Image: Jay Yeo
November 26 2011
Part: 1 | 2
Tucked away on the border between Paddington and Notting Hill, a few metres from the venerated Porchester Baths, is one of London’s greatest secrets. So good is she, I have spent weeks deliberating whether I should write about her. For it has taken me many years to find this, the holy grail of massages.
I have endured countless hippies and healers, insipid ticklers, the chatterers and the sweaters. Worst of all was the man with the seven-day arm stubble, sandpapering away on my back. But I feel honour-bound to share my discovery, even if it means being relegated to a waiting list next time I phone for an appointment.
It all started a few years back, when I met the full-time wellness consultant for Britain’s second-most-loved queen, Sir Elton John, who has a reputation for an obsession with health and treatments and unwavering standards. In short, I had stumbled across The Oracle.
“Can you recommend a good masseuse in London?” I asked in a tone of hushed awe.
“Absolutely. Chanita. She is brilliant and looks after some seriously important and demanding clients, so I’m sure you will do just fine.”
When I first visited Genesis, I was confronted with run-down premises and what appeared to be a lifetime’s worth of hoarding. On the shelves, peering through the exotic fake flowers, were gilt Buddhas, temples and bobble-cat dolls so tightly packed the place resembled a Thai bazaar.
Despite a recent shop fit, the parlour leaves much to be desired. There is only one room on the ground floor that is half decent. So if luxurious surroundings are a core requirement, you may want to move on. But if you can overlook the cosmetics, you are in for a treat, albeit at times a tear-inducing one.
A booming Chanita opens the door. “Where you been? No see you looong time. You gain weigh and, looh, you have many cellullii.” (Thais don’t really do Ts.)
“I know, I know. I promise not to leave it so long between visits in future,” I declare.
Chanita is trained in a full range of massages, from deep-tissue sports to Thai, and often uses homemade poultices that smell like Thai chicken curry. She has provided me relief from a whole host of ailments, from “Blackberry Back” (back hunched forward, tight shoulders and crooked neck) to a tight hamstring from forgetting to stretch on a run, and a crooked neck from trying to sleep in BA premium economy.
She has a unique ability to quickly diagnose my problem, often detecting that something is wrong before I realise it myself. She then works her magic by adapting and combining different styles of massage. She may start with a Thai massage, bending you like a pretzel and pulling on your fingers, toes and ears, but then she will stop and focus on your neck and other trouble areas, applying a totally different therapy.
Her style is authentic, her good energy contagious and her intentions – which stem from her devout Buddhist faith – true. She thinks nothing of getting up at the crack of dawn on the day of your visit to buy a special herb at the Thai market to put in your tea, or a bespoke poultice, or a remedy for you to take home.
Today Chanita is spending 45 minutes on leg shaping and cellulite annihilation. The first step of the massage is “pinch and pull”. My thighs are pinched and tugged hard to lift the layers of fat just under the skin, in order to break down the fat and destroy the links that bind it. Next is “pinch, pull and wiggle”, which is more than a little uncomfortable, especially as I suffer from water retention. The final phase of this torture is “kneading”. My thighs are rolled almost to the point where I feel Chanita is rubbing the fat into my bloodstream.
THE BOTTOM LINE
It sounds painful, and it is, but this massage – like all Chanita’s massages, really works. Other therapists at Genesis have been trained by her – but if you want the best, this pint-sized bit of brilliance is your girl.
Spa Junkie pays for all her own travel, treatments and accommodation.