Real Lives: Did I say we were going out for dinner?

Don't fancy braving the cold? You don't have to. A new industry is devoted to meeting your every desire - on the settee. EMMA COOK reports

Luci Morgan wouldn't dreaming of relaxing anywhere else. Not for her the mass appeal of a Clarins beauty centre - too far away. Luci stays at home and the experts come to her. As well as a personal trainer, she's now visited by a masseur once a month and, if she's feeling flush, a beauty therapist for a manicure and facial.

Our own homes can now make Holmes Place look like Somerfield on the scale of luxurious pampering. Can't be bothered to drag yourself from the sofa? One of London's leading masseurs, Nari Sadhuram, based in Maida Vale, will let you sleep on it with his full body massage and Indian head massage. Naturally you pay a little more - Nari charges pounds 110 an hour. "I'm travelling to the client because his time is worth a lot of money. It's not my time they're paying for - it's their own." Not exactly logical perhaps, but who cares when you can languish in front of the TV while Nari drains your lymph?

Caroline Aston, based in Notting Hill, will charge pounds 60 for an aromatherapy session, pounds 50 for a Swedish massage and pounds 40 for a facial. In the past three years her "home delivery" service has flourished. "After a massage, the last thing you want to do is get in a taxi," she points out. You can even hold your own aromatherapy parties. Knots Elementals will visit your home and show you how to create shampoos and conditioners from various unguents and oils.

The availability of these services reflects our growing desire to take serious self-indulgence behind closed doors. This appetite for couture cocooning makes holing up with a takeaway, 10 Silk Cut and a bottle of wine look positively primitive. And you can forget pyjamas and woolly socks: if you're being visited by a mobile therapist, you need the wardrobe to match.

Toast, the Welsh mail-order company, has around 45,000 regular customers buying into its luxurious lounger range: embroidered slippers, velvet drawstring trousers and cashmere bedsocks. "We're interested in the whole idea of closing the door and pulling on some cashmere," says Jamie Seaton, co-owner and designer of Toast. "It's a sensual thing and it's also nice to draw the line between the work day and the evening." The internet has enabled us to retreat into another world from the comfort of our desktop, and it seems fashion and beauty have followed suit.

According to Chris Bates, associate director with youth marketing agency Informer Interactive, this phenomenon is another symptom of an increasingly individualised society. "We want instant gratification and we want it on our terms, on our patch," he says. He cites an upmarket takeaway in London's Battersea that offers every type of food, from Chinese to Indian, Malaysian to French and Italian. "It's a home service culture and it's only just started. I see a time when you can phone one number for everything: food takeaways, dry-cleaning and massage."

Tann-Rokka, another mail-order company and shop in Camden, London, can't keep up with the demand for fluffy beanbags and silk pyjamas. "There's definitely a market here," says owner, Lisa Lee. "People don't want to answer the door in scruffy old pyjamas. They want to relax and look good."

Meanwhile, Ilse Crawford, vice president for Donna Karan's homes collection, has published a homage to this sybaritic nesting tendency, The Sensual Home. She points out in the book that where once the kitchen and the sitting room were the home's focal points, the bathroom and the bedroom now take centre stage.

Charlotte-Anne Fidler, beauty and style director of Elle, agrees that the market for home comforts reflects our desire for a tailor-made service. "Beauty is becoming more personalised," she explains. "If you go to somewhere like Clarins you're having what everybody is having. These days we want our therapies to be designed just for us - we want couture massages for our individual needs. It's also about wanting a unique service where you're on a limited client list and very few people have the number of the person who's treating you."

Prestige is certainly a key factor. Nari has travelled to Paris and Bombay to see clients in their homes. "I visited a famous Bollywood actress in Bombay recently and it was very much about her being able to say that she had her own masseur in London who was visiting," he says.

It's great to be able to boast to your friends about a one-to-one with the best masseur in town, but there are potential downsides. As I sat in my living room and waited for Nari to give me a taste of home indulgence, I realised I wasn't thrilled at the prospect of stripping off in my home for a complete stranger. He's well aware of potential anxieties - "I always give people the choice of what they want to wear and try to put them at their ease," he told me as he unfolded what looked like a hospital bed. I lay and stared at the ceiling, cursing the cobwebs and the cracked plaster I'd never noticed, while Nari got to work with a dry skin brush. He started the deep massage, climbed over me to knead my back, while I felt a little disoriented, naked on my stomach, staring at the fridge and last night's washing up. It didn't help that I was freezing - my central heating clicked off half way through. Still, by the time he left, it was all I could do to stagger to my bedroom and collapse.

Which is, presumably, the appeal. Cath Kidston, a furnishings designer, enjoys regular visits from a mobile masseur. "It's nice to be at home and potter around in a stupor after the massage," she says. "Being at home makes it more relaxing." Luci Morgan says the same of her personal trainer. "You can have a workout, have a bath and do the washing up - all in the space of an hour. It's so much more enjoyable."

Until you have to get your chequebook out. Luci pays pounds 100 a week for two sessions. Think how many pizza deliveries you could get for that. I know which I'd prefer.

PERSONAL SERVICES - PUT YOUR FEET UP

Massage

5 Nari Sadhuram offers full-body massage in your home from pounds 110 (tel: 0831 818846).

5 The Shiatsu Society will put you in touch with practitioners who do home visits (tel: 01733 758341).

Aromatherapy

5 Knots Elementals offers home tuition sessions in aromatherapy for a bargain pounds 7 per person. (tel: 0181 941 0759).

Clothes and comforts

5 Tann-Rokka, shop (in Camden, north London) and mail-order company, is dedicated to luxury lounging (tel: 0171 722 3999).

5 Toast, mail-order company, specialises in sensual home comforts (tel: 01558 668800).

Fitness trainers

5 The Association of Personal Trainers can provide a nationwide list of trainers prepared to come to your home (tel: 0171 836 1102).

5 If you want to brag about who you share your trainer with and are prepared to join a waiting list of the well-heeled and famous, Matt Roberts, based in Mayfair, London, will visit your home for pounds 55 per hour (tel: 0171 491 4232). Or try Anastasia, who counts Ben de Lisi among her clients and charges around pounds 40 per hour (tel: 0958 520082).

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Situated in the heart of Bradfo...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior IT Support / Projects Engineer

    £26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Bench Joiner & Wood Machinist

    £20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This busy local Joinery company...

    Recruitment Genius: Financial Adviser

    £20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you recently QCA Level 4 qu...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence