My last Thai massage involved lying on a beautiful beach in the country itself, being elbowed and walked on and having my limbs manipulated in ways not entirely welcome. A Thai herbal healer at the exquisite Thai Square Spa sounded like the perfect antidote to my previous experience.
Following the success of the Covent Garden branch, the day spa opened in January aiming to cater for City workers in need of rejuvenation.
In contrast to the non-descript London street where it is located, you are met by beaming staff, tinkly relaxing music and swathes of muted coppers and browns.
I enjoyed a few moments of calm downstairs before my treatment began. To start, my feet were cleaned in a bowl of petals while I sipped Thai tea and admired the stunning room. Draped strands of material adorned the ceiling, an obligatory Buddha looked on and a partly mirrored wall enhanced the simple clean design.
Having my weary London feet relaxed was a pleasant introduction but nothing compared to the main event. If you’re not familiar with Thai massage, it’s less, er, modest than an English one. You change into skimpy disposable underwear and your buttocks get as much attention as your back.
Even if you choose a treatment which doesn’t involve de-robing, it’s worth a look in the bathroom at the sparkly red tiles, a vibrant splash among the dim lighting elsewhere.
The therapist, Joy, alternated between vigorous strokes and applying a heated muslin parcel (a poultice) of aromatic herbs and spices in a kneading action. Use of the poultice dates back to the 14th century and the heat and herbs are absorbed by the body to reduce aches and pains and the skin is hydrated and regenerated.
As my flesh yielded under the pressure and I detected a hint of basil, I felt a little like a slab of meat being pummelled and seasoned. But in a good way. This is a massage with conviction. At one point, Joy sprung up on the bed and I braced myself for a knee or elbow but she was just positioning herself to maximise the pressure. The treatment ended with a little assisted stretch and breathing exercise leaving me feeling energised and elongated. My knots were thoroughly detangled and skin fragrant and smooth.
My one-hour session cost £82 but if you want to treat yourself further, the spa offers a range of half day, full day and couple packages from £177 to £500. The spring offers are also worth a look with two hours of bliss up for grabs for £99.
Thai Square Spa City
City of London
Tel: 020 7265 4920