So, what can you do? Well, one idea would be to take a leaf from the books of our Romans forbears, and indulge yourself at a Spa. Coming from
It’s fascinating how many cultures have adopted the spa culture: as well as the Romans, Islamic countries have a long tradition of Hamams (and, of course, the Turks invented the Turkish Bath). They bequeathed this wonderful tradition to the Hungarians (visiting a Spa in
And the French have their Thalassothérapie, which is essentially a spa using hot sea water. But essentially, it all boils down to the same thing: lots and lots of hot water, steam, saunas, massages, and some nice skin treatments. There’s something very primeval about enjoying yourself with lots of water around – it really relaxes you in a deep, fundamental way – and not just if your star sign is Pisces.
My own favourite spa tale relates to a Hamam in
We were beginning to feel a bit broiled and so made to leave, but the attendant firmly showed us back in. We were not ready yet. After another ten minutes, we were shown to a room with a large, hot marble slab. I was getting a bit nervous by this stage, as I’ve been given a very bad back by a few masseurs in the
After that, we were vigorously scrubbed down – ‘exfoliated’ doesn’t quite cover it – and hosed with freezing cold water. Just before I recovered my senses, we were plunged into a stone tub of incredibly hot water, and kept there just long enough to understand how a lobster might begin to feel. Just in time, we were hoisted out, dusted down with a towel, and wrapped in yet more hot towels to doze, pleasantly, for half an hour. I could happily have stayed like that for ever. I don’t think I’ve felt quite so rested. Wonderful.
Although we Brits have long neglected out Spa heritage, there are plenty of modern places to choose from around here, if you feel the urge. The Sanctuary has to be among the best known in London's Covent Garden, but many hotels have good spas, such as the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge, the Dorchester on Park Lane and the Langham near Oxford Circus. (All are open to non residents, but phone ahead first.) But perhaps the pick of the bunch in
Even the Romans would be happy!