I’m given an oversized fluffy robe, disposable briefs and a pair of slippers that are just my size. Once I’m rugged up and ready, I retreat to the lounge for tea and a refresher towel while the therapist talks through my treatment. We make our way through the rabbit warren of hallways, where you could quite easily get lost because the lights are dim and the shiny tiles are mesmerising, and we arrive at the treatment room. I’m immediately hit in the face by a wall of heat – the marble slab in the middle of the room is creating a sauna-effect, but it’s not so hot that it’s uncomfortable.
I quickly discover that the Hammam treatment is not for the overly-modest, because it’s just you and your disposable briefs as you lie on your back on the heated marble slab. The therapist is highly respectful and can drape you with towels if you’re self-conscious, but I throw caution to the wind and ditch the modesty towels to experience the full magic of the treatment. The therapist is wearing a swimsuit artfully covered with a sarong, and she starts the treatment by filling a copper bowl with warm water and splashing me top to toe.
Once I’m sufficiently wet, the therapist dons exfoliating gloves and scrubs my skin with sea salt. I’m torn between agony and ecstasy – my skin is being ripped off, but her rubbing motion is relaxing the muscles underneath. As she scrubs each limb she douses it with cool water, which is soothing against the rawness of my skin and the heat of the marble slab below me.
As an antithesis to all the scrubbing and sloughing, the next phase of the treatment is bubbles. Lots and lots of bubbles. As I lie there, wet and warm, the therapist uses Turkish soap and a cotton bubble maker to cover my aching limbs and torso in a creamy lather. As she massages the soapy mess into my skin, I drift in and out of consciousness. This is unlike any spa treatment I have ever experienced.
The therapist moves up my body and finishes by washing my hair with the same Turkish soap bubbles. She massages my scalp and slicks it back with a treatment. As I awaken from my dreamlike state, the therapist brings me a tray of fresh fruit and a big glass of water. I don’t want to get up off my warm marble slab, but the temptation of brightly coloured fruit proves too much. As I sit there on a dry towel, legs curled under me while I nibble on strawberries and grapes, the therapist starts to rinse me with water. And in that moment, a moment that perhaps would have looked a little strange from the outside, I feel so blissed out that I make a pact to myself that I will treat myself to a Hammam every few months.
Disclosure: I was a guest of The Spa. It was bloody amazing. I’m going again on my own coin in a couple of weeks. Seven star luxury.