Whether you’re recovering from jetlag or simply need some R&R after pounding the pavement, a good Chinese-style massage can work wonders. There’s no shortage of no-frills parlors in Hong Kong, where foot massages cost roughly the amount of a Starbucks Frappuccino. But if you’re after a more luxurious experience, we have a few favorites.
To get the most out of a Chinese massage, you should know a few basics about the philosophy, lest you be caught off guard by a thumb digging deep into your heel. Ancient Chinese massage typically follows the principle of qi (the way energy flows throughout the body).
Chinese massage techniques aim to channel this flow of energy that, in turn, improves circulation to all areas of the body. Techniques vary, but you can usually expect a mix of acupressure (pressing specific points to relieve pain and tension), kneading, stretching and temperature therapy — think icy-cold jade or warm stones applied to the body.
Here are our picks for a premium Chinese massage:
The Spa at Four Seasons Hong Kong
Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star The Spa at Four Seasons Hong Kong is regarded as one of the most luxurious spas in the city, and it’s easy to see why. The transformation starts with a relaxing dip in the Vitality Lounge or a few minutes in the crystal steam room, and follows with gorgeous views of Victoria Harbour from a treatment room.
The pampering continues with one of a number of Chinese-style rubdowns, including Jade Stone Therapy — a balancing full-body massage that uses hot jade stones to boost energy and relieve sore muscles.
The spa also offers a traditional Tui Na massage, which is great for those with muscle pain, headaches or arthritis. The technique channels qi energy by using compression techniques, as well as kneading, tapping, rolling and pulling for a holistic experience.
Chuan Spa at Cordis, Hong Kong at Langham Palace
One of the best Chinese-style spas in Hong Kong, Chuan Spa at Cordis, Hong Kong at Langham Palace is a relaxing oasis in the middle of frenetic Mong Kok.
Entering through the recently renovated health club — complete with sky-high views — you will be transported to a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) shop with warm wood and latticed doorways all around.
The signature Chuan Heavenly Jing Luo foot treatment has been designed by the spa’s very own TCM doctor. The acupressure massage starts with a relaxing foot wrap that has been infused with medicinal herbs like mugwort and mineral salts — though exact ingredients may change depending on your body’s needs.
However, this isn’t just an indulgent pampering session. The foot experience gives an authentic introduction to Chinese-style massages and TCM fundamentals.
The Oriental Spa
The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is the definition of sophistication. A relaxing haven in the middle of Central, the chic Five-Star hotel is home to the city’s biggest bathtubs, as well as one of the best spas.
The Five-Star Oriental Spa excels in pampering, starting with an enormous relaxation zone (think heated lounge chairs and crystal steam rooms) and continuing into the lavish massage rooms. The spa specializes in traditional Asian therapies, including a Chinese meridian body massage that manipulates acupressure points to relax even the most uptight travelers.
The Right Spot
Most of the Chinese massage spots in the heart of Central are cramped, busy and a little dingy, but The Right Spot fills the upscale void with its luxury urban escape. The 1,700-square-foot address is decked out in sleek charcoal tones and features contemporary art on the walls, calfskin leather chairs, Egyptian cotton towels, organic essential oils, complimentary herbal soups and dimly lit massage rooms.
The Right Spot is aimed at busy urbanites, so expect efficient options such as Chinese-style acupressure foot massages and lymphatic body massages. The best part: The Right Spot is all about multitasking, offering an express lunch service (with healthy options delivered from restaurants nearby) and a happy hour from 4:30 to 8 p.m. every day.