I can count on one hand the facials I've had where I've walked away satisfied, relaxed and looking a million times better than when I walked in.
At the same time, I've lost count of the facials where I've walked away irritable, greasy, grimy, moody and ready to punch a wall. I get so cross when the therapist doesn't understand the anatomy of the face and where to massage, and how much pressure to use (too little and I want to scream, too much and my skin's on fire). And an hour of cheap lavender oil being pushed round my face and hairline does not warrant a £60+ price tag.
For me a great facial experience constitutes an authoritative treatment explanation from a therapist who beams confidence and knowledge, a deep-yet-gentle ritualistic cleanse and a proper look at my skin through a magnifying ring-light. Next, I want thorough extractions to squeeze every last speck of grime out of my pores, a blissful pressure point massage that doesn't pull my skin, cooling masks and an application of tailored moisturisers that leaves me looking dewy, fresh and even-toned. I want to feel like my skin is having a professional treatment, just like your body feels when you have a personal training session, or how your taste buds feel when you eat gourmet food. I want something I could never replicate at home.
It's not too much to ask, is it? Certainly not from Dermalogica and Alpha H, my all-time favourite facial providers and neither was it from Vaishaly, whose facial I was introduced to recently and who ticked all my boxes and more.
I went to have it at the beautiful new Dorchester Spa, in the basement of the hotel on Park Lane in London. I have to say, it's one of the most impressive spas I've ever been to: forget Buddhas and bells, this space is bright, serene, modern and stylish with a gorgeous relaxation room, excellent hair salon and a fabulous Spatisserie tearoom where you can feast on delicious cakes and cocktails with your girlfriends (they do the chicest hen parties too). For a basement spa, it feels amazingly light and airy - a million miles away from the dark cellar I walked around on the hard-hat building-site tour six months ago.
So, exclusive to the spa is Vaishaly's Signature Facial - £95 for 55mins - and the best 55mins my skin has ever been treated to. As well as all the elements featured above, they perform a tension-releasing scalp massage, micro-dermabrasion and a high frequency massage using a pain-free galvanic current. It really was one of the most comprehensive and luxurious facials I've ever had. I walked away feeling fantastic and my skin looked glowy and luminous without a hint of redness. My therapist (if only I could remember her name - I was so blissed-out I'm surprised I can remember any of the treatment!) was amazing: she was upbeat and friendly, obviously in love with her job and had great finger work (confident, perfectly symmetrical, delicate-yet-strong).
I'm so pleased I've found another memorable facial that I can recommend.
I only wish I was getting married all over again so I could book myself in every month!