Raffles Dubai 'Egyptian Gold' facial might be the world's most decadent spa treatment

The emirate's streets aren't paved with gold quite yet, but in Dubai a beauty treatment in which the client's face is covered with the precious metal makes perfect sense.

This is how I found myself with four sheets of 24-carat gold carefully placed over my face, in the Raffles Dubai hotel spa. The leaves blew against my nostrils as I breathed. For 10 minutes, I lay ice-maiden still, afraid to move lest my newly acquired Bond girl sheen crack off in a rather expensive mess.

The "Egyptian Gold" facial started like any other treatment. Cleanse, tone, exfoliate. Then it turned a corner: a serum was rubbed over my skin to make the gold leaf stick, using ions and "ultrasonic nano mist". The gold itself was then applied: cue time to lie mummy-still. Finally, despite my fears about leaving sad glittery remnants, my gold mask was massaged away into nothingness.

"One Saudi Arabian woman wants the facial two or three times a month," my spa therapist explained. Only a few days previously, a male client from the same country had requested the treatment as part of his pre-wedding adornments. "He wanted to glow", she said. Expats, on the other hand, like it for the novelty factor.

Some historians say that Cleopatra slept in a mask of gold every night, and the metal is supposedly apt for treating allergies and blemishes, and tightening wrinkles.

From Egypt, then, to Dubai: the treatment plays to every stereotype about the emirate, which has earned itself a reputation for overblown displays of wealth. There is the gold souk, where the previous afternoon I had peered at coils of luminescent metal bought by women to add glimmers to their wrists and fingers. There is the Burj Al Arab hotel, which offers guests use of a 24-carat-gold-plated iPad. Then there are the gold vending machines, for those vital moments when you're running short.

The treatment didn't quite make an Egyptian queen of me; although it did feel novel, I can think of better ways to spend 1845 dirham ($650), unless someone suddenly hands me access to a sheika's bottomless bank account.

But my skin did feel smoother. If you wish to try anything and everything, I'm sure putting gold on the skin is one way of hoping to combat wrinkles. When in Dubai, it's the obvious solution.

The Telegraph, London