Blow the budget to bargain basement:
The Sentosa Resort & Spa
2 Bukit Manis Road
T: (+65) 6371 1288
Billed as being one of the world’s top 10 urban day spas, this Sentosa haven does make you feel as if you have left the hustle and bustle of the city behind you. Incredible massages – and so they should be: prices are around $200 – that leave you feeling pummeled, healed, cared for and relaxed. Try their 1.5 hour ‘Travel Tonic’ whether you are jet-lagged or not. Facials on the other hand are disappointingly normal (and around the same price). The Garden Café is all about the (not-at-all pretentiously named) notion of ‘Conscious Dining’, serving up slightly fussy food, which is pretty pricey for what you get. To their credit, they do serve wine and – gasp – crisps. BTW: Skip the treatments and pay $40 to use the spa’s facilities which are great (mud bath, pools, hot tubs, flotation pools and more). Or join the Tanglin Club and pay 20% less for Spa Botanica treatments at the Tanglin branch – guests can go too. Other downsides are you feel a little bit like a tourist when you are here – only forgivable if you ARE actually a tourist. Their ‘Women Only’ side is great if you want to escape here on your own or with girlfriends. Weekends are best avoided though and tend to be horribly busy. Too couple-y for single men to come here alone, comfortably.
Opening Times: 10am-10pm (last appointment at 8.30) daily
St Regis Hotel
29 Tanglin Road
T: (+65) 6506 6896
Highly rated, this is pure luxe and acres of marble. Prices are punchy ($180++ for an hours customised massage, which includes foot softening paraffin wax) but delivery is perfect. Their signature ‘Warm Jade Stone Massage’ says it all: not a humble heated river pebble in sight. Fit for an Emperor. Great day spa facilities that you can enjoy pre or post treatment (there’s a sauna, steamroom, outdoor temperate pool and indoor heated plunge pool plus hot marble wave loungers) and, what’s more…..it’s in town. At the end of your treatment you’re transfered to the chill out room where you are served a pot of TWG tea (choose from green or black) and a delectable selection of chocs. BTW: Listed in the Conde Nast Traveller ‘Hot List 2008’ as being amongst the top 76 (such a random number) spas in the world….whilst all these accolades and awards can get pretty meaningless, this one counts. Oh, and one more thing worth mentioning is that in our newly relaxed state, we managed to leave a socking great big diamond ring behind. Within 10 minutes they had rung to say they’d found it and would hold it at their reception. Phew. BTW: The Jade Stone Massage is best enjoyed by those who like light massages. The Custom Blend Massage is incredible and one of the best we’ve ever had. Really. You can control the pressure of this massage so it’s suitable for all, whether you are a ‘press-that-knot-til-I-bruise’ freak or a ‘stroke-me-to-sleep’ person.
Opening Times: 9am-10pm daily (last appointment at 9pm)
1 The Knolls
T: (+65) 6591 5023
Follow the jumping salmon to find the Auriga spa, tucked away at the bottom of the Capella. Very slick, this is a spa you could send your husband to without him panicking that it might be weird/ misconstrued/ too girly. You get the sensation of relief, having left the island to get here, matched with impeccable service and an incredible technique. Not a huge amount of natural light (boys don’t care about this though), so if you want to sit and read outside, pre/post treatment, you have to ask to use the hotel infinity pool (it’s not a given that you can and depends on how busy they are). Prices start from $140 for a 60 minute massage, $135 for a hour’s facial – cheaper than Spa Botanica. If you feel peckish – proper club sarnies for boys can be had at The Knolls restaurant which is open all day (no over styled, fancy-pants Spa Botanica food here) and girls can opt for something healthier (if they want to). Food is really reasonably priced which makes the whole experience much more wallet-friendly than it is further down the road.
Opening Times: 8am-10pm daily. Treatments available from 10am-10pm
TRADITIONAL JAVANESE MASSAGE HUT
306 River Valley Road
T: (+65) 6733 7727
Good value (with a package, read great value – around $40 for an hour’s massage) coupled with a great technique. You probably drove past it loads of times before it moved across the road (and thought it looked like an easy-joint: the red neon light and shop front window did it no favours). Admittedly of the no fills variety vs. the spas listed above, rooms are spic and span and utterly acceptable. You have a choice of oils (herbal or olive – no cheap perfumed oils here) and they really do listen to which you select. They must be doing something right, as they’ve been here for 7 years and have five other branches scattered across the island – see website for more details. Parking is possible directly in front of their shop, with room enough for 2 cars. BTW: The Traditional Balinese Massage place at Mohamed Sultan Road is a poor imitation.
Opening Times: 1pm-10.30pm daily; 11am-11pm Sat & Sun
Ask for: Zu if you want a really firm massage that leaves no knot unpummeled
MT SAPOLA SPA
Tanglin Mall (#01-26/27)
163 Tanglin Road
T: (+65) 6836 6818
An oasis of calm within Tanglin Mall, step through their door and feel as if you have entered in to another world. With the atmosphere of a day-spa, their technique is excellent and oils beautifully blended. Be clear about the type of massage you like though – there are a couple of therapist who only do deep or very deep tissue manipulation (but divine if that’s what you like).
Opening Times: 11am-8pm Mon-Sat; 10am-7pm Sun
11 Upper Dickson Road
T: (+65) 6299 0642
An Ayurvedic centre in the heart of little India that has been here for 3 years. Spotlessly clean and with therapists that really know their stuff, come here for an authentic Ayurvedic massage that won’t break the bank (from $45 for 45 minutes). Go with the flow and try their facial tension relieving ‘shirodhara’ – the warm and constant flow of oil on the forehead – or their vigorous full body massage – incredible for beating jet lag but does leave you feeling slightly slapped around and oily, a bit like a prata being kneaded, thrown and banged about on a hard surface. But this is nothing against Amrita, this is what ayurvedic massage is like. The latter is not for the fainthearted: be prepared to whip off your knix in full view of the therapist and replace them with freshly sealed paper ones (you will be pleased you did as it gets pretty oily). The usual modesty protecting sheets we invariably cling to on the massage table are rather few and far between here – there were some beautifully clean towels in heat sealed bags, but they remained in their bags – but the whole experience is somehow mind alteringly holistic and you feel pummeled, healed and relaxed all in one trip.
Opening Times: 9am-9pm Mon-Sat; 9am-3pm Sun
Tanglin Shopping Centre (#B1-08)
19 Tanglin Road
T: (+65) 6733 0151
Great for a traditional Chinese body massage. Don’t expect it to be relaxing but if you are seriously knotty, head here to get sorted out. Great at getting rid of muscle tension…they let you choose between male or female therapists. Lai (their only male masseuse) is great if your shoulders are up around your ears and you need serious pummeling (girls, fear not, he’s very discreet and leaves the room when it’s time to turn over), or otherwise we highly recommend Xiao Fang (lady masseuse). What’s more, it’s great value at $54 an hour (prices have now increased to $60 an hour – but ask nicely and they may let you pay the original $54 price, which is extended to loyal customers only). They also do foot reflexology which involves a Chinese herbal hot pack as well as the usual foot soak and shoulder massage. The best news is that you get to lie down on a proper, clean bed and snooze vs sitting in those nasty and all too prevalent leather recliners. There are only 2 beds available, so it’s worth booking. Foot reflexology starts at $45 for 60 minutes. BTW: Their reflex room is not really geared up with reading lights, so don’t bother bringing your book….sleep instead. If you are a wimp and prefer more of a foot rub to reflexology, ask for Miriam. BTW: Huge problem with live music coming from the neighbouring bar…they start playing every night from about 8.30pm/9pm-11pm. Make sure you don’t go during these hours! On the other hand, Lai’s massages – which tend to be peppered with chat about why you are so knotty etc – aren’t ones to send you to sleep anyway. So if you’re good at blocking out background noise and not letting it bother you, you won’t really care.
Opening Times: 11am-11pm daily
283 South Bridge Road
T: (+65) 6224 4911
Very much belonging to the ‘etc’ part of this section. We’ve always wanted to try this but until now have never found the time, but this is a scream to do with guests after a tour of China town and lunch at Mr Wong’s esteemed noodle joint La Zhou La Mian (see EAT ME, DRINK ME Local) just round the corner. Come here and plunge your feet in to an ionised foot bath and watch the colour of the water change according to how toxic you are. Quite scary (my water was black at the end, with fizzy bits) and whether or not it really detoxes you, it certainly feels as if it has. Good hangover cure (it could just be that the noodles we ate for lunch beforehand were delicious and did the trick all on their own) and a peaceful way to spend half an hour. Costs around $30 per person. Post treatment, pop next door to Tong Heng for one of their legendary egg tarts (see BUY ME, Groceries & Goodies)
Opening Times: 10.30am-8.30pm Mon-Sat. Closed Sun
FUJI FOOT REFLEXOLOGY
Orchard Towers (#01-19)
400 Orchard Road
T: (+65) 6235 7990 or (+65) 8180 3883 or (+65) 9752 7308
Brilliant reflex joint; just how we like it – not too painful but very restorative and healing and they touch on all the right spots. But never mind all that, what we love is that they also do a home service – get your feet massaged while you watch a DVD in the comfort of your own home. Lush! It’s around $65 per hour for a home visit and they’ll charge you the cost of the cab to come and go, at cost.
Opening Times: 10am-11pm daily