Archive for the ‘Beauty’ Category
I had made a pact that I wouldn’t leave Marrakech without having a hammam. You may know I tried one at Casa Spa in London earlier this year (and loved it) so a truly authentic one in the heart of this bustling city was destined to be the highlight of my trip.
There are hammams on every corner in Marrakech but it’s difficult to know which ones are good (and hygienic) or which ones are terribly bad. It’s why I relied on recommendations from friends and good old Trip Advisor.
I managed to book with Les Bains De Marrakech, a hugely popular boutique spa with top ratings. Conveniently I made a reservation through their website while I was in Marrakech and paid securely through Paypal.
Their website is superbly designed and easy to navigate so I could select which treatments I fancied. I went for one of the packages the spa offers: a 45 minute hammam and traditional body scrub with black soap and kessa glove plus a ghassoul body mask with plants and either a one hour relaxing or draining body massage for 580 dirhams per person (roughly £48). A hammam on its own is 170 dirhams (about £14).
Les Bains De Marrakech, which opened its doors in 2008, is situated in the old medina, by the iconic Kasbah gateway. There are scooters and motorbikes whizzing through the souqs and the spa is tucked away down an alley way that magically takes you away from the noise to tranquility.
From the reviews I had read I was very excited and to my delight, appearances exceeded my expectations as soon as I stepped inside. It is a luxurious spa, tastefully decorated in traditional Morrocon décor. The corridors are like a maze but they are lit up by the stunning traditional Morrocan lanterns.
I was instructed to arrive half an hour before my treatment was due to begin. The staff are highly professional, polite, well spoken and friendly. Once I had been welcomed, I was taken to the changing rooms to get ready. Les Bains De Marrakech provides everything – you only need to bring your swimwear.
While I waited for my appointment, I relaxed on a sun lounger by the pool and was served mint tea. I had requested for a private hammam (at no extra cost) but if you visit with a friend or your partner and have no qualms about sharing then your treatment will take place together.
The therapists usually don’t speak English but are fluent in French and Arabic. I managed to get by with some French though my therapist made a sweet effort to speak broken English. Well you don’t really need to be engaging in much dialogue when a hammam is very much hands-on.
I knew what to expect - steam, soap, scrub, steam, mask, wash. I had heard a few horror stories about some hammams’ tendency to not observe hygiene properly but thankfully Les Bains De Marrakech use a brand new kessa glove on every client and let you take it home afterwards.
The therapist is not shy about poking you in intimate areas; it is an invasive treatment which if you’re not aware of (let alone not used to), you won’t like. I just tell myself they do this all the time and it’s true, they don’t bat an eyelid about your wobbly bits…plus there is hardly any light in the stream room so you’re alright!
Having experienced such thorough scrubs with my London Moroccan and Turkish hammams, my actual Moroccan hammam at Les Bains De Marrakech was mild in comparison. I also was deprived of seeing how much dirt and dead skin was coming off me because the steam room was very low on lighting.
But it was my massage I was disappointed in. I chose a ‘relaxing’ massage which was explained to be a strong, deep massage to loosen my muscles and help me relax. Instead my masseuse just rubbed oil into me, and stroked my back, shoulders and head. It felt quite limp and amateurish and I did not leave relaxed and relieved.
Perhaps I was unlucky in landing someone who didn’t appear to know what they were doing, but for what I had paid (which was exceedingly more expensive than other spas), I had expected much more. I craved for a massage at Casa Spa and am yearning to book an appointment there. I wouldn’t have to fly to another country for it…
Les Bains De Marrakech has invested a lot in its vision to be an aesthetically beautiful spa and it accomplishes this flawlessly. I just can’t help but think had I gone to a lesser known hammam and consequently paid less, I would have left more satisfied.
I am going on holiday to Marrakech soon. It will be 7 days in the (here’s hoping for) scorching north African sun, and I am looking forward to getting my first sun tan in almost 18 months.
One thing I am determined to do is to minimise on my packing with make-up and beauty products for two main reasons: I will be flying by no-frills airline Easyjet who are notoriously difficult with luggage dimensons and weights (total size includes wheels and handles for crying out loud!). Also I want to leave enough room for any potential purchases I will find difficult to resist from the souqs.
I took a heaving bag of make-up on my last getaway and shamefully I didn’t even use two-thirds of the contents. What is it about going away that sends us into a panic that we might need several palettes and lipsticks? It’s a holiday, not a fashion shoot!
So here are the essentials I’ve whittled down to:
- Maybelline’s Volum’ Express The Rocket Mascara – my current favourite mascara (not photographed)
- Illamasqua’s Precision Liner in Abyss
- Illamasqua’s Skin Base (12)
- MAC Pro Longwear Concealer (NW35)
- L’Occitane’s Sublime Beauty Cream – BB Cream in Medium*
- GOSH BB Cream in Warm Beige
- Bourjois cream blusher in Sweet Cherry (04)*
- Nars cream blusher in Maui
- Avon Supershock Gel Liner in black
- Clinique Chubby Stick Intense in Roomiest Rose and Mightiest Marschino*
- Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Crush (005)
- Smashbox Megatint in Punch*
- Bourjois 3D Effet lip glosses in Brun Exotic and Brun Rosé*
- Hourglass Extreme Sheen High Shine Lip Gloss in Icon and Empress
- Elemis Pro-Radiance Illuminating Flash Balm* – doubles up as a primer
- Liz Earle Sheer Gold Shimmer
I have purposely avoided products which need brushes as well as powders, and subsequently I am leaving out the eyeshadows because frankly I can’t be bothered with all that faffing around.
Bourjois’s new collection of cream blushers are not until 15th May but you can read a review and see swatches by Leanne of Do Not Refreeze. Light and slim in packaging, these are perfect for travelling so I’m popping one in the bag.
I am also looking forward to putting L’Occitane’s new BB Cream through its paces and I will be posting a review on it.
All of these fit nicely in my relatively small Bourjois make-up bag*. Honestly my make-up bag before was hand bag size!
Is there anything else I should take? I know I’ve overdone it with the lipwear but the trouble is, I don’t know which ones I will wear (depending on how I feel at the time) so I’m taking a few. Madness. I would love to know if you try to downsize your make-up when you go away or if you take more than what I am packing.
On a separate note, if you’ve been to Marrakech, please let me know your recommendations about what hidden gems I should visit or try. One thing that is an absolute must is a hammam and massage and picking up some argan oil. Can’t wait!
There’s a new subscription service on the scene. I know what you’re thinking…not another one! Well BoxDelux is geared towards high end luxury and it’s not just about beauty but health, refreshment and homely pleasures too.
The folks at BoxDelux have teamed up with leading brands including Illuminum Perfumes, Skin Salveation, Teapigs, Nakd Bars and NUYU skin clinic to bring top brand luxuries direct to your door every month. Some of these names might sound familiar to you so it’s a great opportunity to sample such delights.
To maintain exclusivity, there will be a limited number of boxes available each month with no repetition of products and each item featured will be available to buy in the online shop at www.box-delux.com for a limited period only. What’s also exciting is each monthly box will have a different theme every month including support for Breast Cancer Awareness later on in the year with a percentage of the profits going to the worthy cause.
The first BoxDelux will be out in May featuring the Best of British, so it’s a chance to experience the finest products made at home plus there will be an exclusive £20 gift voucher for redemption in the BoxDelux shop.
Subscription prices which include delivery, are as follows:
1 month subscription £35
3 month subscription £105
6 month subscription £175
12 month subscription £350
Giftboxdelux from £100
If you are stuck for ideas for a birthday present then it’s worth remembering BoxDelux can be purchased as a gift subscription for any period mentioned above.
For more on BoxDelux or to join the service, visit their website www.box-delux.com. There is also a Facebook page and you can keep up to date via Twitter too. Let me know if this selection tickles your fancy.
Exciting news for all you make-up lovers. The first United Make-up Artist Expo will be taking place in London on 6-7 April. To be held in Islington’s Business Design Centre, there will be stalls, shows and discussions.
The two day event will also feature a host of well known cosmetic companies including the London Brush Company. I first came across LBC at London IMATS a couple of years ago and met the founder Siân Richards too. The brushes are most probably my absolute favourite so I am pleased I will get a chance to stock up on more.
To find out more about the event and for tickets, visit http://www.umae.co.uk/.
Prices start from £27 for one-day tickets if you book in advance with concessions for students and professionals. If you’re keen then hurry as prices will gradually rise until on the day when they will cost £45. For each ticket that is purchased the organisers will donate £1.00 to Breast Cancer Awareness.