Farah Hosny is probably the only person who'd come back from a holiday, ask for me time, and actually end up at Mandara Spa to make it happen.
When you go on holiday and you come back saying you really need to relax and destress, you know everyone wants to punch you in the ovaries. But when, during said holiday, your phone gets stolen on your first night there, and you then proceed to lose the bride’s phone (it’s a bachelorette party), lose the bride herself, basically break a kneecap lugging your suitcase down three flights of stairs, live off a steady diet of Cheerios and Tequila, and sleep on airport chairs because you missed the flight after your layover - well, between the mental and physical exhaustion, you really, really need a massage. Ideally, you kind of need an entire week at the spa, but I’m not Oprah. So when the JW Marriott Hotel Cairo invited me over for a massage, body scrub, and facial at their glorious Mandara Spa, it felt like the gods had finally forgiven me for that time I stole gummy bears from Sweet Sweet Way at the nady and were on my side.
I head over to the hotel and am led into the changing room by my masseuse, who says her name is - as per her pronunciation - ‘Ow’, and told to change into the required attire. I am given these frilly, flouncy, little black disposal underwear things; they kind of look like something Marie Antoinette would wear, but on sexy Mondays when she’s trying to start things up with Louis.
The room she leads me into is beautiful; spacious with marble flooring, two massage beds lie encased in a four-poster-esque space where, at each corner, wispy lilac and eggshell curtains are tied.
I lie face down on the massage bed and she begins with the body scrub while delicate music fills the air, slathering a grainy, rough-textured paste onto my skin that contains sea salt and has a mild scent of fresh oranges. The scrub goes a little something like this:
Haaa relaxation at last. This is wondrous.
Ooh, yay, that scrub on my legs feel great. I’m going to come out of this with total Gisele legs, YAS!
Hmm, she seems to be moving up a little. She is rubbing scrub on my butt. Alright, that’s happening.
Not awkward at all.
Not at all.
Aaaand it’s still awkward.
“Turn over please, miss. Do you want cover [signals at general boob area] or…”
Yes Ow, I want a cover, please. I know you rubbed sea salt on my behind but I don’t want to expose myself if you don’t mind. We’re not quite there yet.
After the body scrub is complete, I am led to a giant shower to wash off the rough grains that were still strewn on my skin, and then led back to the table to begin the massage. Starting with my back, Ow kneads at the (numerous, I’m sure) knots with an unusual amount of strength for such a tiny person, slowly but surely causing every ounce of stress I have to entirely dissipate. As she moves systematically onto my arms and legs, I’m pretty much the most relaxed I’ve been all month.
The final step was a facial – though I feel like the more appropriate terminology would be a face massage, to be honest. Facials always have an element of cleansing – it’s not unpleasant, per se, but neither is it an entirely pleasant process. This, on the other hand, involved a whole lot of creams, and more creams, and plenty of circular motions and much squishing of the cheeks. It was positively glee-inducing.
By the time Ow had completed all three therapies, I was relaxed, muscles were significantly less tense, and I’m fairly sure my skin was about eight times softer than when we had started out. It was so absurdly tranquil in that room, between the dreamy calming tunes and the fragrant aromas, that for the better part of a full two hours, the entire world ceased to exist. Turns out the whole time there was a crazy storm raging outside (for possibly the fourth time in Egypt’s entire existence), so I emerged to approximately 18 missed calls and messages telling me to be careful of the roads. But it was okay, I was totally relaxed and ready to take on the next four hours of traffic it would take me to get home.
You can check out the JW Marriott Hotel Cairo on Facebook here or follow them on Instagram @jwmarriottcairo.