Relaxation in Egypt
The ancient Egyptians used to spend hours pampering their bodies with complex mineral-rich and oil-based treatments. Ever since the days when Cleopatra bathed in milk, Egypt's rich natural resources have been used to boost health and sooth the soul, and many exotic treatments applied in the country have their roots in the practices of the Pharaohs.
In a frenetic city such as Cairo, a spa treatment is the ultimate pick-me-up, while along the Red Sea coast you can enjoy your recuperation by taking a gentle saunter from beach to a massage bed.
Queen Cleopatra bath in milk & honey
Inspired by the beauty treatments of the Queen of the Nile, this begins with a soak in milk and honey - apparently the rich lactic acid in milk does wonders for the skin - followed by a body massage with oils and a luxurious facial. This treatment is available to contemporary Cleopatras at many luxury hotels, including the Four Seasons and the Mandara Spa at the Marriot in Cairo, and at the Hyatt, in Taba.
Once solely the preserve of Egyptian royalty, Pharaonic massage uses aromatic poultices filled with fresh camomile and mint that are dipped into fresh almond oil and then applied. It's ideal for soothing away Pharaonic-scale cares, relaxing tired muscles and nourishing the skin, and is on offer at the Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo, as well as other worthy-of-a-Pharaoh five-star hotels.
Arabian coffee ritual
Can't do without your morning coffee? Indulge in caffeine as you never have before, via the exotic Arabian coffee ritual. This begins with a soft scrub and wrap of freshly ground coffee, Red Sea minerals and milk (no sugar). The coffee helps detoxify the skin and increase circulation. The aromatic adventure is topped off with a vigorous cocoa butter massage. It's available at the Four Seasons, Sharm el-Sheikh, where you can have the treatment in a Bedouin tent with Red Sea views.
Egyptian massage has a distinctive style that has been developed over millennia. It consists of a vigorous combination of stretching and pummelling that's ideal for relaxing the muscles after a strenuous diving trip. Indulge in combination packages that also include Egyptian hair wraps and facials, at sumptuous resort the Royal Savoy in Sharm el-Sheikh, one of the town's finest hotels.
The art of raqs sharqi (eastern dance) or belly-dancing, is performed all over the Arab world, but has its soul in Egypt, and is a splendid way to shimmy your cares away. In Cairo you can learn with Amora Dance, who also teach other Egyptian pastimes including cymbal playing, Turkish sword techniques, Shamadan fire dance and the Dance of the seven Veils, if you're so inclined.
Ancient Egyptians used to wrap oils and linens around their bodies to encourage skin rejuvenation. In this contemporary version, you undergo gentle exfoliation, and then nourishing wraps infused by natural ingredients soothe and nourish your skin. You might feel like a mummy, but you'll look a lot better afterwards. Try the hour-long treatment at the lush Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo.
Sea Salt Glow
What other spa treatment should you go for on the Red Sea coast but the sea salt glow? You're bound to emerge radiant after being gently exfoliated with sea salts and oils, before getting your minerals suitably balanced via a full-body mud wrap. This invigorating treatment is available at the OIympus Spa at the Hyatt Regency, Taba.
Slew off the effects of the day's sightseeing with a deep, refreshing cleanse at a North African hammam. An idea imported from Morocco, the hammam involves going from a hot steamy environment to cooler rooms. A massage and scrub with a soapy loofah follows, which refreshes your skin and leaves you tingling - the best place to try this is Cairo's La Rose spa.
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