Destination Zen: Top 3 spas worth flying for
Just like lasagne doesn’t taste the same outside of Italy and a YouTube clip is nothing like front row seats at the ballet, a spa treatment is so much better in situ. So board the next flight to Destination Zen and immerse yourself in the top 3 spas worth flying for.
Oasis Spa, Bangkok
Skip the curbside massages on Khao San Road and enter the tranquil haven that is Oasis Spa in Bangkok’s exclusive Sukhumvit district. Shunning the tired hotel spa format, Oasis incorporates private treatment villas dotted around a lush garden where lily pads and water features meet Thai architecture and natural wooden interiors.
After a cup of ginger and pandanus tea, you cross the little wooden bridge and enter your villa. Indulge in the freedom of taking an outdoor shower and settle onto the bed, face positioned above a bowl of lemongrass and kefir lime leaves which cloaks the senses with its soothing scent. The signature massage, the King of Oasis, lasts 2 hours and incorporates both Thai and Aromatherapy massage techniques which will leave you feeling royally relaxed.
The masseuses are gentle by name and by manner; Iris and Earth sway from side to side in synchronised choreography whilst inching up the body, pressing their thumbs and elbows into every stubborn muscle. You can specify how strong you want to treatment to be, which is handy if you’re still recovering from a previous treatment (Thai massages are notoriously hard). Even the obligatory panpipes aren’t too invasive.
A 2 hour King of Oasis signature massage costs Baht 3,900.
Royal Mansour, Marrakech
For Moroccans a visit to the hammam is a weekly requirement, so do as the locals do and cleanse your skin of all those impurities and pent-up stress. In under 4 hours by plane from London you could be in the city that’s famous for its spas and beauty rituals. Traditionally, a black soap made with eucalyptus is rubbed onto the body, rinsed off with buckets of water and then scrubbed with a kessa glove. While most Moroccans carry out the ritual themselves in public baths, several hotels and spas offer serviced treatments in beautiful private settings.
One of Marrakech’s most spectacular locations for a hammam experience is undoubtedly the Royal Mansour spa, commissioned by the current monarch King Mohammed VI of Morocco. If it’s fit for a king, then it’s certain to be an unforgettable experience. Indeed, the spa itself is a stunning composition of form and fancy; the vivid ochre of its exterior contrasts with the spectacularly bright entrance hall. A luminous white structure composed of recurring floral motifs forms individual sitting areas around a central fountain, evoking an overall picture of tranquility and relaxation.
The hammam treatment itself is less aggressive and invasive than others in, for example, Turkey. The staff take a gentle approach, instructing you to lie down on a heated marble slab while they carry out the cleansing ritual, softly advising you when you need to turn. After around 30 minutes of warmth it’s time to jump in the cold pool, but knowing that a pot of fresh mint tea is being brewed for you upstairs makes it bearable. The treatment ends in the relaxation room, filled with big soft beds to lie on until you regain sufficient energy to return downstairs.
A 60 minute hammam treatment costs MAD 1,400.
QC Terme, Milan
The fashion and design capital in Northern Italy is home to a stylish crowd that knows how to enjoy life but most importantly, when to call it quits. After days of catwalks, shows and cocktail parties they head to the QC Terme to put their feet up and return to form after an exhausting week. Housed in a former tram depot in trendy Porta Romana, the spa consists of an extensive network of underground saunas, steam rooms and a water circuit as well as a variety of relaxation and treatment rooms. A garden area closed off from the main road by the building’s original walls houses a few outdoor jacuzzis while the deckchairs provide perfect sun spots. A relic of its past, a tram carriage sits in the corner, but enter it and you’ll be hit by 80° heat – it’s now a sauna.
A buffet of fresh fruit, vegetables and tea runs all day, but stay until 7pm to take advantage of the complimentary aperitivo; a quirky take on the Milanese tradition of early evening drinks and light snacks in an unusual location. Sip a chilled glass of prosecco while watching fellow spa guests, still in their bath robes, fighting over the last piece of prosciutto.
A day pass to the spa costs € 50.