I got married in September 2008, so this was a road test for the Sienna Spa at the Radisson in Manchester as a possible hen expedition venue. Also, friend Ruth was in the country for her one-and-only break from a year managing a diving conservation project in Madagascar, living in a village with very little in the way of creature comforts, so a little pampering was in order.
The Sienna Spa is, I think, a good bet for an afternoon off or a group thing like a hen night, because the spa itself – which has a sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and decent sized swimming pool – is free to use with treatments costing £40 or more, or is £12 for the spa alone. This means it's reasonably affordable for groups where some people are a bit more flush than others. There's also a gym, but let's not go there, and a full set of towels, robe and slippers is supplied, which is nice. And the spa is well-supplied with loungers and chairs where you can fall asleep, read fat trashy novels or do other things that might be lovely and relaxing.
Although there's no real chat about what you need or want from a massage, you do have to fill in medical conditions form, which is a little mechanistic and can feel like their main objective is to cover themselves in case they damage you, rather than actually understanding what the purpose of your treatment might be. But the little lounge overlooking the pool where you wait for treatments is nice enough, with jugs of water and complementary apples. Very healthy.
I have to say my experience of the deep tissue massage I went for on this visit wasn't terrific. It was satisfactory, but for £60 a pop I want pretty damn good, to be honest. I don't remember the name of the massage therapists Ruth and I had that day, but my overwhelming impression was that the therapists there tended towards the young, blonde beauty-therapists-who've-done-a-bit-of-massage-training type, rather than people interested in the more in-depth aspects of wellbeing and relaxation. I normally really enjoy a proper deep muscle massage – as I said in my review of Jutika I'm happy to have my back and shoulders worked on with elbows and knees as well as hands – but my experience at the Radisson was actually quite painful, especially on the calves, and when I tried to convey this to my therapist I didn't get the impression that what I was saying was really getting across. I felt I was in the hands of someone with fairly limited experience and a small repertoire, who had little skill or flexibility to adapt what they were doing to the client's needs. I needed the sauna and steam afterwards to recover from the massage! Which is a pity, especially at that price.
Contact details: Radisson Edwardian Manchester Hotel, Peter Street, Manchester M2 5GP, 0161 835 8964. Email sienna[at]radisson.com