We discussed the worst one already. Certainly the shitty ones are more entertaining and worthy of anecdotal archiving, but they also suck, and are a waste of time and coin, and that's no fun.
I usually get massages with an incredibly specific issue, and a request for the firmest, most sports massagey therapist available. My issues is generally this, and please do sing if you know the words:
- Sore neck
- Sore shoulders
- Sore back
- Sore bit between elbow and hand
- And all usually on one side, my 'mouse' side.
It's violently obvious this is from writing on a laptop in a non-ergomonic set-up for 10 hours a day. I have made changes though: in Sydney, my primary residence, I now have an incredible sit and stand desk, which I LOVE and cannot recommend highly enough, and a proper, back-supporting chair (I bought both from here). In Melbourne and when I travel it's generally the kitchen table, a chair with cushions for support/height and a stack of magazines to get the screen to eye level. Here is my current set up, on which I type this very post. Atrocious.
"... You write your BOOKS with that set up?"
Anyway. So I get a lot of massages. Sometimes once a week when I am on deadline or working a lot. For my body, but also my mind. A bit of release. Usually I just head to one of the Chinese massage joints in Kings Cross, or Thai ones on Bondi Road, but if I manage to think ahead and make an appointment I have a Shiatsu/sports therapist friend of mine come to my home, or use the Sydney Mobile Therapies guys in Sydney ($80 and they come to you - I give a lot of my girlfriends this as a gift).
For a massage that is great and also fancy and relaxing and stuff, I love Aurora Spa (in The Prince Hotel in Melbourne). I used to head to The Four Seasons in Sydney, but I hear they've changed everything now, so I am looking to try The Spa at The Darling, which I hear is terrific.
It all comes down to the therapist though, doesn't it. When you find a good one, you'll bloody follow them anywhere. Being a fussy, bossy client (firmer there please, can you just do my upper body, I can't lay on my back, I don't want the knee bolster please, no oil in the hair please, less Enya thanks etc) I will always fall hard for someone who just 'gets it.' Just take my money already.
Just on New York, that's where I had the best massage of my life, back in 2011. It was booked on a recommendation from a lovely chap who happens to be high up at Mr and Mrs Smith, the luxury travel website, which made me feel certain it would be a Golden Recommendation, as opposed to the more common Silver Recommendation, which comes from well meaning but perhaps not as well researched folk.
But actually it was more Platinum.
It was at the beautiful Greenwich Hotel in TriBeCa, (so what if Eva Mendes was in the ladies changerooms with me and the Olsens were being papped out the front, it's no big deal) in their spa, called Shibui. It is a very beautiful little spa, constructed with Japanese timber brought in to the US specially (Robert De Niro owns the hotel, so I'm guessing money wasn't too much of an issue) and there is a rad gift shop at reception featuring weird shit that you tend to buy when you're all stoned and floaty after a treatment. Here's what was in there last week:
Treats at the Shibui Spa at the Greenwich Hotel, New York City
We were told to have the Healing Birch massage, which we did and then we compLETELY lucked out by getting the two most magical therapists, Kayo and Yasue. Afterwards, my gent and I just stared at each other from each of our tables and tentatively admitted what we both knew was true: that we'd just had the most wonderful massage of our lives. (Up until then for me it had been the Four Hand massage at Venustus in Paddington.)
As we're in NYC right now, we went back last week and had the same massage/therapists and it was just as wonderful. I'd like to tell you what makes it so unique, but it's very hard to articulate: they are Japanese therapists, and told us they use a blend of shiatsu, remedial and healing movements, but I would describe it as: stretchy, perfect-pressurey, and pressy in all the right spots. Quite possibly it was their locations, like this strange area underneath my armpit for example, that I never knew existed but was incredibly tight and painful, was made them so special, I don't know.
Anyway, it is not cheap, in fact, it it is not even in the same postal code as cheap, but it's a pretty special treatment. (I've sent a few friends there and they loved it too, so phew.)
Aside of talented therapist who asks you what you need/want from the massage (Relaxation? Muscle tension relief? Specific areas? No toes? Only toes?) a few other things make a massage great, in my opinion. Don't feel bad about having high expectations and asking for what you want when you have a massage at a day spa/salon. This is a treat, a little bit of you time that you're paying good money for: there's nothing embarrassing or rude about you asking for the things that would make the treatment as enjoyable as possible. It's a simple service transaction. Don't be a lamb.
In an ideal world, and this is obviously more relevant to the day spa style massage rather than in-and-out kind, this is how my ideal massage would go....
- Parking is a breeze, no time limit or fines possible
- A warm herbal tea before treatment to relax and signal to body it's time to switch off
- Fluffy robe and slippers, and the option of disposable underwear. (Always wear underwear unless you are having a body scrub or have been categorically told no knickers (Lomi Lomi etc). Go the disposables if possible, that way you can get straight into the steam room/sauna/shower straight after without needing swimmers/wetting your knickers/being a nude nut)
- Warm treatment room and therapist asks if you're warm enough
- Mini consultation in which you're very clear about what you want and all is understood
- Genuine spa music, not just daggy music that could pass as spa music - lyrics are hugely distracting for busy people whose minds can't switch off
- Hot rocks and towels used wherever possible. Hot towels are probably the best thing in the world. Also, a little scalp massage to finish (if messed up hair isn't an issue)
- Other therapists and customers are quiet so you don't hear all about Kylie's lunchbreak in your treatment room/mobile phones going off/clop clop clop up and down the hallway
- Half an hour nap on the massage table at conclusion of massage. OH SWEET SUGARPLUMS I WISH.
- Big glass of water for you once you're up and out of the treatment room to stave off inevitable headache from toxins
- Steam or sauna to sit in for 10-15 minutes after massage to let the muscles completely soften and relax, and get the toxins moving
- Hot shower to push massage oils deep into skin/remove the top greasy layer
- No tight/annoying clothes/heels/makeup to put back on, and no social commitments
- Nothing to do but go home and get into onesie and drink hot tea and watch, oh I don't know, probably Gigli.
Did I miss anything in my over-the-top, obscenely obnoxious massage wishlist? Aside of having a scalp massage? What would you do? Where do you go? Where has your best ever massage been? Did you download my Amazing Face App yet? Why not? Oh, you have and you were kidding? Ha ha ha! You're the best. Friends for life.