Tucked away in the wilds of Al Waab, it’s a mix of cool whites and creams with pops of green, in what looks like a repurposed villa. The small space is made up of eight spacious treatment rooms, including private changing suites, although you still have to wander down the hall to find a toilet.
The menu describes it as an ‘unbelievably relaxing’ experience using bamboo and hot oil – products I generally associate with someone making me talk, not helping me de-stress.
Step by step
I catch a glimpse of what’s in store as my therapist readies the lengths of bamboo. About the size of a ruler, they’re rather ominous. Despite a bit of a language barrier, my therapist explains this is closer to a hot stone massage, using gentle, warming pressure. First, she begins with light strokes of her hands up and down my back, legs and arms, using a lovely smelling oil. Then, the sticks of bamboo are literally pressed into service. She pours warm oil in a puddle on my skin before rolling the bamboo back and forth. Unlike hot stone massaages, where the stones quickly cool or feel like lumps of molten burning lava, the hot oil keeps a consistent warm temperature as it is spread over my skin. More importantly, the length of bamboo pushes and squeezes my tension and knots out without having to dig into them – it’s a gentle yet effective deep massage that reminds me of bouts of physiotherapy, without the screaming.
• The bamboo creates a deliciously tingly sensation as knots are squeezed out of you like a tube of toothpaste
• The hot oil keeps a consistent, warm temperature
• There’s a lot of oil involved – this is not a massage for when you go straight out afterwards. You’re going to want a shower
Afterwards I’m like a kitten in a sunbeam – perfectly relaxed, without that bruised feeling I get when my knots are usually worked out. This feeling lasts for a surprisingly long time – the bamboo working in a similar fashion to techniques used by physiotherapists and sports trainers to loosen tight muscles. My skin feels hydrated under its slick film of oil too.
Warm Bamboo Massage, QR380 for 90 minutes. Essence Spa, 55 South Meayder, Street 364, Al Waab (4450 2226)