Top Santé Editor, Katy Sunnassee,
heads to Spa Verta at the Crowne
Plaza Hotel, Battersea, London, for
some relaxation and a lava
shells massage.

My job is full on. Mentally, that is. It never feels like I have any breathing space. Physically it’s not a pretty picture either, as despite being editor of a health magazine that advises people to move more (sitting is the new smoking, as everyone tells us), I spend most of my life sitting: in a car, then a train, then an office, or at home at the kitchen table or on the sofa with a laptop planted to my lap (and yes, I do now use an EMF protector pad when sitting with the computer on my legs – you can find out more about those in the July issue of the magazine).

Making time to rest and reset

But I digress… I was in desperate need of some pampering when I arrived at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Battersea, London. After a full-on morning of meetings, I’d taken rather a long cab journey to the hotel but it was worth it (top tip: visit mid-week as you’ll have the whole place, almost, to yourself. Bliss!).

The hydro pool at Spa Verta has under- and over-water jets to massage your body

I’d not fully realised how much tension had accumulated in both my body and mind, but as I eased down into the section of the pool that blows jets of air at your body below the water line, to pummel out the knots, I began to let go.

The sauna at Spa Verta

A 10-minute session in the sauna helped further relax and soften my rigid limbs, before I laid down on one of those stone beds that are set in a reclining position, and virtually fell asleep under a towel before my attentive therapist gently announced it was time for my massage…

Heated loungers next to the sauna area, perfect for taking a nap!

Totally in love with lava shells

Let me just say I’m not new to lava shell massages – they’ve been around for years and I made them a regular part of my self-care routine when I started my job for Top Santé – it felt rather indulgent and extravagant at the time, but I’ve since come to think that if you have a sedentary desk job where you’re always typing, a regular massage is not a luxury but a health necessity (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!).

Katy’s Treatment Room at Spa Verta

The lava shell massage at Spa Verta was no disappointment, as my therapist expertly got to work on my tight shoulders and applied just the right pressure – I’m a bit like Goldilocks when it comes to massages, liking not too much nor too little pressure, but a sweet spot in between.

And this will seem a bit nerdy, but I loved the fact she put a towel over the back of my head to stop stray hairs getting caught up in either her fingers or the shells – a seemingly insignificant thing, you might think, and nothing to do with the actual massage itself, but yet for me, quite revelatory. Having had hundreds of massages in my time, I’ve always found it off-putting and frustrating when my hair does, inevitably, get tugged, so this towel trick really helped and I will be suggesting it to all future masseuses!

The Relaxation area

Afterwards, instead of rushing to get ready, I left my phone locked in the locker and went to sit in the (empty) relaxation room. Despite being able to hear the therapists busying about, I sat quietly and read magazines while sipping complementary tea, eager to prolong my inner stillness before venturing back out into the world. Although I had a load of emails to answer, it felt deeply nourishing simply taking this time for myself to be still and read something completely unrelated to my job (a fashion magazine!).

Feeling truly relaxed amidst rush hour

On my cab ride back to the station, I realised something quite miraculous had occurred during my short time at Spa Verta: I actually felt completely and utterly relaxed. Despite the traffic, which made the journey take forever, I felt absolutely no sense of hurry or worry.

I sat still and serenely, enjoying the scenery as it passed by: people walking along the Southbank; the Houses of Parliament; the financial district. The sun was out and I, for the first time in forever, actually felt completely at ease. The feeling was slightly unnerving as it made me realise just how much of my time is spent in a tense, pent-up state.

And, the next day the eczema patch on my hand, which I’d been trying to heal with numerous creams, had almost disappeared, which I put down to the sauna as they help you detox.

So, I say thanks to Spa Verta and my wonderful therapist: I hope to be back again soon!

Crowne Plaza Battersea stands impressively along the south bank of the river Thames

More information: A full-body lava shell massage at Spa Verta, Crowne Plaza Battersea, is £90 for 55 mins and £50 for a 25-minute back massage.
Access to the Spa facilities is £35 without treatment. You can get free access when booking a treatment of at least two hours. For one-hour treatments, spa access is an additional £10 Monday to Friday and £30 extra on Saturday and Sunday. Spa membership is £75 per month.