Best places for a massage in Dubai
Take some constant worrier genes, add a large amount of desk bound computer work, fold in a soupcon of stressful driving, mix together with bad posture from childhood asthma and, voila, you have cast-iron knotty shoulders. I’ve had this achey, clicky tension framing my neck as long as I can remember – and have passed them onto younger teen (benevolent Mum). My remedy is to sneak off for a massage every so often. Over the years I’ve tried many, many places; in the UK, overseas and here in Dubai. This city is chocabloc with spas and beauty salons, there must be hundreds if not thousands, so the choice is incredible. These are the places at the top of my list, depending on how I feel, how flush my budget is and the time available.
And yes, there is food…..
Best for consistent pampering
SensAsia Urban Spa: When hoping for a spa voucher in my Christmas stocking, I cross my fingers that it’ll be for SensAsia.
What makes it special?
You can smell their seductive signature blend as soon as you step out of the lift. Even though the branches are small and in shopping malls and other urban establishments, you fall under their calming aura the minute you enter. The decoration is high-end Far Eastern. The spa is constantly innovating with new treatments on the menu. Their real strength is the consistency of treatment – you know that whoever you book they will deliver the same massage. The attention to detail and comfort is exceptional, from heated beds, to foot washing before your massage, a flower below your eye gaze under the head hole, to seamless, unjarring music. They train each new therapist for at least six weeks to ensure this happens and the group spa manager visits each branch every day. After your treatment you are led to a recliner, covered in a blanket and a neck warmer. I could spend hours in the calm surroundings and find it hard to prise myself away.
Food and drink: Fresh, hot ginger tea – not too sweet – and crisp, cold, slightly salty cucumber and carrot sticks are brought to the recliner.
Recommended massage: The SensAsia hot stone massage is the ultimate 90 minutes of bliss.
More details: SensAsia Urban Spas – located at The Village Mall, The Palm Jumeirah, Al Manzil Souk Downtown and Emirates Golf Club (with discount for members). Packages available and an in-house loyalty scheme. No wet room facilities (sauna, steam etc).
Best for luxury
Amara Spa, Park Hyatt Dubai: Feel like you are living a celebrity lifestyle in the beautiful surroundings of this spa. A great place to take visitors or having a very special treat.
What makes it special?
The Park Hyatt is a very pretty hotel and the Arabic influenced decoration extends to the spa. On arrival you are asked for your preferences including the scents you like and the music. You can use the steam room or sauna beforehand (there’s no jacuzzi) before donning a huge, fluffy white robe and being led to your treatment room. This is where the luxury really starts as each room opens onto an outside courtyard and tiny garden. You can shower there or just sit and have a glass of water while the therapist washes your feet. You lie on and are covered with crisp white cotton sheets instead of towels which makes it feels as though you are at home in bed (albeit a luxurious version). After your treatment you can recline on loungers in a long outside courtyard lit with flaming torches. The reception phones for your valet-parked car to be brought when you’ve finished so you don’t have to hang around and ripple the calm waves of total bliss which are now washing over you.
Food and drink: Tea and small snacks including dates are brought to you as you recline. You can also exit the spa directly into the pool area and have lunch at the pool bar.
Recommended massage: Botanical Arabic massage – a perfect, aromatic blend of Eastern and Western techniques.
More details: Amara Spa, Park Hyatt Dubai Couple and group bookings available (e.g. ‘Hen half day’). You can use the hotel pool and the fitness centre when you book a treatment.
Best for serenity
Spa Zen, Nassima Royal Hotel, Dubai: Really does live up to its name.
What makes it special? It’s hard to believe that somewhere this tranquil is situated in the middle of a busy area on the Sheikh Zayed Road. The first thing you are struck by is the silence when you enter this spa on one of the upper floors of the hotel. The interior lines are clean and decor minimal, it’s as though the smooth concrete walls are muffling everything outside. The wet areas of jacuzzi and steam room are similarly unadorned – no embellishments or ornaments interrupt the energy flow – but it doesn’t feel at all spartan, just incredibly relaxing, especially with great views over the city. A place to truly switch off your mind as well as your body. The minimalism doesn’t affect the quality of the treatment either – heated beds keep you warm while the room is comfortably cool, for instance – and the massage is high quality and service personal and attentive.
Food and drink: Tea is brought at the end of the treatment where you can relax on loungers. You can have lunch at the pool bar (use of the pool is included).
Recommended massage: Zen Royal Massage
More details: Spa Zen, Nassima Royal Hotel, Dubai Spa Zen runs different promotions and often give vouchers off your next treatment when you’ve booked a massage.
Best affordable de-stress
De La Mer Spa: Not just convenient for Umm Suqeim 2 dwellers like me, this spa keeps my knotty shoulders at bay as I can afford to visit regularly.
What makes it special? This lovely spa in a villa on the Jumeirah Beach Road boasts many of the features of more expensive places but keeps its prices lower. The decoration is Asian inspired and while not as high end as the more luxurious spas it is relaxing and comfortable. The changing area doesn’t have cubicles but once you are inside the treatment rooms the pampering from Thai or Filipino staff begins. Foot washing and good quality oils are used, and ginger tea and crudites are given to you on the sofa areas at the end of the treatment. The spa has an outdoor pool and many of the treatments use homemade scrubs and products made with botanicals grown in the garden. Booking service is friendly and efficient – you receive an email to confirm your appointment.
Food and drink: Ginger tea and crudites are given to you on the sofa areas at the end of the treatment.
Recommended massage: Balinese
More details: De La Mer Day Spa There are vouchers in the Explorer Body (and HSBC Explorer) plus you can use Snappcard loyalty app and get one free massage for every five. There are regular promotions and discount packages. Parking is easy if you drive to the street behind and walk through the alleyway.
Reviews based on my own paid-for experiences. I received a complimentary head massage from SensAsia and a treatment from Zen Spa but after I’d written this review.
What’s the best massage you’ve ever had (or do you dislike them – it’s true KP does)? Have you anywhere to recommend in Dubai or elsewhere? Is it even possible to get a good massage in the UK (I’m always disappointed)?