When you think of Mong Kok, “relaxing oasis of calm” probably isn’t the first phrase that springs to mind; in fact, “crazy-intense shopping insanity that sets my teeth on edge the minute I arrive at the MTR station” is probably a lot more apt. But the second you step out of the crush and into Chuan Spa, the stress all just melts away.
Located in Cordis Hong Kong – the hotel formerly known as Langham Place Hong Kong – Chuan Spa is a pampering destination with a difference, being one of the only fancy hotel spas to concentrate more on traditional Chinese medicine. This manifests itself both in the décor, which is all dark wood, jade and Asian antique design touches – I loved the gorgeous medicine cabinet in the waiting room and the trickling water feature in the corridors between therapy rooms – and the treatments themselves, which have been designed to balance the traditional five elements of water, earth, fire, wood and metal.
I was invited to try the Chuan Tao of Detox treatment, a bumper 150 minutes of pampering bliss. But before hitting the massage bed, there’s a short questionnaire to complete in the spa’s serene contemplation room – which boasts some pretty cool views over Kowloon to boot – to discover what element you most identify with, which in turn matches with one of five custom Chuan Spa oil blends. I did this, discovered my element then swiftly went off-piste to pick whichever one featured my beloved lavender instead (wood, by the way)!
Having been picked up by my spa therapist Jessie from the waiting room (where I was busy stuffing my face with complimentary butter cookies; note to spas, never leave Rachel Read unattended with a cookie jar!), it was time to begin my Chuan Tao of Detox journey. Comprising a full-body exfoliation, body wrap, acupressure massage and rejuvenating facial, it’s basically every spa treatment you know and love rolled into one heaven-sent whole! As there are so many components, there’s a fair bit of lumbering on and off the massage bed to go hose yourself down in the shower… but given the shower is literally two paces away from your bed and your therapist turns it on in advance so that it’s already lovely and warm as soon as you step in, these really are #firstworldproblems we’re dealing with!
To be honest, the whole two-and-a-half hours passed by in a blur of beyond blissful indulgence. The body scrub, designed to stimulate blood and lymph circulation, is reviving rather than abrasive; the detoxifying warm marine algae wrap smells a bit like a sushi restaurant’s kitchen, but is cocooning rather than constrictive. The massage is of course over far too soon, as Jessie lovingly works her magic on my neck, shoulders, back and tailbone – with all my aches and pains disappearing as quickly as those cookies in the Chuan Spa waiting room.
The longest component of the treatment is the facial, which uses products from French spa brand Thalgo specifically chosen to restore and nourish dehydrated skin. The cleansing, extraction and moisturising is all as great as you’d expect but as usual, my favourite aspect is the head massage, which swiftly sends me to the happiest of happy places. Forget Derren Brown mind trickery… I’m sure there’s all manner of sins I’d commit for a seriously good head massage!
And with that, alas, it’s over. However long they sound on paper, spa treatments are just never long enough, are they? Chuan Spa guests can prolong their chill at the relaxation room, where Jessie brings me a tea and some fresh watermelon, which I don’t eat so she conspiratorially brings me yet more butter cookies (sorry detoxifying wrap, you tried your best).
The weather was dismal the day I visited, giving my spa day an extra wash of smug satisfaction, but there was a downside – namely that Cordis’ rooftop pool was closed. Do try and time your visit for sunnier times as the Chuan Tao of Detox package includes all-day access to the pool, which also boasts a relaxing Jacuzzi and cushy cabanas ideal for whiling away the hours in style. You also get access to the spa’s fitness centre, tri-bathing ritual (sauna, steam room and Oriental hot tub) and onsen-inspired Japanese experience shower… a fantastic deal in any spa junkie’s book.
The tri-bathing ritual is probably the only slight negative I have for Chuan Spa; it’s located in the spa’s changing room which is already on the tight side and given the layout is rather snug, means that one part of the room is steamingly hot, which I found a little uncomfortable. But again, #firstworldproblems… because hello, hot tub!
Chuan Spa is one of the most reasonably-priced hotel spas in Hong Kong, given the quality of the treatments, the luxury of the ambience and the abundance of extra perks to your package; Chuan Tao of Detox clocks in at $1825 for 150 minutes, which I’ve definitely paid for treatments elsewhere that were merely half as long and half as awesome. With the TCM-influence delivering a more unique spin on luxury hotel spas, Chuan Spa is a something of a gem in manic Mong Kok – a relaxing oasis of calm in an area I’d never thought it possible.
The Chuan Tao of Detox costs $1825 for 150 minutes.
Chuan Spa, Level 41, Cordis Hong Kong, Langham Place, 555 Shanghai Street, Mong Kok, Hong Kong, +852 3552 3510
Note: this treatment was by invitation