Anyone who has acquainted themselves with my militant skincare regime will tell you I'm all for a bit of pampering, but the idea of spending a whole weekend wandering delicately through a super serene spa has always left me a little cold.
I can't sit still for very long without overwhelming boredom soaking through my whole body, and itching for the need to do something more active. I was actually once told off by a masseuse for looking at my phone when I found a head neck and shoulders massage particularly dreary.
This brings me on my quest to find a happy middle ground, and so to the Macdonald Manchester Hotel & Spa.
The vibrant city in the North West just so happens to be my old stomping ground as a student, and the same buzz still pulses through the air nearly three years later.
The hotel is just a short hop, skip and jump from Manchester’s Piccadilly train station. The main road being so close may be off-putting, but we all know better than to judge a book by its cover.
Inside, I found a sleek, modern building and from my Panoramic suite, the views over the up-and-coming city's skyline were sublime.
Having spent two hours slumped on a train from London, I was keen to stretch my legs and headed straight for the gym to expunge my energy.
Small, but perfectly formed, the compact gym is equipped with treadmills, exercise bikes, cross trainers, free weights, and some a few resistance machines fitted with all the mod cons to help ensure you get the right speed and range of motion - fancy.
Still with some time to kill before dinner, we strolled into the cobbled city centre and I found the streets just as bustling as when I had left them. An hour-or-so's shopping was plenty to work up an appetite and so we headed back to the hotel’s restaurant, the Scottish Steakhouse.
I was pleasantly surprised that a restaurant named after its high quality steaks - and let me assure you, they are high quality – had such an array of vegetarian options.
In fact, the restaurant showcases the very best in 21-day aged cuts of beef and an array of flavoursome dishes prepared using only the freshest ingredients by extremely talented chefs.
After gorging ourselves on what I can only assume to be Manchester's finest steak with peppercorn sauce, veggie burger, onion rings, and - the pièce de résistance - New York cheesecake, we concluded it would be rude not to enjoy a cocktail or two in town.
Hopping in a cab, we headed to The Alchemist in Spinningfields. Busy and buzzing, here you can expect to see all manner of creative concoctions being made in a fashion reminiscent of your failed GCSE science experiment - some of the cocktails are even made using Bunsen burners.
Two of these were enough and so it was back to the hotel to get some sleep.
Breakfast the next day sadly was lacking in choice for those who prefer it continental style, though this was not enough to dampen my mood after a restful night's sleep in a huge comfy bed.
Relaxing in the spa
After such a busy first day, I was excited to chill out in the spa. There's no pool, but I made full use of the Thermal Suite which comprises of a Rock Sauna, Infra-Red Sauna, Steam room, Sensation shower, Thermal loungers and an Ice Igloo.
I can't say I'm convinced the Infra-Red sauna lived up to its potential as I saw no obvious evidence of infra-red light, though it was palpably hotter than the other sauna. The steam room, however, was infused with eucalyptus and was heavenly on the senses.
Feeling sufficiently lithe, it was time for treatments and I opted for the Face and Body Sensation, combining a hot stone massage with a facial tailored to your skin's needs.
The 55-minute duration of the treatment flew by as I left my stress behind, floating off on a cloud of bliss. Both my mind and body were grateful.
Coffee and cats
Now feeling my most zen, it was time to check out. I couldn't leave Manchester though, without seeing one of its newest additions for myself - the Cat Cafe.
Unlike many high street coffee shops, here you’re billed for time - £1 every five minutes – as well as anything you have to eat. Drinks, however, are free. And, of course, there are plenty of sofas and comfy seats to lounge on while relaxing in the company of its resident rescue cats.
There's no fuss, no pretentiousness, just a cool, chilled out spot. Plus I think Darcey the cat might be my new best friend.
Heading back to the train station, the reality of the busy week ahead starts to sink in, but still, I'm glad to have had a weekend that has been both entertaining and leisurely.