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Review: The Float Spa, Hove

Muddy tries out a unique form of relaxation therapy at this hidden gem of a spa in Hove's trendy Third Avenue.

If you’re not familiar with floatation therapy, it can take a bit of getting your head around. As far as relaxation goes, this is a completely hands-off experience, although the Float Spa offers massage, yoga and other forms of therapy, the floatation experience after which it’s named is a very solitary pursuit.

Nonetheless founder Camille, who is also a trained life coach, maintains that floating was the only thing that helped her with PTSD symptoms following her daughter becoming seriously ill – thankfully, she recovered and so did Camille, who went on to open the Float Spa to bring the same magic formula to more people in Sussex.

Here’s the science bit, floatation is the practice of floating effortlessly in a pod of water rich in Epsom Salts. Without the constant stress of the world surrounding you, your body lowers its levels of stress hormone cortisol and your brain releases feel-good endorphins, leading to a relaxing and nourishing experience. Your muscles, bones and joints are also free to take a well-deserved break, supported by the magnesium-rich water. After around 40 minutes your actual brain chemistry alters and you begin to release Theta waves, a state normally associated with deep meditative practice. Essentially, all the benefits of a daily meditation practice, in a one-hour appointment. Sound good? Let’s float!

THE VIBE

Tucked away on Hove’s Third Avenue, The Float Spa is an aromatic haven of calm. Parking is a cinch on-street although do be aware the machines don’t take cash so you’ll need to use the Pay By Phone app. Download it in advance to avoid arriving late and flustered muttering about ‘bloody parking’. No, I’ve absolutely never done that.

The spa itself is a little gem, with a tranquil reception area that smells wonderful and is stuffed with the sort of goodies you could easily spend ages browsing – bath bombs and salts, crystals, yoga wear and so on. Info on all the various treatments line the walls, along with beautiful and calming artwork.

Pre-Covid, there’s a consultation before the appointment and a chance to get your questions answered. I was sent a video consultation beforehand which featured Camille talking through the process, but I had to search the site to find the answer to my most pressing question – what do I wear? Wetsuit? Swimsuit? Birthday suit? Turns out, the latter, which is why you won’t find any photos of Muddy in this review.

THE TREATMENT

I’m directed to my therapy room which contains the rather sci-fi looking pod, a shower, and a thoughtfully-placed chair and table for my bits and bobs. There are also towels, and the shower is equipped with shower gel, shampoo and conditioner which is helpful as I forgot all of the above. A quick shower first to get rid of any nasties, and it’s just me and the pod.

The water is a lovely temperature, warm but not cloying, and the texture is noticeably thicker and silkier than ‘normal’ water – this thanks to the astonishing 1,000lb of Epsom Salts added to achieve the desired floating. After a couple of minutes of faffing around because I forgot to put in my (provided) ear plugs, and checking that if I shut the lid, it’ll open again, I lie back, turn off the light, and – well. What now?

Relaxation music plays – the soothing sound of waves, plus the odd call of a sea bird. In the induction video Camille explained the music lasts 10 minutes, then it stops, and you’re on your own. The lights in the room operate on a sensor, and soon they go out, and the darkness is all-encompassing. When the music stops I have a moment of panic, that was only 10 minutes and I have a full 50 left.

I don’t want to lie there already writing the review in my head, or thinking about all the stuff I have to do afterwards. Nonetheless thoughts come and go, as they do. But most of all I just feel the absence of any stimulus, the softness of the water, and the ease of just lying there, floating. I move around a few times, curious to see if it makes any difference and what I might even consider ‘difference’. Although I keep my eyes closed for most of the time, I don’t feel sleepy.

Sooner than I expect, the relaxation sounds start up again, indicating just five minutes until the end of the treatment. I get out and stumble into the shower feeling slightly dazed and child-like, not quite like I’ve been reborn but definitely like I’ve moved from one state into another.

Still slightly dazed, I head back to reception where an absolutely delightful member of staff offers me a cup of tea. The choice is overwhelming and I stare stupidly at the various blends, all with their own benefits. The receptionist affirms kindly that it can be hard to make choices straight after a treatment, but I eventually go for a blend aimed at sparking the imagination. It tastes lovely and I’m very happy in reception, drinking my tea and chatting to the kind and friendly staff. I feel rather cocooned and very well looked-after, and still in a slightly childlike state – not confused, so much as curious. The physical equivalent of blinking when a bright light goes on after you’e been in the dark. That Theta state really is mighty pleasant.

OTHER TREATMENTS

Alongside floating, the Float Spa offers massage, yoga, infrared saunas, acupuncture, coaching and nutrition. Overall it has the feel of a very upmarket clinical lifestyle space, with serious credentials, as opposed to a more beauty-focused offering. Therapeutically speaking, it’s the real deal, but with a very luxe and person-focused treatment.

AROUND AND ABOUT

Next door, Oeuf Cafe was bustling and looked the perfect place to catch your breath with a post-treatment coffee and snack before going back to ‘the real world’. Hove seafront is a short walk away, so you can extend those Theta waves with sea views and even your second salty dip of the day, if you feel like tackling the English Channel after an hour in a warm cocoon. Nearby neighbourhood bistro Wild Flor is one to visit for lunch or dinner, as is etch. by MasterChef: The Professionals winner Steven Edwards. Staying in town? Drakes of Brighton is the ultimate seafront hotel.

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