Going to the spa was once considered a tai tai indulgence, or a one-off activity for special occasions. It’s a hard-knock life, and for many of us, “self-care” means treating ourselves to a couple of hours at the spa for some much-needed R&R. We looked into (and tried out) some cool and unconventional spa treatments that you can get right here in Hong Kong that not only help to revitalise your body, but also assist in rebalancing your soul. Did I mention how Instagrammable they are as well?
You may have already seen gemstone facials all over social media, but did you know that you can get one yourself at the tranquil elu. spa? elu. spa tackles your skin concerns with a back-to-basics approach, and the products used are all-natural, as well as free of parabens, animal by-products, and artificial colourants and fragrances. The facial itself is fairly standard, where non-invasive procedures are used to cleanse, tone, exfoliate, and moisturise the skin. elu. therapists save the best for last: using gemstone rollers to aid lymphatic drainage, which reduces bloating and inflammation in the face, and finally, a full-face gemstone mask which helps the absorption of the products used, and apparently radiates energy healing vibrations.
We got the chance to try one of elu. spa’s signature gemstone facials and spa treatments. After a consultation session, the therapist decided that our main skin concerns could be addressed with the brightening product set and that the gemstone-du-jour would be rose quartz, to “purify and open the heart in order to promote love, peace, and healing.” The facial process was in-depth and the therapist gave plenty of handy skincare tips (we weren’t pleased to hear that our carb addiction was causing spots) in addition to a head, shoulder, and arms massage. The rose quartz was surprisingly cool to the touch, and the mask provided a pleasant pressure on the face, though the healing energy had yet to be felt. The gemstone facial left our skin soft and radiant and smelling of strawberries. What’s not to like?
elu. spa, 7/F, 46 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central | (+852) 2668 1381
Synaesthesia is a neurological condition where someone might hear colours or see sounds, but it’s also one of LUSH Spa’s signature spa treatments. Synaesthesia came about after LUSH co-founder and head perfumer Mark Constantine OBE, who has scent-shaped synaesthesia (he perceives scents as shapes) worked with renowned behavioural therapist Lady Helen Kennedy and commissioned music from Simon Emmerson of The Imagined Village (who, coincidentally, has sound-colour synaesthesia). Together they created a multi-sensory and mood-changing 80-minute massage that is supposed to not only relax your body, but allow you to leave with an altered state of mind in order to change your behaviours.
We were able to experience a session of the Synaesthesia spa treatments during a particularly stressful week. The entrance to LUSH Spa is tucked away in the Soho Square flagship location, and once inside, you’re transported to a cute and cosy cottage in the English countryside. We were asked to choose a desired state of mind from 11 unique moods written on the wall that we wanted to leave the spa with. Thus, we chose to be at peace, and a massage bar with the corresponding mood formulated by behaviourally-prescribed natural essential oils was used for our massage.
We also had to choose a secondary mood from the 20 potion bottles that lined a shelf and we decided that we needed to let go and gain perception. These “potions” were scents that would fill the treatment room. The full body massage movements are choreographed to the lovely music, specially composed and recorded by an orchestra with English birdsong woven into the tunes. We were told that it is played at a volume that the body can feel. The massage itself was light and relaxing, and hot stones were also used on our chakras and pressure points to help open the heart. The scents, sounds, massage, and coloured lighting in the room (ours was purple!) all combine to create peace. After the treatment, we were given a cup of specially-blended peace tea, as well as a massage bar and a bubble bar stone with the same secret essential oil blend to take home. With 10 more states of mind that we could possibly achieve, we’d definitely go back for a little pick-me-up.
LUSH Spa, 2–4/F, Soho Square, 21 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central | (+852) 3915 0638
Boozy bath and scrub
We all fancy a pint or two at the pub, but did you know that beer is actually a great home remedy for dull hair, rough skin, and strong nails? Sense of Touch Central’s signature Cheers to Beers body spa treatments include a dark ale beer bath followed by a barley body scrub and wraps it all up with a 60-minute deep tissue massage, so you’re absolutely stress-free and ready to go have another couple pints. If you’ve ever wanted to feel like a barrel-aged craft brew, the warm beer bath is perfect, as you’ll soak in a cedar wood barrel bathtub filled with specially-brewed Australian dark ale that’s blended with essential oils and seaweed extract.
Why dark ale and not, say, lager? Dark ale is rich in Vitamin B that’s essential for strong hair and nail growth and radiant skin, and won’t leave you smelling like a brewery. The body scrub is made with freshly-ground barley and organic massage oils, and is used to gently exfoliate the whole body. Overwhelmed by beer? Your treatment concludes with a stress-relieving massage, using organic muscle relief massage oil blended with rosemary, lemongrass, and grapefruit to really relieve all the knots in your muscles.
Sense of Touch Central, 1–5/F, 52 D’Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central | (+852) 2526 6918
Cryotherapy isn’t just for athletic recovery and performance enhancement; you can reap beauty benefits too! During a whole body cryotherapy session, the chamber (or “cryosauna”) is filled in a slow, controlled pattern with dry nitrogen gas to cover the whole body (excluding the head) for three minutes to reach sub-zero temperatures between –90°C to –140°C. The cold temperatures trigger your fight or flight response, which then stimulates blood circulation and increases oxygen and nutrient supply to the body, along with some sweet, sweet endorphins to relieve stress and increase energy levels. You may be thinking, why not just take an ice bath? Well, an ice bath actually reduces the body’s internal temperature as well as freezes muscle tissue, which could cause hypothermia. In other words: no good.
You can give cryotherapy a go at two gyms in Hong Kong: Impakt MMA (Polaris Wellness now operates out of their gym) and The Studio by JAB.
Impakt MMA, 2/F, Wing’s Building, 110–116 Queen’s Road, Central | (+852) 2167 7218
The Studio by JAB, 5/F, Crawford House, 70 Queen’s Road, Central | (+852) 2851 6684
Floating is a sensory deprivation practice that involves lying in 10 inches of 500kg of Epsom salts dissolved in warm water. The salt water allows the person to float effortlessly on the surface of the water, and due to the buoyancy of the saltwater, the forces of gravity that normally act on your body disappear. Everyone gains different benefits from float therapy—it can help with everything from anxiety to pain management, and some enjoy meditating while floating. These particular spa treatments are actually especially beneficial to expecting mothers, as floating mimics the feeling of being in the womb, therefore helping to create a deeper connection with the growing fetus. Floaters are usually in the tank for 60 or 90 minutes, and if you’re claustrophobic, you can leave the tank door open. It’s definitely an interesting and polarising experience, but if you’re able to adjust to the weightlessness and lack of sensory stimulation, it’s a great way to switch off from the daily hustle and bustle.
Float On and FLOAX both offer float therapy at their centres in Mid Levels and Tsim Sha Tsui respectively.
Float On Hong Kong, Basement, 89 Caine Road, Mid Levels | (+852) 2548 2844 | WhatsApp (+852) 5570 6033
FLOAX, 1/F, Wing Hing Mansion, 16 Granville Circuit, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2321 9624
Read More! Check out the 10 best meditation studios and retreats in Hong Kong, or explore the rest of our Wellness section.