You’ve got your usual suspects: Thai massage, Balinese massage, aromatherapy, lymphatic even, but have you ever tried a cleansing ritual in a Turkish Hammam? And in Malaysia too?
The opening of Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Damansara brought plenty of hype towards its spa, the world renowned So SPA. Its So Hammam Ritual almost instantly became the talk of the town. The ritual is said to the be the oldest surviving bath traditions in the world, dating back the 1450 when the Turk Ottomans merged Roman bathing traditions with their own, tweaking it to adhere to the rules of Islam. They named it Hammam, which translates to “the spreader of warmth”. In its genesis, only men were allowed in the Hammam but things eventually changed and in fact, it was even grounds for divorce if a husband did not allow his wife to visit a Hammam.
With no need for dramatics at So Spa, there are separate male and female private Hammams. The essence of the ritual is simple: steam room, scrub, rinse, repeat. And so it begins with five long minutes in the steam room, where it goes without saying, is very steamy. A book to read would be nice albeit impossible, so you could try lying down, sitting up right and meditating, or just staring blankly at the glass door waiting for the masseuse to let you out.
And when you do get out, the shift in temperature hits you like a cool gush of breeze, making you temporarily forget how hot it can get until it’s time to step inside once more. But first, a wash with a nice eucalyptus-scented soap. There are some ‘awkward’ bits of the treatment that you should (or hopefully) get used to by the second steam room, scrub, rinse. You won’t need to lift a finger to cleanse your body, but you will need to lift your arms at shoulder level so that the masseuse can do it for you. She washes you as you stand up, scrubs you down as you lay on a marble bed, applies a mud body wrap, and rinses you off.
You’ll get the hang of it, especially when you start to feel how much softer your once-dry, rough skin is getting. You can even see your dead skin rubbing off your skin as she scrubs your entire body with a Kassa glove. It’s oddly satisfying.
Cue another round of steam room followed by a quick rinse, and you’re back on the marble bed, ready for whatever comes next to help you get glowing. And what happened next felt so silky and peculiar, we had to open our eyes to see the masseuse gliding what looked like a pillowcase covered in bubbles across our legs and then the whole body. There isn’t actually a pillow inside, and demonstrates how she twists it to trap air and voila: a foam party for one. Our eyes stayed open in amusement as she covered all the bases.
Finding it hard to relax at this point? Thankfully, you’ll get a quick face wash (makeup + steam = disaster. We recommend turning up au natural) followed by a full body massage in one of the treatment rooms. We will say this, the massage, which uses Argan oil, was the best we’ve ever had, and we’d come back just for that alone.
And with the new year, it just might be the reset you need to feel energised and ready. Ridiculously smooth skin doesn’t hurt either.
So SPA Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Damansara, No. 6 – Jalan Damanlela, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur. For reservations and enquiries, call +603 2720 6688