by Annette Kellow 

Running along Old Brompton Road panicking I was going to be late for my appointment at Urban Retreat, I can certainly say I was not feeling calm. I'd had a busy morning, my strap had broken on my shoe and the rain had given me a frizzy electrocuted look (that only those with curly hair know about it).

But arriving at The Hammam Moroccan Spa MarocMaroc, aptly on the top floor of Harrods, I was invited in by my lovely therapist who immediately took my coat and showed me the way to a beautiful airy changing room.

After putting on a fluffy white robe I was taken to the hot relaxation room. The heat and steam opens up the skin's pores releasing toxins, bacteria and other impurities making it ready for a deep exfoliation.

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Indeed The Moroccan Spa is based on the Hammam Ritual (a treatment that has played a significant part in Moroccan cultures of centuries) and is the main part of their practice.

I was then taken into a marble chamber which was also heated, and told to lie on the floor. I had never heard of this but you literally lie down and are cascaded with water, exfoliated with a mitt and then given a relaxing massage, to release more impurities.

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'Are you tired?' My therapist asked me. 'I don't think so,' I squeaked. She showed me a part of my hand which was really tense and then asked if I'd had a headache yesterday? Yes I said, I had! How did she know that? She explained that when we are tired our muscles often become tense sending signals to the brain, resulting in migraine. And the last week I had been very busy, rushing from place to place.

As she hit reflexology points on my hands, feet and head, I instantly began to feel the tenseness disappearing and let myself become fully immersed in the experience. After more exfoliating (it seemed the shedding skin was never ending!) she applied a clay mask on my body and face followed shortly by wrapping me up in a sheet, which felt a little like being cocooned as a baby.

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Another foot massage ensued (who was I to say no?) and then the clay was washed off with more cascading buckets of water. The big finale was a bucket of cold water, which she kindly asked my permission first, assuring me it would close the pores- hello ice bucket challenge!

I lastly retired to the relaxation room with Moroccan tea, dates and nuts. I truly felt like I had visited another country (albeit via the number 52 bus) in my fluffy towel, spacious seating area and dim relaxing lights. As I was leaving I was given some Moroccan body crème and an exfoliating mitt (clearly I needed it) and information on how to do self care massage at home.

Outside the rain had stopped and so had my rushing around- The Moroccan Spa at Urban Retreat had infused, invigorated and inspired me back to glowing relaxation.