Friday, 24 April 2009

Sienna spa at the Radisson Hotel, deep tissue massage, June 2008

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]


  1. Thanks for the post I enjoyed reading it.


  2. Hi. Just stumbled across your blog. I'm a member of Sienna (two 'n's) on a package that includes one treatment a month, so I've had a lot of massages there.

    I've never had a painful massage from them, but then again I've never asked for a deep massage there, and rarely a full body massage (particularly as their idea of full body differs from mine).

    It is true that some of their therapists do lean more towards beauty than bodywork, and some have a wider repertoire than others. I do find that the 'same' massages vary immensely from therapist to therapist.

    From my experience, I'd say you are best off asking outright for a therapist that's more a masseuse than a beautician, and arranging your appointment to suit their availability.

    For value and sheer quality, I recommend the Indian Head Massage (which includes the back) as performed by Victoria.

    Overall, I've had massages elsewhere that are slightly better than Sienna's best, and massages elsewhere that are a lot worse than Sienna's worst.

    You didn't mention what your friend Ruth thought of her treatment - was she happier?

  3. Hi Paul,
    thanks for the comments, and glad you've had more impressive experiences at Sienna than I have. Thanks also for the comments on how to get the best out of this venue, which does have its good points - I did in the end choose it as a hen party venue, partly because the range of other facilities for a pretty reasonable price makes it a good place for a mixed-income group to go. You asked what Ruth's experience was - but she can't actually remember, so it can't have been either too bad or too great!
    As for the actual hen day I and my friends had there - again, it was lovely, and the pool, saunas, jacuzzi and steam room are more than adequate, but again I was a bit underwhelmed by my massage experience. For a start, as I turned my head in the upholstered head rest on the massage table I got my nose uncomfortably caught in a rip in the leather - not so great! The massage itself was fine, but nothing out of the ordinary and I still felt it was possible, if your main object was a massage rather than a spa day, to get better deals in Manchester city centre.