It is no secret that life in London is extremely hectic and fast-paced. As glamorous and exciting as attending charity galas and movie premieres, partying the nights away in clubs and rubbing shoulders with celebrities on the street is, it is not unusual to feel completely worn out at the end of the week, especially when you’re also juggling motherhood and a full-time career into the mix. It is on those nights when I realise that every muscle in my body is starting to ache that I realise I have to slow down and book a much-needed me-time slot into my calendar.
One of my favourite ways to relax, recharge my batteries and de-stress my body is a Thai massage. More than just a massage, a Thai massage is an ancient healing system that combines the healing power of acupressure, the therapeutic compression of muscle and mobilisation of joints, and assisted yoga postures. During a session, the masseuses never rub on tired, sore muscles, preferring instead to compress, pull and stretch every part of the body into a variety of yoga position, paying particular attention to pressure points, where stress and ache accumulate.
A regular session involves plenty of stretching, bending and slapping. The masseuse uses her own body weight to apply more or less pressure in order to release stress and tension within the muscles. Working around the joints and muscles, she proceeds to hold your arms, bend your knees, pull your fingers and toes and, in some cases, even climb on top of you and hold your hands behind your head to fully stretch your spine. This type of movements warm up the bodies, ensuring the customer receives the maximum benefits from the stretching, and improve blood flow all over the body.
A Thai massage can be a very intense experience: it is uncommon to hear parts of the body you didn’t even know you had emit noises, such as popping and cracking. If you’ve never had a Thai massage before, the first experience may be a bit unnerving, but the results are well worth it – you’ll leave the session feeling completely reinvigorated.
Another peculiarity of a Thai massage doesn’t use oils. This is because a Thai massage isn’t about soothing aromatherapy and the rubbing of muscles. The slickness of the oil, so useful when hands must glide freely on the body during a traditional Western massage, would only get in the way of the stretching and pulling required in a Thai massage, preventing the masseuse from holding the client in the yoga poses for the amount of time necessary to loosen the sore muscle.
Not only does a professional Thai massage relieves aching muscles and relaxes the mind, but it also boosts a person’s mood, increases circulation and provides a general sense of well-being that can last for hours. It is truly one of the best relaxing treatments for a busy, modern woman because it melts away all stresses and worries and makes you feel completely brand new, ready to tackle another day with plenty of energy and grace.
The best place for a Thai massage in London is, without the shadow of a doubt, Urban Retreat, the luxury spa located on the fifth floor at Harrods, in the bustling Knightsbridge area. Favoured by a busy and wealthy clientele, Urban Retreat is the ultimate beauty destination in London. The vibrant atmosphere, bulb-lit mirrors and the flowing champagne glasses make the perfect backdrop for a pampering afternoon. But what makes Urban Retreat stand out is the efficiency with which the staff performs the treatments: their no-nonsense approach and on-the-go readiness ensure I’m well looked after from the moment I set foot in the spa till the moment I am ready to leave again.
I am not exaggerated when I say that, after a Thai massage, I feel like a completely new person. Knowing my hectic schedule, I have a feeling I’ll have to book another session soon!