The Aveda Effect
Aaaaand breathe. The Amanda Marsden AVEDA spa does the business on my body (and my mind, for that matter).
So, while one super-lucky Muddy competition winner is embarking on a year’s worth of Amanda Marsden signature hair pampering this January, I thought I’d tell you about the hidden gem within this rather wonderful salon, bang in the centre of Exeter. What you may not have clocked is that a very indulgent, stylish and surprisingly tranquil AVEDA spa is tucked away inside, making a city visit all the more appealing. I’ve been, I loved it and I look 21 again (Hey, don’t knock 2 out of 3!). And, guess what!? There’s a special Muddy offer up for grabs for you, too. January blues? PAH!
A handsome hunk of a building, right in the hub of the city on Queen Street (y’know the quarter that’s blossomed with cool restaurants and bars over the past few years?). Could it be any more convenient for a day-trip to Exeter? I think not. Plus, you’re next door to the RAMM (Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery), just a couple of minutes from the high street shops of Princesshay, the quirky boutiques of Gandy Street and the pretty lanes around Exeter Cathedral. It’s got “day trip” written all over it.
It might be busy outside, but you’re only bricks and mortar away from finding an altogether more zen vibe. True, downstairs is happily abuzz with the hair salon and retail space (along with a very cool communal table for those simply hanging out with a coffee and a magazine while they wait); but even then, the ayurvedic aromas of AVEDA envelop you and transport you up to the spa.
Here you’ll find several treatment rooms, as well as a quiet space to recline before and after. The decor is calming, with muted shades, low-lighting and dark wood, simple and stylish.
Importantly, it’s a completely unpretentious and super-professional environment here. Without any hint of complacency at being “an AVEDA salon”, I felt that everyone I encountered was on a deliberate mission to get me relaxed as soon as I was through the door. A little cup of signature tea awaits you (great for digestion) and off you go, on your journey to bliss.
You’ve no doubt heard of AVEDA, but do you know what the brand stands for? I didn’t, I must confess, but now I get it. In a very trimmed down nutshell, all you really need to know is two things: this is a brand where the focus is on the natural; so all of the products are organic and botanically-based, derived from planty things, which means they’re super-kind to the planet (and gorgeous-smelling). No parabens or other nasties here.
And second, it’s a holistically-minded brand, where the ancient principles of the Indian healing tradition of Ayurveda are integrated into the products and the treatments. 40 years ago, the founder got on board with the idea that the power of wellness promotes balance in mind, body and spirit. So the products are made to treat the whole package – mind, body and emotions – rather than target one specific problem. Pretty ahead of his time, no?
So, it’s worth knowing that the list of treatments for both men and women is mahoosive, covering face, body, beauty and waxing, with customised treatments designed to fix whatever issues you chat about during your consultation at the start.
I opted for the Aveda Aroma Massage (full body massage); a fairly innocuous treatment and yet, one that I find is all too easy to get wrong at some salons (ever felt like your therapist is going through the motions, thinking about what to have for dinner tonight, while you’re silently screaming at them to budge that knot?).
I must admit that I went in to the massage with a tension headache, but my lovely therapist Georgie totally got it and worked with it. First, she took into consideration what I was up to for the rest of the day and how I wanted to feel afterwards, by helping me to be guided by my nose and choose one of several aroma’s for my massage (they call them “functional aroma’s”). I could have gone for utterly blissed out or uplifted but I went for somewhere in the middle, I’m such an indecisive fence sitter.
And then on to the massage itself, one that most of you would probably happily have drifted off to Snoresville during (I find it impossible to sleep anywhere but in my bed). Georgie let me be and expertly delivered a thorough fix, from head to toe. There’s definitely some serious training happening behind the scenes, because those hands were magic. And I genuinely felt as though my mood had lifted by the end, leaving with a bit more of a bounce in my step.
Were it not for having to do the school run, I’d have happily spent another hour hanging out in the lounge afterwards, but alas I was off, hoofing it back home, where not even the Mudlet’s inevitable tantrums could bring me down.
OUT AND ABOUT
So if you’re in town, you can make a real day of it. Pop in to see Lorna Ruby and her ever-changing collection of beautiful pieces for your wardrobe or the home; pop next door to Exeter institution Lloyd’s Kitchen for lunch, or check out the brand new Lloyd’s Lounge over the road (I’m yet to, but hear good things); then stay on for cocktails, since there are so many new bars popping up. Muddy wants to try out Crockett’s, a swish gin and cocktail bar that I’m hearing more lovely things about. But don’t forget to drink lots of water after your pamper, will you? I don’t want to be Mumsy about this, but you know it makes sense.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Those who value quality products, kind to the planet, incorporated into treatments that do the business, in a stylish, luxurious space.
Not for: anyone yet to get on board with the holistic, Ayurvedic approach.
££: Really well priced, considering the expertise, the setting and the quality of products. A 1hr 15min treatment costs £55; waxing costs from £8 and manicures range from £15 (express) to £45 (the works).
Amanda Marsden AVEDA Lifestyle Salon & Spa, 75 Queen Street, Exeter, EX4 3RX. Tel: 01392 343102
*SPECIAL MUDDY OFFER KLAXON*!
Muddy readers can enjoy 20% off all spa services on Sunday’s and Monday’s throughout January & February (minimum spend £15, only valid at Amanda Marsden Exeter). Just tell them Muddy sent you when you book. Enjoy! x