SpaSpy: A pre-Christmas pamper at The Hayfield Manor, Cork
The Beautique Spa at Cork's Hayfield Manor Hotel is something of a treat. Quiet, calm and tucked away from the bustle of the city beyond, first impressions are that the place is something of an oasis. Just entering the wooded courtyard that serves as the gateway to the dark wood and polish of the hotel is enough to make you come over all relaxed and to its credit, what's on the inside isn't too bad for the soul either.
Despite the luxuries of a very grand entrance, there lies within some altogether more personal touches. The welcome is warm and genuine, soft chairs are provided for checking in and between waiting in the lobby for a top-hatted escort to take you to the Spa itself, a roaring lobby log fire provides some wonderful winter warmth for chilled winter bones.
The Beautique Spa itself is not somewhere I had really heard of before my visit. Despite being the first Elemis Spa in Ireland, it's something of a hidden gem. The decor falls towards the charms of chateaux and brocade rather than zen modern. The chandeliers, gilt mirrors and flowers make for an atmosphere of warmth rather than introspection and this is reflected in a spa with an ethos on pampering and treats rather than treatment.
With everything from Indian head massage to ear candling available, how exactly I would be pampering myself proved to be a difficult decision. Given the chill outside, the hot stone massage looked more than enticing but with the Christmas party season looming, a quick look at my frazzled winter hands quickly made my mind up for me.
Thinking that a mani and a pedi might not be the most luxurious treatment to order at a five-star hotel and spa, I did feel a little sheepish. After meeting Evelyn, my therapist, it soon became apparent I needn't have worried. As manicures and pedicures go, the Beautique OPI luxury file and polish is about as far removed from the lunchtime nail bar experience as I think it possible to get and as there was the relaxation suite and steam room for afters I got over my practical side quickly enough.
After my hands had been bathed in Monoi Oil infused water, Evelyn got to work on a divine moisturising hand wrap. Add to the wrap a good 15 minutes in heated mittens and by the time the gloves were off, my cuticles tidied, nails neatly buffed and rounded I was having real difficulty in recognising my new hands from the unruly mess that I had looked down on earlier in the day.
What was true of the manicure was also true of the pedicure. Being the sort of place the Hayfield is, there is a separate suite devoted to the prettification of feet and if an hour seems excessive I quickly discovered that by the time the last coats of OPI had been applied the winter chill had disappeared, the time had flown and my thoughts turned to showing off the sparkle in my new nails over a rather grand dinner at the hotel.
Quite why they keep the place as a discreet hide-away is beyond this reviewer. Despite the Hayfield being a city hotel, the space, size and attention to detail afforded by the Beautique Spa is everything you would expect and much much more - a real find!
Factfile: The Beautique Spa
Where is it: The Hayfield Manor Hotel, Cork.
Sample treatments: Hot stone massage, anti-ageing facial, Hoppi ear candle treatments and a good range of not so basic basics!
Luxury factor: 4/5
Value for money: 4/5
For afters: A glass of wine from the superb cellar and a book by the fire.
Current offers: Two nights B&B in a Manor Room with one dinner, €50 credit towards treatments per guest in The Beautique Spa and a late checkout. €239 PPS.
Contact: Call 021 4845900 or visit www.hayfieldmanor.ie to book