Taking the one you love for a spa treatment might not spring to mind as the perfect date. However, treating them to the unspeakably delightful sensation of a hot stone massage, and experiencing it alongside them, is likely to change your mind in a flash...
Ananda Spa is a two-storey spa pitching itself as an oasis of tranquility in Bangkok's hectic Sukhumvit area. The tastefully earth-toned and deliciously-scented lobby sets the mood from the moment you arrive.
It came as no surprise to learn the name Ananda in ancient Sanskrit means 'harmony'; from the soul-soothing scent that lingers throughout to the treatments on offer, this is a place determined to restore it. What's more, while the spa experience centres on private sensations, many treatment rooms - with dedicated Jacuzzi, shower and toilet - are perfectly suited to sharing.
Hot stone massage: sacred and ancient healing at work
We opted for the 90-minute 'Hot Stone Massage'; a treatment dating back thousands of years to the ancient Greeks, and where water-heated Basalt stones (from the Philippines) are applied to the body to improve circulation and relieve stiff muscles. Although Ananda offers an array of signature treatments, specialised massages, spa body treatments, spa baths, facials, waxing and salon services - any of which can be performed for couples - something about the hot stone massage appealed to us...
Smooth, heat-retaining stones are heated to 70 - 75 degrees Celsius before being used to massage the body and rest on or underneath the body at particular points; including in between the toes. It's also said to be great for those with muscle injury or inflammation; the heat transmitted to the body helping relax muscles and aid nutrient-rich blood to flow more freely, thus aiding healing. But above all it sounded, well, rather sexy.
Double the pleasure, twice the enjoyment
We were led upstairs through warmly lit, earth-toned corridors, and into the soft arms of some Ananda treatment robes. Guided by two silent but smiling therapists to treatment tables, we were asked to lie face down.
Starting at the legs, the therapist begins by using Swedish massage style strokes to disperse Ananda's signature herbal oil (a secret concoction) which, apart from relaxing the body, turns the skin into a silky smooth surface.
Then the gentle clinking of stones and soft splashing of water heightens anticipation before two searing hot stones begin sliding back and forth fast along the length of the leg. She repeats the same for each limb, the fire-like sensation becoming compulsive as muscles are soothed and the body enters a deeply relaxed state.
A dialogue with volcanic stones
Therapists then slowly, ceremoniously place hot stones and pebbles under arms, palms, along the trace of the spine and cozily between each toe. Then they left us there, for five minutes - or perhaps five hours. They gave me penetrating heat, I give them thought, pondering their ancient history, their volcanic origins.
Then we turned onto our backs and a similar process repeated; oil application, stone strokes and a small stone placed on the temple to complete the Zen-like calm, before traditional Thai style massages close off the delightful ritual.
Showered up and back in the lobby, sipping on a re-hydrating herbal infusion, we were left to muse over the massage. As well as altering the body's state of being and feeling great, it also encourages a purity of mind, clearing out all the unnecessary filth that clogs perception. I can't comment on the medicinal benefits, but we also felt ready to take on Sukhumvit's seething streets again.
Note: The 90-minute Hot Stone Massage (2,500 baht per person) is one of many body and soul pampering treatments offered at Ananda Spa. Signature treatments combine aromatherapy, deep tissue massage, Thai, Shiatsu and Ayuverdic techniques alongside specialised massages, spa body treatments, spa baths, facial treatments, waxing and salon services. With several treatment rooms for two, all treatments and packages are available for either singles or couples. The 'Ananda Couple Retreat' package offers a refreshing salt scrub, Ananda massage and revitalising bath, costing 6,590 baht.
- Opening Hours: 09:00 - 22:00
- Location: President Solitaire, Sukhumvit Soi 11 and The Capitol Club, Sukhumvit Soi 24
- BTS: Nana