Beauty for the Big Day

Courtesy of Well Hall

Finding peace and beauty at Moscow salons that cater to stressed out brides-to-be.

Getting married should be one of the happiest days in a woman's life. But the reality is that it can often prove one of the most stressful, the culmination of months of logistical planning. For many women it's a juggling act of keeping on top of the endless to-do lists concerning flowers, invitations, cakes and the dress, alongside the pressures of a demanding job. Keeping all those balls in the air is enough to make even the most levelheaded of brides-to-be a tad frazzled.

So it's important that we busy women take some time out to concentrate on number one. Your wedding is the one day of your adult life when you can justifiably expect to feel and look like a princess. And knowing that you'll be under the constant gaze of not only your friends and family, but also the photographers' lens means that you need to know you're looking your best. Which means one final checklist: hair, makeup, manicure, pedicure, stress-relieving massage? Check!

Luckily, these days the Russian capital caters to every whim, language and budget. As a long-serving Moscow expat, I've seen the city's landscape change dramatically over the years and nowhere more so than in its burgeoning service industry. From Thai massages to Brazilians, it's all here if you want it. So let's all say "I do" to looking fabulous on the big day.

The wonderfully luxurious ESPA Spa inside the Ritz-Carlton Hotel is the ideal sanctuary from which to escape any pre-wedding jitters. With impeccable English, its helpful staff explain that the spa boasts a subtly lit heated pool, steam room and sauna. Rose petals are strewn across the many treatment areas, offering everything from facials to massages to invigorating salt scrubs. A quick trot along the marble hall takes you to the hair and beauty salon, where manicures and pedicures are also on offer. For the bride wanting to tone as well as spruce up, there's a gym complete with pilates and yoga studio. The spa can also accomodate spontaneous visits, as the expansive dressing rooms come ready equipped with dressing gown, towel and slippers, so there's no need to take anything other than your swimming costume. This is the perfect spot for women looking to really spoil themselves and aren't afraid to pay for it.

3 Ulitsa Tverskaya. 225-8888,

A slightly less sumptuous, but equally enjoyable, pre-nuptial experience can be had at the Expat Salon by Patriarchs' Ponds. All practitioners speak English and the smaller, open plan nature of the salon creates a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. It's the ideal place to enjoy a treatment while gossiping with your mother or bridesmaid. Expat does not include a spa, but does offer a full range of beauty treatments, including even Botox, glycolic peels and biolifting. They even promise to noticeably reduce cellulite over the course of a mere five sessions on their wondrous "endermologic lipomassage" machine. Whether or not you believe that, what you can expect to find at Expat is quality service at not unreasonable prices.

3 Maly Patriarshy Pereulok, 3. 650-3749,

For brides on a slightly tighter budget, the Spa Home Club is a fresh and friendly new arrival on the beauty scene. There's the traditional raft of treatments on offer and it even houses a mini sauna. Staff are very accommodating and most speak English, but the real unique selling point of this particular salon is its mobile service. The beauty therapists at SHC can come to you and work their magic in the comfort of your own home, a rare find in Moscow and perfect for the busy bride.

Spa Home Club: 3/5 Kazarmenny Pereulok, 917-8294. SHC Mobile Beauty: 624-8783,

Spa treatments + massage, on site or with a home visit, are a must before your wedding.

Those looking for a slightly more exotic pre-wedding beauty overhaul should look no further than the capital's many Thai 7 Kracok salons. Most of the staff are from Bali and Thailand but are fluent in Russian, and some also speak English. Here the massages are billed as being "traditionally Thai" and are widely considered to be the best in Moscow. The quirky decor and soft strains of Asian music wafting around the salon make this a wonderful option for any bride wanting a few hours of intensive rest and relaxation.

Multiple locations, 925-5177,

Next on the list is the rustic French charm of the city's Petit Spa l'Occitane. You will be treated well at whichever of its numerous sites you choose. Here a bride-to-be can purchase any product from French natural brand L'Occitane, while choosing between a wide variety of treatments including manicures, facials and massages. Hair treatments are not on the menu, since here the emphasis is put on nourishing and buffing your pre-wedding body into perfection. The design and layout of all the l'Occitane spas are as tasteful and Gallic as one would hope, if you close your eyes you can almost smell the fresh country air. The only potential drawback here could be the lack of English among the staff.

Multiple locations,, 9,2,1931,33385.htm

The last suggestion for anyone in the latter stages of wedding planning is Novinsky Passage's Well Hall. This is a one-of-a-kind hidden gem of a salon. Here the full works are on offer — cosmetic and beauty treatments, hair styling and coloring, as well as the more extreme options of Botox and fillers. The spa areas feature a range of differently themed rooms; there's the rural Russian-style banya complete with straw and faux stable, and the luxuriously curtained boudoir entirely devoted to Thai massages. No one speaks English but there is a translated price list on display.

Novinsky Passage, 31 Novinsky Bulvar. 926-1656 / 926-1655,

Of course, these are just a few of the growing number of health and beauty options sprinkled across the city. All brides are different and what is most important is finding the place that is right for you in order to ensure that you are feeling picture perfect for your moment in the spotlight. From five-star hotels to tucked away boutique spas, Moscow has it all.

Moscow Guide Summer 2011
Moscow Guide Summer 2011
The Moscow Summer Guide is dedicated to the wedding theme, because traditionally summer in Moscow is a time of weddings. The journal tells about the best hotels that cater to newly-weds, and about the locations that young couples traditionally visit on their wedding days. The publication gives advice on choosing a wedding dress and offers an overview of spas that young couples must certainly visit on the eve of the big ceremony. The publication informs the reader about the best cultural events in Moscow this summer.
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