07 Nov Smells like Spa Spirit
Review of Villa.Like Oriental SPA
by Staff writer.
Taipei, the densely populated but friendly capital of Taiwan, has a million massage parlours (ok, slight exaggeration!) And that’s a good thing, because this city of close to three million people, with its oceans of scooters, thundering traffic, and clamorous night markets, can, at times, niggle the nerves.
If you’re not a fan of the starched white towel, medical Chinese tui na (a type of massage that mangles and probes pressure points, with the goal of healing in mind, but in my experience, oftentimes a shade too sadistic), and are after something a bit more, soothing shall we say, then Villa.Like, a small personal chain of Thai style spas, is upmarket enough to make you feel spoiled but not too upmarket that you need to take out a loan. Their treatments range from NT$1,250 (about 32 pounds) for a one-hour full body massage to NT$5,500 (just over 140 pounds) for their two-hour signature aroma 4-hands massage.
Hustle through the hushed doors and the light dims; it’s all darkened glass and plum-brown walls with Thai touches such as embroidered cushions. The owner chose the name, Villa.Like, to represent the idea that here was something like a villa right in the middle of the city. The menu of treatments ranges from a two-hour body yoga (with help of a masseuse) to the royal class four hands treatment. There’s foot massage, facials, full-body massage, aromatic massage, and even a balance relaxation treatment for pregnant women. I opted for the one-hour Thai aromatic massage (one of the most popular treatments).
I’m asked to choose my scented oil: the problem is all six smell fantastic – there’s morning (good for the stomach), ocean (for the kidneys), forest (for the liver), light (beneficial for the blood and circulation), crystal (for the lungs) and zen (for improving sleep). I’m feeling sluggish so I choose light (which smells tangy). I ask if there’s one to improve brain power? Not yet, the manager smiles back.
I am served hot ginger tea on a small tray in a brown cup. The ginger and heat of the tea have an appealing zest, so much so that I wonder why do I drink so much coffee when I could drink delicious ginger tea instead! Before I can finish the cup through I’m escorted for the complimentary initial 15-minute foot rub by my masseur, Jenny, whose touch proves to be the physical equivalent of the ginger brew.
Underneath us, beneath a glass floor, goldfish flick and flicker in a pool – and I think perhaps this is like a villa! My feet are soaked, sprayed and scrubbed with aromatic potions so that I feel I am floating when, 15 minutes later I’m led upstairs to my private room – more dark wood and muted lighting — and told to strip and get into what amounts to a paper thong! At least it fits! And the towels are copious.
Jenny is thankfully gentle – this is, to my delight, Thai lite. Although that’s not say she doesn’t bend and push and tease my computer-slumped body in ways it should have been moved years ago. With the strong scent of the aromatic oil (presumably giving my blood flow a kick in the right direction) she uses her knees and feet to smooth out kinks in my spine. She is strong and the sensations are rolling and pleasing and I’m sporadically layered in hot towels so I feel a bit like I’ve been carefully cooked. The only disruptions are when she massages my stomach and breasts and for a moment I feel like dough being readied to make a loaf. To be fair though, she does ask first if you want these places massaged. The music is unobtrusive: some piano, some harp snippets and some extended bird song.
When it’s all sadly over, an hour later, my body is tingling and I feel like I’ve grown a new skin. Who needs tui na when you’ve got Thai!
The author was kindly hosted for this treatment by Villa.Like.
Villa.Like is open daily from 10am to 3am and has three locations in Taipei.
- Near Zhongshan MRT. 97, Zhongshan N Rd, Sec 1. Tel: 02-2511-2727
- Near Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT. 6, Lane 27, Renai Rd, Sec 4. Tel: 02-2781-5591
- Near Liuzhangli MRT. 9, Lane 171, Anhe Rd, Sec 2. Tel: 02-2732-7936
http://www.villa-like.com.tw (Chinese only).