Thursday, 9 August 2012

Review: Thai Combination Massage at Sabai Leela

The other day, I swung by Sabai Leela, a Thai spa situated between Earl's Court and West Brompton, which also happens to be rather close to where I work.  The deceptively large spa offers a range of facials, acupuncture, waxing, manicures, pedicures, and a very comprehensive list of Thai style massages.  I chose to try out a Thai combination massage, which includes both intense acupressure, gentle stretches, and a more traditional relaxing massage to round it off.

The treatment began in traditional spa style, with me dumping my work bags and clothes into a locker, and donning a cream coloured waffle robe before pottering down to one of the underground treatment rooms.  Now is not the time to bemoan the prodigious size of my rear end, which made the waffle robe a little bit too form fitting, but it is probably the time to put down the Lindor.

Once settled in the treatment room, I lay face down on the massage table, expecting a standard massage administered with strong hands.  Gentle tinkling music played softly in the background.  Through the face-hole in the table, I could see an attractive bowl of flowers and pebbles instead of a utilitarian floor (nice touch, that).  And as soon as the massage began, I realised that the Thai style of massage was entirely different to anything I'd ever experienced before.

Instead of using fingertips to dig into tense muscles, the therapist climbed up onto the massage table with me and used her elbows, fingers, and other pointy bits to thoroughly pummel my tense muscles into submission.  She arranged my arms and legs into interesting contortions, and using her own bodyweight, gently led me through stretches as well as using direct pressure.

It was not relaxing.  It was not even really enjoyable.

And yet, it was incredibly, amazingly effective.  My shoulder muscles, which are almost always bunched up, relaxed to the point where I felt surprisingly flexible and loosened up, almost as if I'd done a bit of pilates.  After the acupressure part of the massage, I was expecting a softer, more gentle relaxing massage, but I soon found that whilst it wasn't as intense as the acupressure, it certainly wasn't as gentle as I thought it would be - the therapist continued to knead my muscles with a fair bit of pressure and strength.

Afterwards, I felt the most relaxed and bendy that I'd felt in a long, long time.  All the stress and all the knots had quite literally been pummelled out of my body, and whilst it wasn't a treatment I enjoyed - probably more a treatment I endured - the end effect was the most significant I've ever experienced from a massage.

If you like your massages to be akin to some gentle stroking which leads to a short nap, you won't like the Thai combination massage at Sabai Leela.  If you like your massages to leave you feeling relaxed, de-stressed, flexible and refreshed, then you absolutely will.  I'll definitely be going back.

Thai Combination Massage starts at £55 for an hour, going up to £105 for a two hour pummel-a-thon.  You can find out more about the massages on offer via the Sabai Leela website.

Disclosure: Treatment received free of charge for review purposes

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