A seaweed bath at Voya, StrandhillThursday, 29 August 2013
Holy mackerel, Batman. It's been a month since my last post? How terribly disorganised. Let me make it up to you by showing you my best impression of a sea monster...
If I ever go missing, I want this to be the photo used by media across the globe.
At the end of July, one of my bestest friends came over for a holiday, with her boyfriend and baby, for a holiday in the bloody relentless rain. They've been to Leitrim quite a lot, thankfully, so they're used to the shitty weather.
I'm pretty sure that every time they come over, I take them to Strandhill. Strandhill is a bit of a funny one - it's far and away the most popular beach in the area, but its biggest drawback is that you can't swim in the sea. You can surf, and by golly, people do, but if you so much as dip a toe in the water, the lifeguards are on your case. With good reason too - the rips are deadly.
So when I want to go to the beach properly, I usually opt for another. But if I fancy a walk, some surfer-perving, and a big feed, I go to Strandhill.
The other big draw is the seaweed baths. I remember the first one I ever had. I remember walking into the room and saying something along the lines of...
"Huh. So it really is just seaweed... in a bath."
And that it is. A big, piled heap of slimy, gooey seaweed.
I think one or two people are put off by this, but it doesn't feel like the seaweed that grabs your leg in the sea and makes you think of terrifying ghostly hands. You just sit on a pile of it, rub it all over yourself, and then try to pop the bubbles on the leaves.
Usually, I go for a double room, which has two baths and a steam shower. This means you can have piles of fun over the allotted fifty minutes, doing impressions of mermaids, throwing seaweed at the other person when you see they've closed their eyes, etc etc.
This time, due to poor planning, I had to go it alone, in a single room. Which wasn't quite as good. A few minutes into my soak, I wished that I'd brought a book. I was so terribly, terribly alone. I missed my friend. I wondered how far away her room was, and contemplated yelling through the walls at her.
Like a hammam, a seaweed bath seems like something you really should do with someone.
I actually had a second date in a seaweed bath once. That was pretty weird. Maybe wait until you're a little further into the relationship before sweating in a big green gloop in front of each other.
There are all kinds of amazing qualities to the seaweed. But I'll just tell you the ones that I can vouch for.
- Your skin feels AMAZING afterwards.
- As does your hair. Though if you have a thick mop, beware - the weight of the slime often means that it's really hard to lift my head up out of the water once I've dunked it in.
- You really feel like you're sweating out toxins, especially with in combination with the steam
You do have a big red face afterwards, but I always have a big red face, so I can't let that pull me down.
After a bath, the best thing to do is to go into Shell's Cafe next door, wait a million hours for a table, and then devour a marinated chicken burger. Then never stop talking, or thinking, about the chicken burger.
Before the bath, of course, you should head off for a big long walk. The bath is the reward. I discovered a beautiful new walk a few weeks ago, which I'll post soon.
There are other seaweed baths around the country, but the one in Enniscrone is the only other I've tried. It's a more traditional bath, whereas Voya definitely feels like a spa. Some people like the rough and ready feel to it, and to be honest, the results are exactly the same. What you need to watch out for are the hotel spas offering a seaweed bath, when really what they do is tip a packet of pre-prepared seaweed into the tub. You need the real deal, harvested that morning by burly men in bright yellow waders.
A seaweed bath costs €25pp, for either a single or a shared room. You can share a single room, alternating between the bath and the steam, but that just seems pointless to me.