LONDON, England (CNN) -- What is it: A hot stone massage.
The May Fair Spa is located in May Fair hotel in Central London and bills itself as a sanctuary in the heart of the city. The spa offers a range of treatments for visitors and guests with a relaxation room and wet area to enjoy before and after the treatment.
I had heard from my colleague, Dean, that hot stone massages could be an unpleasant experience, with the stones being a bit of a gimmick, so I thought I'd give it a trial run to see if he was being too cynical.
The masseur did a great job of explaining the massage and how the stones worked. The stones used are basalt and came all the way from Australia. They are chosen for their ability to ret
ain heat and transfer that heat into the skin and muscles.
The masseur started by lining the table with large hot stones that followed the line of my spine. I lay on them. They felt delicious - sort of like a hard hot water bottle. She then put a hot pebble on my forehead while heavier stones were placed on each shoulder. When the stones were placed on my abdomen. I started to feel very, very sleepy.
Then she started doing something to my leg -- with the stone! She was rubbing the stone with vigor along my shin. Weird. Stop being so weird! But I didn't say it because it felt quite nice actually. The pointy end of the stone was sort of sliding around of m
y bones with enough pressure to make me wince.
The hot stones were used like tools by the masseur to really dig into the knotty bits of tissue. While after the massage they were placed on the back, chest and shoulders to soothe the muscles.
Worst bit: The pressure applied was quite intense (this was by request) and at the worst moments the hot stones felt more like instruments of torture than inanimate objects.
The (very good) masseur warned me that a hot stone massage increase circulation and that could
result in a headache. Going back to work after the massage was difficult, but I slept soundly that night.
Best bits: The masseur had smaller hot stones that she placed between each toe. Nice one, said my toes. She placed stones in the palm of each hand and did something to my ear lobes with another stone, a sort of rubbery, warm thing. The ridge of a stone skidded along the top of my brows like a pebble on the water.
Verdict: The sensations were strange, but the masseur knew what she was doing, and she used the stones to great effect.
How long does it take: 75 minutes
Contact details: May Fair Spa, Radisson Edwardian May Fair Hotel, Stratton Street Mayfair, London W1A 2AN