Me, on Saturday (not really me)

Dilemma: you’re off to the spa for the day, and you wanna maximise your money and time, making sure the treatment you choose is not only effective and fully-featured, but which also leaves time for lolling about reading magazines, drinking herbal tea and lazing in the thermal suite, hydro-pool and hot tub. Yeah, I know, FWP, or what?

Solution: I reckon I found it on Saturday, at Lyrath in Kilkenny, where I was a guest for a night. It’s the signature facial at the hotel’s Oasis Spa and it’s the Skin Illuminating Rice Facial (€120 or €130 if you include the Pro 30 Multi Acid Peel), exclusive to the hotel. Boy howdy, does it fit a lot in.

Spa facials can be a bit… whelming. You’re there for a pamper, not a full-on extraction sesh, which you’ll get at the therapists’. Whale music and dim lighting are indeed great for your stress levels, but they ain’t so hot for your facialist’s eagle eye, so that’s why I was pretty pleased when mine turned the lights up full, and gave my skin a good once-over to see what my issues actually were, instead of just blithely slapping a load of stuff on and sending me on my way. (We’ve all had a few facials like this, huh?)

lyrath oasis spa

Ben Affleck’s brother was sadly absent on Saturday.

Kerstin Florian itself is a high-end spa brand found in spas like Knockranny and Fota and its caviar facial is one I’ve had before. No, no actual fish eggs. 

The Skin Illuminating Rice Facial is 85 minutes of face and body work, and it’s really decent: for the complexion section, (among other constituent parts) there’s a chemical exfoliant used as well as a rice-based one to work on brightness and a vitamin C serum, so the overall aim and effect is resurfacing, refreshing, brightening and hydrating.

Pretty much my complexion wants rolled into a handy package with added warm towels and whale music. Booon-usss.

Add to that some targeted neck and shoulder massage, a head rub, hand and nail attention (plus glorious heated mitts) and a foot massage – all using scented oils – and you’ve got a treatment that’s an absolutely brilliant one to pick if the dilemma part above is something that’s of concern.

This is a treatment really does do everything that’s such a big part of the spa-sperience: massage, pampering, lying about being dosed with scented unguents: check; check; check.

lyrath oasis spa

This infinity pool and I became good buddies.

Once my neck and shoulders are de-tensioned and my face is tended to, I’m a happy bunny. Throw me a head massage and I’m in heaven, then let me loose in an indoor/outdoor plunge pool (especially on a crisp autumn day), until I prune, and I’m, well, nirvana-ed out.

The facial I can’t fault, though ask them to leave the head rub out if you don’t want to wash your hair afterwards. You WILL have to wash your hair, because oil is involved.

The spa itself is large and calm, with nice treatment rooms, though if I’m being super-noticing, I’d say the thermal facilities seem a little on the slim side: there’s no hot tub here or a swimming pool; the hotel’s health centre has the pool and a jacuzzi, but it’s a bit buzz-busting to shuffle out of the spa to get to them. 

That’s nit-picky; the indoor/outdoor infinity plunge-style pool in the spa is fab and it abuts a sauna and steam room, so there’s plenty of laze-about potential. And that extends to the hotel; this place is huge. Deceptively so, and well worth a visit. 

Oh, and if you happen to be in Kilkenny, nip into the Smithwick’s brewery tour in the city centre. It’s excellent, offering a guided experience with talking pictures that live the history of the brand atcha, and which are right out of Harry Potter, helping to bring the story right to life.

Lyrath Estate Hotel & Spa, Kilkenny; www.lyrath.com