We all have those moments. You know the ones. Moments where life becomes too stressful and you all but want to break away and escape to luxury and relaxation. A one way ticket to a far off land may be too expensive to do every day that ends in ‘Y’ but occasional spa breaks in London or your nearest major city is a relaxing getaway that doesn’t always have to break the bank!
But how do you choose the best spa treatment to get when splurging for a bit of ‘me time?’ Sure, you could go after the traditional 30 or 60 minute back massage, a go to favorite for many around the world. But why go for something standard when there is so many spa packages available at your disposal? When looking at your next spa outing, consider some of the following treatments we’ve personally tried in our travels throughout the world.
Turkish Style Baths (Hamam)
If you want to think of relaxation, look no further than the Turks – they know it better than anyone. To get in touch with your inner Turk, head to one of the UK spa hotels with included hamam to find your little slice of heaven.
What is a hamam? You may be a bit more familiar with the term sauna, except that the Turkish style facilities operate on a more luxurious level altogether. In traditional hamams, multiple beautifully crafted rooms are designed to pump in steam at various degrees of temperature. You progress through the rooms at your leisure, slowly increasing your level of sweat as you go. You end the steam room experience with dousing yourself with cold water to remove all sweat and have a nice relaxing massage to prepare for the day ahead.
More modern hamams have even included bathing pools of similar style to add to the experience. As you slowly make your way through relaxing in the increasingly hot pools while letting all your wordly cares float away, you then end with a splash in icy cool water and repeat the process over as you please – as long as your time limit doesn’t run out!
We tried this particular spa type while on our honeymoon in Spain earlier this year. Comfort is the key in the large hamams as everything is designed to be a feast not only for your skin but for your eyes as well. Ornate pools are inlayed with marble designs, large columns adorn the walls, and the steam rooms are as vast and ornate as they are hot. Don’t be fooled; however, as these spas are open for everyone and have a strict bathing suit requirement for all who enter.
Japanese Style Onsen
Much like the Turkish Baths in the previous post, a Japanese onsen focuses on the bathing aspect of relaxation. Typically found in small ryokans and bed & breakfast style hotels, Japanese onsens are are also found in city centers to serve the community in massive complexes often perched on beautiful overlooks with an open air theme allowing nature to come right up to the baths. Using natural hot spring water, onsens are designed to have multiple pools of varying temperature and for the same medicinal benefits as the Turkish Hamam – healing aches, pains, and easing other long-term disorders.
I tried this type of spa treatment not once, but twice while in Japan and had quite a relaxing time. No massages included in this round, but relaxing with beatuful vistas and hot water isn’t all that bad and something I could easily get used to. Be warned though – unlike the Turkish Hamams we described above, don’t be surprised if you are asked to strip bare before entering! Nothing but a towel of shame here. (Photo “Onsen” by Chris73)
Chinese Cupping Practice
Among the many types of Chinese medicinal massage styles available, one stands out to us as being fundamentally unique: cupping therapy. I inadvertently agreed to this while in China not knowing what the masseur was asking me. For $1 extra I went for it, and learned a lot in the process.
Cupping therapy is essentially that, using cups for medicinal benefit. To achieve this process, a flame is run throughout the inside of a round, small mouth cup. The flame consumes all of the oxygen in the cup and helps create a small vacuum when applied directly to the skin quickly thereafter. Within a few minutes liquid will be brought to the surface of your skin that is said to contain toxins that are pulled out from the body, helping treat conditions ranging from colds to advanced musculoskeletal conditions.
While the benefits of this ancient treatment are not proven scientifically, can you say no to having the great cupping marks on your back for a few weeks after? I think not!
This particular spa treatment option is growing in popularity all over the world, from the Middle East, the Phi Phi Islands of Thailand, all the way to spa breaks in the north west of England, and is sure to tickle your senses. Tickle is an appropriate term as a fish pedicure offers a sensation that is surely to make you laugh!
The fish for this particular spa treatment is the Garra rufa, or doctor fish. These tiny minnows do all the work while you sit back and laugh your way to smooth skin. You see, the doctor fish do all the work of cleaning your feet entirely with their tiny mouths! All you have to do is put your skin in the water and within moments hundreds of these tiny fish will begin sucking on your legs, breaking off the dead skin in the process while searching for food.
We tried this particular procedure while on holiday in Thailand a few years ago and enjoyed the benefits of having our dead skin bit away by hundreds of tiny fish. While we laughed and giggled the whole time from the hundreds of tiny tickles on the bottom of our feet, it really worked! Our feet felt cleansed and refreshed by the time we got done and I felt bad for those poor fish eating the dead skin after the end of my 150 day adventure in Asia.
When planning your next spa break, get away from the normal and try something new! The world is full of interesting treatment packages that are being adopted globally in recent years. Sure you may have to step out of your comfort zone to try a few of these treatment packages, but your body will surely thank you for the luxurious experience no matter what you pick. You wont regret it!
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Thinking of making a trip around Europe by train? Check out prices of Rail Europe passes or individual train tickets to save a lot of money on your journey!