Today I blog from my hotel bed in Brighton, where I've been invited to visit the new Pecksniff's Pamper Studio that's just opened inside the Thistle Hotel.
While most hotel spas are nestled underground (or at least sheltered from fellow guests' curious eyes) this one is smack-bang in the middle of a doorway on the edge of the reception foyer - so capitulated and exposed they might as well have put the treatment beds in the restaurant.
But you know what? That wasn't actually a bad thing.
As the name suggests it's a 'pamper studio', meaning quick results and no faffing, and that's a refreshing change in the right direction for hotel spas.
In the past I've dreaded those lift journeys going down to dark, window-less basement spas, feeling claustrophobic and tense and trying not to pass out from the increasingly clogging aroma of whatever sleepy candle they've burnt for too long. I find myself chanting little mantras of 'calm your mind, ground yourself, switch off the craziness' but never quite relaxing because I know I'll be thrown back out onto the manic streets straight after my treatment. And if you're staying in a city hotel, the chances are you're going out that night to celebrate: so who wants to be comatosed by cocktail time?
This little spa on the other hand was easy and breezy, just there, not making a big deal about it, perched on the side of a busy room minding its own business and looking pretty. I was excited: this was new and interesting, there were no silly buddahs'n'bells and when something is so conspicuous and open, one wonders what it's secretly hiding behind closed doors. And I was pleasantly surprised: there are three treatment rooms, a spacious mani/pedi room, a colour scheme of Viagra blue, black and white (a bit weird but upbeat and cool), our allocated therapists were chatty and friendly and, phew, there was zero Zen-speak.
I opted for a pedicure (75mins; £38) while my spa-ing partner had a back massage (30mins; £28) and both treatments delivered exactly what we needed. I had travelled down on the train and felt like I was on holiday, so a fun pedicure suited my mood (and even in the dead of winter, there's no excuse for unkempt feet). He had had a rubbish day, a long week and not enough sleep, so a quick pummel fixed him right up (although there were moans later on that evening about the oil slick left on his back. Such a newbie. Bless).
I don't think this is the place for a mind-altering and soul-cleansing body bliss-out, but I could imagine bringing my hens here for champagne manicures before hitting Brighton's finest dancing establishments (speaking of, say "I want to dance my socks off" to the doorman at Funky Fish and he'll let you in for free!).
I hope other city hotels take notice of Pecksniff's cute little pamper studio and realise the majority of their guests are here to party and have a laugh - not to pass out on their dinner plate!