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Serene treatment room at The Connaught's Aman Spa

The best Chinese spa treatments in London to ring in the Lunar New Year

Welcome to the Year of the Dragon in London with these Chinese-inspired spa treatments – promising a fresh start just in time for the Lunar New Year


01/01/2024

Red lanterns may hang year-round over London’s Chinatown, but the compact neighbourhood really pulls out all the stops during Lunar New Year – a chance for the local East and Southeast Asian diaspora to ring in the new year in a colourful cacophony of drumming, firecrackers and feisty lion dances. If that all sounds too hectic, there is a gentler way to mark the occasion. The most important of celebrations in the lunar calendar is also known as the Spring Festival – the perfect excuse to treat your body to a post-hibernation MOT. Thankfully, bubble tea shops aren’t the only eastern import to be cropping up all over town. Londoners need no convincing when it comes to the mind-soothing, muscle-relaxing benefits of treatments inspired by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Before you succumb to the siren song of cookie-cutter high-street clinics, frequent spa-er Madévi Dailly road-tests the best spa treatments in London for Lunar New Year.


WHAT

Chuan Yu facial

WHERE

Chuan Spa, The Langham, Oxford Circus

By the time you’ve navigated this grand hotel’s legendary labyrinth of stairs and hallways, you’ll feel miles away from the chaotic fever dream of nearby Oxford Circus. This hushed subterranean spa follows the principles of Chinese medicine, with a pre-treatment questionnaire covering mood, preferences and ailments to determine which of the five natural elements should guide the choice of products. The signature Chuan Yu facial uses soothing strokes with a warm gua sha to detoxify the skin and cooled stones to smooth and depuff the eye area – effective relief for doom-scrollers. The treatment takes place on a heated bed under a cloud-like down duvet, so the real challenge is staying awake long enough for the arm and head massage. Either way, you’ll be rewarded with smoothed, toned and glowing skin. Renowned TCM practitioner Professor Ke also offers consultations: with 50 years of herbal studies under his belt, the straight-talking expert has successfully treated everything from fatigue to fertility problems.

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WHAT

Grounding massage ritual

WHERE

Aman Spa, The Connaught, Mayfair

No word is more likely to elicit an eyeroll from the cynical spa reviewer than ‘grounding’, a term so liberally applied to oils, fragrances and massage strokes to have lost almost all meaning. Happily the Connaught’s Aman Spa has reclaimed it as its own, thanks to this ritual crafted to deliver a full body and mind reset. The experience starts with an amethyst and maca foot scrub, followed by a fragrant black storax smoke ceremony to open the airways. A Tibetan singing bowl is rung to mark the start and end of a massage with a divine body balm rich in amber and sandalwood oils – a thorough 90 minutes of deep Ku Nye kneading, hand-cupping along meridian lines and a blissful head massage guaranteed to soothe any residual aches and tension. Guests can linger in the pool and steam room before their treatments. You’ll find fluffy robes and home-brewed lemongrass tea to ease your way back to normal life.

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WHAT

Power of the Orient massage and facial

WHERE

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London, Knightsbridge

 

Deep in the belly of what is arguably London’s most iconic Asian hotel, the Mandarin Oriental’s spa is an, elegant, if somewhat brooding, sanctuary in which to set about rebalancing your qi. The treatment begins with a series of diagnostic questions (Are you a list maker? Do you tend to overthink?) relating to the principles of yin and yang – which decide the direction of the treatment – with products and techniques tailored to your needs. After a piping hot foot bath, proceedings continue with either an energising body scrub or a cleansing clay balm applied to areas of the body most in need of attention. A life-giving massage follows, with limbs kneaded deeply with elbows and forearms to melt away gritty lumps of lactic acid. Particular focus is given to acupressure points along the body’s meridian lines, which, when pressed, elicit a flush of warmth in the body, signalling released toxins and an increased blood flow. The treatment finishes with a custom facial using nourishing Oskia products after which you’ll look, and feel, genuinely reborn.

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WHAT

Chakra energy balancing massage     

WHERE

Aveda Spa, Covent Garden

For all their high-fashion high jinks, London hair salons have yet to embrace the kind of calming, pampering treatments that are all the rage in the East – think steam treatments, lengthy scalp massages and deep-conditioning balms. If you’re after more than a standard cut and dry, head to Aveda’s flagship salon in Covent Garden. The sleek, sprawling space doesn’t just offer the brand’s signature Ayurveda-inspired haircare: you can book one of the serene spa rooms for tailored body treatments and dreamy massages. After some deep-tissue work, the Chakra energy balancing massage uses reflexology – an ancient Chinese practice focusing on the feet – to relax the whole body and help energy flow around it. The session ends with guided visualisations to relieve stress. Don’t be surprised if you leave the spa with a bounce in your step.

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WHAT

Facial acupuncture

WHERE

ilapothecary

This bijoux Notting Hill shop opens for treatments every Monday, offering a suite of therapies ranging from silk facials and hormone-balancing massages to the ancient practice of acupuncture. When applied to the face, the results materialise all the benefits sought from many an overpriced serum but with much more success, whether you’re after a boost of collagen or to rub away crow’s feet. Furrowed foreheads and smile lines are attended to here, with from ten to 20 needles inserted into the face (and more in the body) depending on your tolerance. The squeamish need not fear – needles are less than two inches long, and administered with such expertise you’ll feel nothing more than a light tingling followed by deep relaxation. After 20 minutes, the needles are removed, the face cleansed and gently massaged with a Vitamin A, C, D and E-Rich Face Oil and the regenerating Save Face Serum – two of the brand’s best-selling products and undisputed youth elixirs.

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