There’s something sinfully enjoyable about riding the packed and stressful MTR at rush hour, knowing you’re on your way to get a spa treatment rather than to the office like the other commuters. I wouldn’t normally travel as far as Mong Kok (I’m an Island girl!) for a facial, but I made an exception to visit the Chuan Spa at Langham Place as I’ve been wanting to try it out for so long. Based on TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) principles, with treatments personalized according to your personal element, this is a spa with a difference. As it’s on the 41st Floor of Langham Place Hotel, when you’re shown to the spa reception and waiting area, there are panoramic views of Hong Kong’s urban sprawl, unless it’s a “pea-souper” of a day, like it was when I headed there. On a foggy day, it’s rather luxurious to curl up in one of their cosy chairs, a think blanket of mist shrouding the city — you can forget all about where you are and the busy city below and purely relax.
Before my treatment I completed a short questionnaire on an iPad about my favourite colour, season, time of the day, and my general mood tendencies and after a moment of analysis, the computer said my element was “earth”. This then determined the fragrance of the massage oil used during my treatment and what tea I was given. As I’m currently pregnant, they told me I couldn’t actually be massaged with the oil, but that it would be used in the diffuser in the treatment room.
Off I went to the changing room to get ready – standard-issue fluffy robe, slippers and disposable knickers were donned! The changing rooms have seen better days and feel quite dated, but all amenities are provided and it’s comfy enough. I headed off to another waiting area all done up to look like a Chinese Herbalist’s office where I was served further tea, met my smiley therapist, Jennie, then was whisked into my treatment room.
Jennie explained that during the Chuan Yu facial, she would be using jade instruments to stimulate pressure points in my face to help with circulation and tightening. There was one scrapey kind of instrument, and one pointy kind, and I was a little concerned it would be slightly aggressive, but in the end Jennie’s gentle hands just made it feel like being massaged with cool stones on my face. The facial followed a fairly standard process apart from the jade massage part – cleaning, exfoliation (with a steam machine to open the pores which was a lovely touch), serum and massage, and then a peel-off mask. During any “down time” in the procedure, Jennie would give me a lovely massage – either shoulders or arms (and apparently legs and feet too if you’re not preggers). The facial uses Thalgo products which had delicate, natural smells and which didn’t irritate my dry, sensitive skin.
The Chuan Yu facial is quite a relaxing procedure – there’s no unpleasant extraction, and I found myself dropping off before long. I found it was all over a little too quickly for my liking as I was enjoying the pampering so much! I wasn’t sure how much of an effect such a delicately-administered facial would have on my grey, tired and wintery skin, so was really pleasantly surprised when I headed back to the changing room… my skin looked lifted without any uncomfortable tightness and significantly brighter and more plumped. Best of all, as you haven’t been subjected to any pinching and prodding torture, you can throw on a little light makeup and head straight out of the door without needing a paper bag over your head.
While Mong Kok might seem like a bit of a trek and not the most glamorous locale for pampering, Langham Place’s Chuan Spa is well worth a visit, especially if you’re looking for somewhere to take out of town guests who will lap up the Chinese vibe. The perfect way to end your treat-yourself-time? Grab a glass of champers on your way out at the super-hip Backyard bar!
The Chuan Yu facial costs HK975 for 75 minutes. Call 3552 3510 or email [email protected] for reservations.
Chuan Spa, Langham Place, 555 Shanghai Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 3552 3388