How to make a DIY home spa

These days, you can get pretty much anything delivered to your door. Even a massage. One writer test-drives Urban Massage, a service who do exactly that, and shares her ten tips for turning your home into a tranquil massage haven.

Feature by Kate Pasola | 20 Nov 2015

This will probably sound smugger than an Oprah Instagram caption (sorry), but in the last few weeks I’ve been disgustingly busy. But not the charmingly accomplished sort of busy typically spotted in romcom montages where the protagonist applies lipstick in a rear-view mirror, shrugging in a self-satisfied manner to the taxi driver. Not even the type of busy where you trade in your lunch for a sugary Nescafé in order to feel the glory of scoring out a to-do list.

No, we’re talking the kind of busy where immediate family members become long lost relatives for a week or so, where the laundry basket truly runneth over, and where you eventually fall over due to exhaustion, exasperation, or a misplaced wet floor sign. And it’s at that point, ladies and gentlemen, when you’re head over sensible work-shoes, that it’s time to take it down a notch. It’s intervention time.

Don’t look so afraid – I’m not going to talk at you about me-time or mindfulness or meditation. Sure, in a perfect world we’d all hail our chariots and take an afternoon out from our schedules to indulge in some therapy and restore our ‘zen’ (whatever that even is). But guess what, your calendar will wait for no one, and how are you to be expected to fit, say, a relaxing massage into your day if you can’t even manage to fit in a panini, for crissakes?

Well, turns out it’s easier than you might have thought. Turns out there’s a company, Urban Massage, who’re willing to pop over to your home, massage table in hand, at your hourly whim. Turns out you can have it all. Who'da believed it?

Using their sleek little app, you can book in for an appointment for a range of massage therapies, from from Deep Tissue to Pregnancy; and within one hour a fully qualified and vetted masseuse human being will appear at your front door. Call me old fashioned, but I found that slightly mind blowing. So I decided to put it to the test – but first came the challenge of transforming my slightly stressful home environment into an utterly tranquil place of peace. Behold: ten steps to your very own DIY home spa.

1. Book your massage

Use the Urban Massage app to pick your treatment, therapist and preferred appointment time. If you’re feeling wacky, you can book an appointment within the hour, which is plenty of time to achieve steps 2-10.

2. Find your zen
3...Or, failing that, find a spacious area in your house.

Clear a space where you can feel calm and chilled. My front room is the antithesis of relaxing; books I haven’t had the chance to read, a selection of devices blinking their LEDs and vibrating in pursuit of my attention, a dehydrated cactus reminding me that, ultimately, i’m an incompetent life-giver. Put it all in a different room and wave ciao to feelings of inadequacy. For an hour, at least.

4. stay toasty

You’re likely to be covered in mostly towels, so it’s important to make sure your home is warm enough to avoid mid-massage frostbite, especially in Edinburgh. Close the shutters, crank up the heating and get things feeling cosy. Which brings us to…

5. Mood lighting

No amount of fairylighting is too much fairylighting. Within reason. Actually, no, not within reason at all.

6. Sweet massage melodies

Rather than the usual plinky-plonky spa music you can choose your own playlist of music you actually like!  I decided to chuck on a bit of C Duncan and Glass Animals, and they worked an absolute treat. Dariusz, my therapist liked it too.

7. Attend to your nose

Give yourself the best chance of forgetting there’s an outside world by catering for your sense of smell too – get a gorgeous candle on the go. Do yourself a favour though, and don’t pick the 'fresh linen' one. Since when was the smell of laundry relaxing, ever? You’ll just start thinking about that overflowing laundry basket again, and your scribbly day-planner, and that time you slipped over in the Post Office, and – STOP IT, BRAIN!

8. Stock up the fridge

I know this makes it sound like you’re preparing for an apocalypse rather than a dreamy massage in the comfort of your own home, but bear with me.The whole point of Urban Massage is indulging in a professional massage without needing to hike home in the rain afterwards. After being pampered for an hour or two in your warm, fairylit haven, the last thing you’re going to want to do is nip out in the rain for a jar of pesto. Unless you picked the peppermint-scented ‘Energising’ massage, of course.

9. Let the world know

Interpret this how you will. Basically, let those who might need to get in touch that you’re 100% off the radar. A text will do… but a smug “how’s your Monday?” massage selfie counts too. Just remember to turn your phone off afterwards.

10. Oh, and let your cohabitants know...

Live with family or flatmates? Just passing on this one from experience, it sort of harshes the mellow if you’re worried someone’s going to waltz into your temporary spa palace and turn the telly on.

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Urban Massage currently operates in Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Manchester and Birmingham. Prices for a range of treatments begin at £45 per hour.