Don’t let the Deira address put you off. This elegant Korean hotel is easily accessible, located within five minutes of the metro. Saunas are intensely popular in Korea and often segregated; for that reason the hotel’s owner has chosen to separate a men-only spa at the top of the building from the female-dominated beauty salon on the mezzanine floor. Koreans tend to be into their gadgetry and the super-equipped high-tech salon is no exception.
The ‘hot stone of the back’ massage uses smooth pebbles heated in hot water to knead the knots out as you lie on a warm table, the theory being that a raised body temperature relaxes the mind and softens the muscles. It’s also said to be good for breaking down excess fat that many women have on their hips and bottoms. Almond oil softens the skin, while the therapists set about their work loosening your shoulders, neck and back.
Step by step
The Korean girls staffing the spa are still working on their English, so an amount of gesturing and interpretation is required to understand the instructions, but they’re so polite that it’s impossible to fault them. The therapist starts with some gentle massage strokes to smooth the oil over my entire back and shoulders before starting with the stones which, as the title suggests, are pretty hot.
‘Good strength?’ enquires one of the principle therapists as the stone kneading gets under way. I ask whether it’s supposed to be a firm, sports-style massage. ‘Stronger better’, she says. Although I wince and scrunch my face into the table as she works the stones across my upper back, it’s worth the temporary pain to have knowing hands smoothing out taut, weary muscles, leaving me with a lighter-than-air feeling.
Over the hour, a cycle of stones are used to maintain a hot temperature. They are rubbed over my back, neck, shoulders and rested in my hands and lower back when not being used to massage.
Consider it a therapy rather than a spa treatment. My unusually knotted shoulders felt more flexible afterwards, and my head was in the clouds for a few hours.
• Genuinely effective for office-tense backs and shoulders.
• Very pleasant, helpful therapists with excellent physiological knowledge.
• The language barrier makes communication difficult: a drawback when you’re trying to tailor your treatment to your preferences or follow instructions.
• For some reason the face aperture in the massage table kept digging into my neck, and no amount of adjustment could make it completely comfortable.
This hot-stone massage uses basalt volcanic stones to relax muscles, working with the chakras to balance energy flow.
Dhs420 for 75 minutes. Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina (04 399 5000).
Try this stone therapy body massage, which claims to release toxins.
Dhs350 for 60 minutes. Karisma Ladies Centre, Oud Metha (04 335 9533).