La Perla in San Sebastian: An “interesting” spa experience

Checking into La Perla in San Sebastian definitely felt like the perfect treat during our minimoon in Spain. But, as is often the case with me, things didn’t go exactly to plan!

I don’t know what it is about spas, but while everyone else is wafting around looking super glamourous in their luxurious white gowns and a face full of makeup (how do they do that by the way?) I always manage to make a complete fool of myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love spas. A place where I get to lounge around all day, waited on hand and foot and someone will pummel all of the tension out of my back for hours without complaining that their hands are tired (I’m looking at you Mr A!) – what’s not to like? But despite all of that, I often manage to leave feeling slightly embarrassed.

Maybe it’s because I quite often visit them when I’m travelling, so the language barrier can get in the way. But my list of spa horror stories is so long, it’s a wonder I still go!

There’s the time I had to get naked in a Japanese onsen and every single woman there turned and laughed in my face when they saw how white I was. The least elegant (and yet somehow still one of the best ever) ayurvedic massages I had in India where I slipped and slid around so much in all of the oil they were pouring over me that I one point I thought I might end up on the floor. And the time Mr A and I had a couples massage together in South Africa and the therapist called me Mrs A the whole way through the process despite the fact he hadn’t even proposed to me yet

La Perla in San Sebastian

And my visit to La Perla in San Sebastian was no exception. Having done a day of trekking along La Camino de Santiago on our Urban Adventure tour, we decided it would be nice to go to the spa as a minimoon treat.

La Perla was built in 1912 on La Concha beach and it uses sea water to offer relaxing programmes.

La Perla in San Sebastian looks onto the beach

Spa views don’t get much better than this

As I’d opted to have a treatment Mr A and I were directed to separate changing rooms and met up again in the pool area.

One of the members of staff explained the way we were supposed to move around the different pools and we headed to the first one, which shot powerful jets of water out at different heights to focus on different areas of the body – neck and shoulders, lower back and knees – all of the areas which generally need relaxing.

There’s a 20 minute time recommendation on the pool, which I think they must have to do otherwise you would stay in there all day as it’s so nice.

From there we went to the next pool where we sat on chairs carved into the side where bubbles again pummelled our backs and legs.

There were also ‘beds’ you could lie on, but I found I just kept falling off due to the pressure of the water shots!

Then it was time for a more relaxing Jacuzzi, overlooking the sea – you really couldn’t ask for a better view.

The jacuzzi at La Perla in San Sebastian

You can’t beat a panoramic jacuzzi (Copyright: San Sebastian Tourism)

Next we headed downstairs to an underground area which was filled with different pools and rooms – including an ice cold plunge pool, a sauna and steam room and even an underwater gym.

My particular favourite was a corridor which you walked down, where different showers sprayed you with hot and cold water.

Having a treatment at La Perla

After a couple of hours of relaxing I left Mr A and went to have my treatment in the spa area downstairs. After the trauma of trying to figure out which way the paper knickers they’d given me should go (why are they always so ridiculously small??) I followed the therapist to the treatment room.

It was only as I was lying down on the bed that I realised that she didn’t speak much English and as my Spanish doesn’t really stretch to spa-talk, it was going to be an interesting experience.

Thanks to a complicated discussion in Spanglish with the ladies on reception I knew that I had opted for something involving seaweed and mud – I just wasn’t entirely sure what it was. 

I quickly found out though as the therapist began slapping hot mud all over my back, in the manner of someone slapping wallpaper paste onto paper.

Just as I was getting used to the heat, she began to smear my legs in a cold seaweed paste. Then it was time to turn over and repeat the process. It was definitely not the most attractive I have ever felt!

After being covered in various temperatures of goo I was wrapped in a sheet of plastic, followed by towels and left in a room for 20 minutes – looking at soft colour-changing lights on the ceiling and listening to plinky-plonky music.

It was all very relaxing and I was just starting to doze when the therapist returned and proceeded to unwrap me like a sticky, slightly disgusting Christmas present.

I then had to hobble over to the shower, trying not to touch anything on the way, for fear of leaving a muddy trail in my wake. Oh the glamour.

So, not the most relaxing experience ever but, on the plus side, my skin did feel amazing afterwards. Although maybe next time I’ll just stick to the massage!

Feeling pretty relaxed

You can buy tickets to La Perla in San Sebastian on its English website here.

What’s your experience with spas? Have you had any funny moments at one? I’d love to hear that it’s not just me!

If you want to know more about San Sebastian check out the awesome tour we did with Urban Adventures and find out more about San Sebastian’s cool gastronomic societies.