Does the Anantara Spa deserve its title of Thailand’s Best Hotel Spa 2017? We find out
One of Bangkok’s greatest assets is its sheer number and diversity of wellness venues. From tiny massage parlours to lavish spa retreats, there’s something for every taste and budget. And new ones seem to pop up all the time. So much so that there’s probably a spa round every corner. So much so that older establishments sometimes get forgotten in the chase for shiny objects.
Old is gold, surely? For Anantara Spa, that’s literally the case – gold leaf is involved in its treatments. But more on that later. The hotel that it is contained in – the Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel – is also gold, having gone through a recent US$20 million refurbishment).
The 35-year-old property is the chain’s flagship hotel in the capital, and one of the city’s most storied. More importantly, Anantara Spa scooped up the title of Thailand’s Best Hotel Spa at the World Spa Awards 2017.
I stayed there recently and part of my package involved a signature spa treatment. I was powerless to resist.
So at the appointed time – 10 am on a Tuesday in May – I made my way to Anantara Spa. It’s located on Level 2 of the hotel, the same level as the outdoor pool.
After signing in, I was given a welcome drink and a refreshing cold towel. A nice touch if you’re coming in from the oppressive heat of Bangkok’s summer, but a bit lost on me. I had just ambled down from my comfortably air-conditioned room.
My treatment was pre-arranged. It was the Siam 2482 (THB4,900; RM612), a 90-minute massage that incorporates healing traditions from Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and China.
My therapist led me down a series of long, narrow passageways. It was like a rabbit warren. I would have gotten lost had I been left to my own devices.
Gauzy linen curtains greeted my arrival into the treatment suite. They billowed in the breeze (OK, aircon draft), creating an ethereal effect. It felt like I was entering a harem.
I say “suite” because it’s the size of a small apartment (a good 50sq.m by my estimates), complete with wardrobe and changing area, shower, WC, lounge, double massage beds and a soaking tub.
You could swing a few cats in the changing area alone. There was a cupboard with a small lockable drawer to stash your valuables, a dressing table and mirror, and a small sink.
My treatment began with a foot bath in the lounge area. The warm bath was filled with kaffir lime leaves, kaffir limes and lemongrass – all (delicious) local ingredients. My feet were given a scrub, followed by a herbal compress, and then an invigorating peppermint spritz. They received more pampering that my entire body at lesser spas I’ve been to.
Then it was on to the massage area.
With muzak interspersed with birdsong playing in the background, I slumped onto the massage bed face-down, discovering that it was the most comfortable mattress I had ever laid on in a spa. It was the Goldilocks Principle of mattresses: firm but gently yielding, neither too soft nor too hard. Just right.
And then there was the headrest. Padded and wrapped in terrycloth, it bolstered my face in a soft embrace. How could I ever go back to regular headrests? #firstworldproblems, for sure.
My therapist then proceeded to perform a bamboo stick massage – using rolling pin-on-dough strokes – to stimulate my circulation. I’ve never had this type of massage before, so the sensation was novel. It turns out the bamboo stick wasn’t a torture device after all.
She also used stretching and pressure point techniques to aid my energy flow and improve my flexibility. This was followed by a herbal compress, a herbal oil massage, and foot reflexology. The herbal compress was deeply relaxing, like a warm hug.
My body had more knots than a classic sailing ship. But my experienced therapist found them all and worked them out. With deftness, I might add. Ah, massage therapists. The unsung heroes of the world.
Ninety minutes was over too soon. But just when I thought the treatment had ended, there came a surprise.
My therapist placed gold leaf patches on my left arm and left side of my chest. It’s a mindfulness ritual that encourages the quieting of the mind. I don’t practice mindfulness, but I sure felt special – like receiving a gold star. In fact I wanted to give a gold leaf patch to my therapist for doing such a good job.
After getting dressed, I was ushered into a rest area, another room within the cavernous Anantara Spa. Plushly decorated with Thai silk-panelled walls, tasselled pillows and gold accents, it was fit for a King.
I liked that it was a separate room and not a corner of the reception area, like in some spas. I could relax behind closed doors and not be interrupted by incoming spa-goers.
The proceedings came to a close with a serving of hot tea and nibbles. I devoured the lot quickly, just in case I got too comfortable and dozed off.
Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel
155 Ratchadamri Road
Khet Pathum Wan
Tel: +66 2 126 8866