Treatment review: Hot and Cold Stone Massage
Frederika Whitehead experiences a relaxing but reviving hot and cold stone massage at the spa at The Landmark London
The story: The Landmark London opened as one of the great Victorian railway hotels in 1899 and has successfully retained its grandeur. With its stunning facade, canopied entrances, liveried doormen, and the décor throughout, it spells five-star.
The four-treatment room spa isn't huge, but there is a 15m chlorine-free pool, a whirlpool, and a sanarium, and the male and female changing rooms each have small, mosaic-tiled steam room. It's well designed, with enough sheltered spots to allow half a dozen or so couples to relax in privacy.
Most importantly, for my personal taste, the pressure in the jacuzzi will knock your socks off. The overhead swan neck fountain in particular gives visitors a real pummelling.
Hida Shuleta, spa and health club manager at The Landmark London, says the spa's approach is holistic. They treat the whole person, promoting emotional and physical wellbeing, as well as solving any specific niggles. And they scoured the globe to find the best brands and concepts.
“Working with Germaine de Capuccini, one of Europe’s leading skincare houses, our treatments are based on the best therapies and techniques from across the world," Shuleta explains.
The treatment: The spa at The Landmark London offers a range of treatments that are slightly unusual, and very appealing. I had a hard time choosing from the long list of lovely-sounding options, but in the end I plumped for a Hot and Cold Stone Massage.
This is partly because I was intrigued, as this is not a treatment that is frequently seen on spa menus. Hot stones, yes, but and hot and cold together, that's not so readily available. So (pause for the violins) I stoically volunteered to try it out.
The first thing my therapist did was carry out a sensory test: she asked me to smell two oils and choose between them. The oil I opted for, she said, indicated to her what I needed from the treatment:
“Guests are drawn to the thing they need on that day,” she commented, adding that it's not just a case of overall prefence and that regular clients will choose different scents on different days.
After I'd chosen my oil, the first stage of the treatment was a pressure point massage with steamed pindas. My therapist explained that this puts the clients into an instant state of relaxation, before the treatment proper begins. The third part of the warm up was to inhale my chosen aroma, taking three deep breaths.
And then it was onto the main act, the hot and cold stones. The hot stones are obsidian, a naturally occurring black glass made from molten volcanic lava, while the cold stones are white onyx.
The heated stones relax tight muscles; as the blood vessels dilate, more blood is allowed to flow to the area, inducing a warm, relaxed feeling. The cold stones give the body an enormous jolt: the blood vessels constrict and the brain transmits messages to the organs to send warm blood to the area immediately.
A mass of fresh blood then rushes to the cold area, purging it of toxins, warming it, and sluicing it through with fresh, clean, nourishing blood.
This was a treatment unlike any that I've had before. My usual order off any spa treatment menu is anything that involves deep, strong pressure, but this treatment did nto have that – only light pressure was used during the massage. However, when the treatment finished I felt cleansed from the inside out, as well as deeply relaxed.
Business boost: Having treatments that are not readily available elsewhere is bound to appeal to customers at any spa, and make them more likely to return regularly. In this case, it also marks the spa at The Landmark London out as a facility that searches for the best treatments from around the world and brings them to London.