This trip was the result of finding the many two-for-one and other offers for spa afternoons and experiences on lastminute.com, especially if you're able to take up offers available only during the week. Friend Jess and I went for an afternoon – being a teacher she was able to do this during half term, and being a freelance writerI can just work weekends and take time out during the week. This offer worked out at about £28 each for use of the spa and for a 45 minute treatment, with both of us going for the back, neck and shoulder massage. Bannatyne's is a nationwide chain so the offer is available pretty widely.
The Quay Street Bannatyne's – which is also a gym and fitness centre – has a pleasant enough if slightly odd spa. The many corridors can be a bit baffling, and the changing rooms are a bit big and draughty – more school gym lesson than luxurious spa. The sauna and steam room were fine and enjoyable, and situated next to a decent sized, if bizarrely shaped and slightly under-lit, swimming pool. Apparently this used to be a big, well-known pool with art deco decorations, diving boards etc, but a mezzanine has now gone in to extend the space available for the gyms etc. There could have been more loungers and chairs and you really need to take your own drinking water if you don't want to have to shell out for bottles from a machine, but for the price I wasn't complaining. The vouchers sent for the offer were ambiguous as to whether we'd be supplied with things like towels and robes and I think the Bannatyne's website implied that these would not be included. But they were, although slippers weren't.
The massage itself was, to put it bluntly, surprisingly good. After my experiences at the Radisson I'd come to expect that what I'd get somewhere like this would be an adequate but uninspiring beautician-with-a-bit-of-massage-training kind of deal. But I was lucky enough to get Tash. Now, she's not Jutika – but she might be in 5 or 10 years' time, if she stays in the profession.
From chatting to her, I got the distinct impression that she knows her stuff and has a genuine interest in massage and relaxation therapies. Her main training was, she said, in massage, and she's topped it up with skills in things like facials and manicures because it makes her more employable. The setting she's working in isn't ideal for setting off her talent – it's very much the kind of place where you walk in and are overwhelmed with a range of overpriced (if nice-smelling) potions in bottles and millions of shades of nail polish and lipstick. I'm guessing the staff are either on commission or that selling the contents of those various bottles is a major part of their role. But nevertheless, Tash gives a damn good massage – in-depth without being painful, and asking the right kind of questions about needs, pain levels and sore spots - so anyone finding themselves here should try asking for her. Having said that, Jess was pretty happy with her experience too, so maybe this place is lucky with its staff.
Contact details: Bannatyne's Health Club, Sunlight House, Quay Street, Manchester, M3 3JU , 0161 832 3227