WHAT I TRIED The Lounge in Abu Dhabi, reportedly the capital's only dedicated spa for men and a good suggestion for a Father's Day treat. It offers everything from basic grooming to Turkish and Moroccan baths, body bronzing (also known as the man tan), manicures/pedicures, henna tattoos, facials, laser hair removal and anything else positively metrosexual. You can pay more to be sheared in a private room and even more for the Royal Room - which is a barber station, bath and spa rolled into in one. The Lounge also provides in-home and in-office service. Really, it has everything the pampered man needs, except a list of excuses to inform more rugged friends about why a diamond-scrub facial was necessary. For my visit, I got a shave and a massage, which will be hereafter referred to as a "manssage".
WHAT I WANTED I actually only wanted a shave, but The Lounge's manager also arranged for the manssage. From the shave, which costs Dh50, I wanted service a few steps above the Dh10 treatments available at various saloons across the city. From the manssage, which cost Dh80 for a half-hour, I wanted, well, I'm not sure - I don't really like massages. I've only had one before: at the Wat Pho Buddhist temple in Bangkok, where Thai massage was invented. That was a good experience, but more painful than relaxing. So I decided with this one that I wanted to feel relaxed, which was appropriate because I was booked for The Lounge's Relaxing Massage.
WHAT HAPPENED I can't complain about the shave. Mohamed, the barber, took his time and switched to a new razor blade halfway through. Most saloons just use one for the whole face. He used something called Astro shaving gel, then topped it with standard Gillette foam. I was hoping for a heated lather, but when a man's holding a razor to your throat, you keep quiet. After the razor, he put baby powder on my face and used an electric razor to get the remaining hairs.
As it was 10.40 on a weekday morning, I wasn't really expecting a massage and wasn't really in the mindset for a rubdown. My masseur was a mansseur (the only one at The Lounge, for the record), who rubbed along to a soundtrack of soft-rock hits played on a flute. The manssage - full body - was firm and thorough without being painful and used just enough oil to avoid friction, meaning I could dress straight away and head into the office.
THE VERDICT While the electric razor took away from the romance of the old-fashioned single-blade shave, it's by far the smoothest one I've ever had. As for the massage, I didn't feel particularly tense going in to it, and I felt pretty much the same leaving. I fell asleep on at one point, though, so I must have been relaxed. I will definitely go back for a shave and maybe to check out the baths. Next up though, on the insistence of my colleagues, is the man tan. John Mather
The Lounge, near the intersection of Khaleej al Arabi and Falah in Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi. Call 02 667 7377 or see @email:www.thelounge.ae