Foot reflexology (Dh70)
Go to: The Nail Spa (04-3685070)
Why it's luxe: If your feet and your body are in need of some quick-fix pampering after a shopping spree, this is the treatment for you. For the treatment, you are led away into the separated pedicure section of the buzzing salon, where you kick back with a magazine and cup of tea, while the friendly therapist takes over. Reflexology focuses on pressure points on the feet that connect to the body's various organs - so it can be slightly painful in parts, when it hits problem areas, but is generally relaxing. My therapist accurately diagnosed I may be having some eye trouble and promised that the reflexology session would help the healing process. The fact that this treatment is a quick 40 minutes makes this the perfect pit stop after a particularly hard day at work or around town - I left feeling decidedly more de-stressed and energised.
- Sudeshna Ghosh
Spray tan (Dh150)
Go to: Pastels, Al Wasl Road (04-3947393/5)
Why it's luxe: This welcoming salon on Al Wasl Road uses the professional Sun FX Airbrush Tanning system. The tan uses an active ingredient called DHA which reacts with the amino acids in the uppermost layer of the skin and causes it to turn brown. Even though I was a little intimidated at first, I found the experience brief and relaxing. The room is private and welcoming, and the staff make you feel completely at ease. I was required to stand for ten minutes while the tan was applied all over my body, then a further ten minutes while I was fanned down as the tan dries. Since it is applied by an expert hand, it is extremely accurate, with no streaks or patches. The tan is washed off eight hours after application, and the natural glow lasts around a week. With the price of self-tan in UAE shops ridiculously expensive, at a wallet-friendly Dh150, this treatment is a quick, effective and inexpensive way to get an even glow all over your body, without frazzling your skin in the sun or on sunbeds.
- Morven Philp
Body scrub (Dh130)
Go to: Senso Spa, Radisson Blu Hotel, Media City (04-3669111)
Why it's luxe: If winter has left your skin feeling parched and inneed of a little TLC, then the sea mineral salt body polish is great way to give it a little love. Relax and unwind in the tranquil setting of one of the themed treatment rooms, while your therapist applies Anne Sémonin oil to your body. Next comes a gentle massage - a mineral salt scrub is rubbed in circular motions over your entire body, from your shoulders right down to your toes. The sea salt scrub exfoliates the skin, removing dead skin cells while also soothing any irritation caused by dryness. Your skin is left feelingsilky, supple and completely hydrated and will definitely thankyou, too.
- Kerry-Anne Henrico
Moroccan bath (Dh220)
Go to: Aroushi Beauty Salon and Spa, Jumeirah (04-3486263)
Why it's luxe: A villa salon with a lovely, inviting atmosphere, Aroushi has its Hammam area located upstairs, providing a tranquil oasis away from the nail and hair stations. After a thorough steam session to open up my pores, my therapist used an aromatherapy gel to ensure my skin was completely clean in preparation for the rich olive soap which is massaged all over. Then the steam is again unleashed to allow the soap to work its magic. After this, a loofah is used to exfoliate the skin and there is something deeply satisfying about seeing all the old, dead skin peeling off. After another rinse, a clay masque is applied to deep cleanse the skin. The mask also has antiseptic properties and encourages the newly revealed skin to glow - plus it has a yummy apple smell! The entire treatment lasted around 90 minutes, leaving me with incredibly soft skin, not to mention totally relaxed muscles which ensured an excellent night's sleep. I will definitely be adding this to my next appointment to elevate a routine salon visit to a pampering spa experience.
Gel nail extensions (Dh240)
Go to: Tips & Toes, various locations (04-3619696)
Why it's luxe: With any treatment at Tips and Toes, you are guaranteed a professional, pampering experience. My therapist began with a manicure, then started the step-by-step nail extension procedure by cutting and filing the nail tips and applying a thin layer of gel liquid on each nail. During the treatment, my nails felt light and there was no irritation - thanks to the quality of nail products used. Lastly, a white cream-like solution was lightly feathered to create an immaculate French tip. My hands were then placed under the light for ten minutes to dry and a clear polish applied to protect the nails. My nails felt strong which is a good sign, and the refined effect makes it look like real nails. I'm certain I will get at least a month's wear from the treatment.
- Naheed Akram
Full body massage (Dh270)
Go to: Zaitoon Wellness spa (04-3519111)
Why it's luxe: The soothing colours, discreet lighting and calming music in the spa lulls you into forgetting the outside world almost immediately. After filling out the usual questionnaire, and a welcome cup of tea, I was led to the inviting, intimate treatment room - all the treatment rooms are named after flowers and I found myself in Frangipani. The Wellbeing Aroma Massage uses warmed aromatherapy oil - you get to choose from two options, I went with an exotic olive and rose combination - and induces top to toe relaxation, as your body succumbs to the rhythmic strokes. The massage was very thorough, and even though my therapist concentrated on areas of high tension in my back and neck, sometimes using stronger pressure, she did not neglect other areas. I was willing her to carry on even after my 80 minutes were up, but I left feeling more relaxed than a normal one-hour massage could ever have made me feel - and it cost less as well!
- Sushmita Larkins
Body wrap (Dh270)
Go to: Maven Spa (04-2888480)
Why it's luxe: This cosy spa is one of Mirdiff's best kept secrets, offering luxe treatments at affordable prices. Their speciality is the use of divine-smelling, natural products so it was a no-brainer to head there when my skin was in need of a pick-me-up. The body wrap starts with an exfoliation using ground rice combined with fragrant lavender oil. Next came the application of a mineral-rich volcanic mud mask with active ingredients that harnesses the powers of antioxidants to detoxify and nourish the skin. The mask is cold to the touch, but warms up as you lie wrapped in it. The treatment is finished off with a yoghurt body conditioner that, combined with the nourishing effect of the previous steps, left my skin incredibly soft and smooth - and the result lasts for days.
- Shilpa Nagory
Go to: Nivea Haus Spa (04-4340777)
Why it's luxe: A fuss-free, no-frills treatment, the Deluxe Facial does exactly what it promises. The Nivea Haus spa is surprisingly spacious, with clinically white, futuristic interiors. You'll forget you're in a mall once you enter the cosy, candle-lit treatment room. The therapist first does a quick examination under a glaring spotlight to figure out your skin's problem areas, then gets to work with cleansing. The procedure in the facial is standard - cleanse; exfoliate; steam and extract; face massage; mask and moisturiser, and the products are chosen according to skin type. The key to a good treatment lies in two things - the quality of products and the expertise of the therapist, and Nivea Haus comes out on top on both counts. The face massage, followed by a foot massage during the time the mask was left on, were so relaxing that I dozed off - something I rarely manage in a spa treatment. And the efficiency of the facial was evident in the refreshed, natural glow I saw on my skin when the treatment ended.
Go to: Azur spa offers at-home treatments in the comfort of your own home. (04-4475284, www.azurspa.com)
Why it's luxe: The fact that you don't even need to leave the house is a serious luxury for most of us with hectic lifestyles. The therapists turned up with an updated version of Mary Poppins' carpet bag - a huge pull-along suitcase in bright pink and turquoise retro bubble print, out of which they pulled out proper foot spas, little chairs and countless products and tools. Within minutes I was sitting back on my sofa, feet bubbling away in the foot spa, cup of tea in my hand, watching Come Dine With Me, pondering over what shade of red to go for - an unbeatable combo for a relaxing evening. The treatment was as professional and luxurious as one in any top nail salon, with exfoliating, scrubbing and a massage before polishing, and the mani-pedi looked great. The colour has lasted well over a week with barely a chip in sight. I thoroughly enjoyed my treatment and certainly plan on booking again.
- Louisa Wilkins
Head, Neck and Shoulder Massage (Dh120)
Go to: Sisters Beauty Lounge, Dubai Mall (04-3398500)
Why it's luxe: After a long day of mall-trawling, I was desperately in need of some R&R. Not expecting the mall salon to be anything more than a dressed down version of the flagship salon, I was surprised to find a huge space divided up into a funky waiting bar, hair salon, another room for nail stations and a corridor leading in to several treatment rooms. As my massage was only 30 minutes, I was happy to find that my therapist was quick to get going so as not to waste any precious relaxation time. Being a fan of long full-on 90-minute massages, I wasn't sure if 30 minutes would do the trick when it came to undoing my built-up knots. However, thanks to my experienced therapist, my shoulders and neck were unravelled in no time, and instead of feeling zoned out after my massage, I actually felt quite wide awake.
- Charlene Stubbs
Aquarius is tweeting: Follow Sudeshna Ghosh on @ghosh_aquarius