After 5 months in Europe, I was craving someone else’s hands on my body. You see, while living in Bali and while traveling in Southeast Asia, I became accustomed to regular massages. Once in Europe, though, massages became a little out of our weekly price range. I was counting down the days until our arrival in Bangkok, and new exactly where to find our perfect Thai massage. But, even before that date came, we had a welcome surprise – the chance to experience a luxury spa in India. Twice.
Becoming Accustomed to Massages
In Bali, we had our regular spa in Ubud, Cantika Zest. It was a little out of town, requiring a motorbike to reach. Because it was hard to reach, though, these massage beds were generally filled by people in the know.
Cantika offered the best, and most reliable massages in Ubud. We were there so often that we had our preferred massage girls, Juni and Sang Ayu. The best part about Cantika: the price. Massages ran about $15 an hour. It was a little more expensive than many of the tourist focused massage shops in town, but we paid for the quality, and the reliability.
There were some downsides to getting a massage at Cantika. The grounds were lovely, with beds set inside open air, Balinese style huts. They were surrounded by the tropical forests. But, that meant, noise from the outdoors and neighboring rooms. It also meant occasional mosquito bites. But, for Ubud, it was pretty luxurious. When in Europe, I missed Cantika. I missed the cheap, but reliable massages. I thought I would have to wait until Bangkok to get back into the massage groove.
Spa By JW – a Luxury Spa in India
During our four night stay at the JW Marriott Mumbai, we managed to squeeze in a lot of amazing Indian food, and three day trips around Mumbai. Most of the time we were there, though, I felt I was still trying to recuperate from our 3 am arrival in the city. Between the food and the touring and the jet lag, my body ached.
When the hotel offered us an opportunity to test its Spa by JW, we jumped at the chance. In fact, in order to squeeze it in, we agreed to an 8pm appointment. We thought that might be a little late, but the Spa by JW is open 24 hours a day, to accommodate passengers from the nearby Mumbai airport who arrive at all hours of the night. Like we did.
We started in the relaxation room, sipping herbal tea, in our bathrobe and slippers. Then, our massage therapists escorted us to the beautifully appointed room. Unlike in Bali, where our environment was take it or leave it, and often included receiving massages in a room with a giant wasps’ nest in the corner, here everything was customized. The girls asked us about the temperature, the lighting, and even the music, to ensure we were completely comfortable. There were no mosquitos in sight.
The one spa experience we had during our trip through Europe was not good, not good at all. It seemed the massage therapists were untrained and the entire experience was uncomfortable. This luxury spa in India was entirely the opposite. These girls knew EXACTLY what they were dong. I swear my girl had the hands of an angel. I quickly drifted off into massage heaven.
I can’t explain a lot of the specifics of the massage treatment. But, that’s how a spa treatment should be. The one thing I keenly remember, though, was the sheet we laid upon. It felt like it was about 10,000 thread count. It was so soft to the touch, with a silkiness I’m not used to. When I wasn’t off in massage la la land, I was quietly rubbing my fingers over the massage bed sheet. I couldn’t help myself. It was that soft. The rest of the treatment was a blur, as it should be. That sheet though, that was pure luxury and the stuff of dreams.
Quan Spa – Another Luxury Spa in India
Less than 24 hours later, we arrived at the Quan Spa at the JW Marriott New Delhi Aerocity. Even the entrance to the spa was an experience, with mood lighting and indoor flower pond. I immediately started to relax once again, after our flight to Delhi.
Although we anticipated another aromatherapy massage, like at the Spa by JW, the manager offered us something more unique. One of the specialities of the Quan Spa are the traditional Indian Ayurvedic treatments. Ayurveda is a traditional form of healing popular in India.
Our massage started similar enough to our prior one. The massage therapists washed our feet in warm water sprinkled with flower petals. They escorted us to the table, and started by applying warm compresses all over. Then, similar to the Kati Basti massage I had at the Kush Spa in Ubud, the Abhyanga Spice Bundle Massage involved oil. A lot of oil. More than your typical aromatherapy massage. The goal is for the heated oil to penetrate the skin as part of the therapy treatment.
Even though I felt well lubed by the end, I still thought the Quan Spa did a fabulous job. My only regret was that because we had the oil treatment, the luxurious sheet was hidden under a soft towel. I miss that sheet. I wonder if they would mail one to me. Now, that would be the best customer service ever from a luxury spa in India.
We were hosted by Marriott in India, but all opinions are, as always, my own. Spa treatments at both properties start at only $60.
For more information about India, see our India Travel Guide, for information on accommodations, what to eat, and tours to book.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new Food and Drink Destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.