When news of the UK’s first gin spa lit up the internet, it was practically Ginmas in November.
Gin lovers across the country went a bit wild. People breathlessly commented, tagged and shared the good news. Hen do? Girls’ day? Hell, one Gin Kin reader shared the announcement with a friend, noting: “couple of cheap flights and we are in the world of gin spa.”
Combining luxurious spa days with the nation’s favourite drink added a brand new dimension to the modern gin craze.
Sure enough, we had to see for ourselves for Ginuary 2018. After the excesses of the festive season, we rocked up to The Gin Spa for some much needed R&R — and a cheeky G&T.
The Gin Spa
Opened in December, The Gin Spa comes from the team behind the Gin71 bars in Scotland. As a matter of fact, it’s just a few strides away from the Gin71 in Virginia Court.
Set in a courtyard off a quiet corner of Merchant City, The Gin Spa is a little oasis in the central Glasgow. With moody dark walls, thematic spa music and on-trend geometric and metallic decor, the diminutive spa is clearly a chic space for wellness. But unlike most spas, bundles of fairy lights within empty gin bottles alight the hallway.
The spa is split into a manicure station in front and a pedicure station in the back with three treatment rooms between for massages.
With a name like The Gin Spa, I expected something akin to Beauty Bar’s beauty “saloons”. The American chain is just as known for its party vibe and live music as much as its killer $10 manicure and cocktail offer.
Gin usually isn’t spoken of in terms of wellness, to say the least. It’s Mother’s Ruin, after all, and the source of tongue-in-cheek jokes about its excesses: loving it, needing it, drinking a lot of it.
In contrast, The Gin Spa is hugely focused on holistic wellness.
Spa manager Melanie Gullett explains: “We want to make sure that you’re taken care of.”
“It’s all about the client. There are a lot of gin elements to it, but we didn’t want to become too gimmicky with it because we want this to be a space for wellness.”
Now here’s what makes this a gin spa. Like many a craft gin, it focuses on locality.
JustBe Botanicals, its signature product line, are an all-natural Scottish made brand. There are plenty of Scottish gins stocked and the spa partners with a different spa monthly. December featured Boe Gin whilst this month highlights Eden Mill.
“We’re using the botanicals you would find in gin but for the benefits they have for your skin for your body and for your well being,” explains Hannah Houston, Gin Spa’s project manager.
The botanicals are a key part in the six “journeys” guests are invited to partake.
Each journey is tied to a matching aromatherapy scent and chocolate, which are also custom made by JustBe Botanicals.
The journeys include:
The products play with the link between gin botanicals and tenants of aromatherapy.
Hannah notes: “The gin element is really important, but actually if you think about gin, because it’s so botanical, it very much incorporates into your wellness side of things as well.”
Juniper, the integral gin botanical, actually has strong detoxifying powers according to aromatherapy — only the Detox journey features it.
How it works
Just stepping into The Gin Spa took some tension out of my shoulders.
Its dark cosiness, strumming music and glowing aromatherapy diffuser cued that I was definitely in a space dedicated to relaxation.
First, The Gin Spa’s supremely gracious staff welcomed us, unburdening us of winter coats and bags. We swapped shoes for comfy white slippers. We sipped upon a glorious herbal tea, so delicious and healthy I couldn’t help feel virtuous already.
After filling out personal consultation forms, Melanie asked how we each wished to feel after our treatments.
“Relaxed and totally unstressed,” I offered.
“Happy!” replied Ashleigh without a beat.
Melanie offered us two scents each to choose our journey, sampling the rollerball on our hands.
I sprung for the lavender scented Tranquil journey whilst Ashleigh, unsurprisingly, went the Happy route.
We then chose three cards from a deck of inspiration cards, which I jokingly referred to as spa tarot cards. After shuffling the pack, we picked one from the top, one at random and one from the bottom.
These become our “points of inspiration” for the session.
Mine sounded a bit grim, but Melanie kindly reassured me none of the cards are negative, but rather designed to make you think.
My half hour back massage passed by all too quickly. My knots and sore back dissipated with a pro like Nicola, my massage therapist. Sitting slumped over my desk everyday isn’t great, but her incisive hands worked out all the tension I’d been carting around like a bag of rocks.
After the treatment, Nicola offered me a square of lavender white chocolate and a bottle of water.
Ashleigh and I reunited at the stylish pedicure station to pick a gin and FeverTree tonic at our leisure. After some very serious deliberation, I chose Isle of Harris Gin and Ashleigh picked Boe Violet Gin.
Soon we both had a tinkling ice cold copa glass full of G&T in hand, feeling utterly pampered.
The Gin Kin received complimentary treatments at The Gin Spa, but the views represented here are all our own based on our experiences.
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