Blessed as I am to have blissed out at some of the world’s top luxury spas, I find a truly restorative massage trumps all the scented candles, mood music and rose petals in the world. Without a second thought, I would trade an all-day “spa journey” at most hotels for an hour on the treatment table at Siem Reap’s village-house Daley Massage every time. Similarly, my secret jet-lag cure whenever I return home to Hong Kong is a lady called Elaine, who rocks up with her portable massage table and some baby oil. And while visiting my parents in Los Angeles recently I discovered a new concept spa that combines a really good knead with just the right amount of pamper and glam.
The Now borrows the convenient drop-in style of LA’s blow-dry bars, while its soothing, raw-wood-meets-whitewash interior instantly reminds me of the Beverly Hills’ mani-pedi mecca Olive & June. But upon entering the Moment Room, aka the treatment area, I am surprised to see eight semi-private areas (first picture) separated by nothing more than curtains, albeit of thick, chic neutral-hued linen. As I disrobe for the deep-tissue, organic-oil Traveller massage – which I pick over the gentler, Swedish-inspired Now signature rubdown – I can’t help but wonder how many mobile phones will ring during my 50-minute treatment (all massages priced at $35 for 25 minutes, $60 for 50 minutes and $90 for 80 minutes).
Not a ping, beep or ring goes off as Luca, my strong-armed therapist, strokes away the flight-induced knots around my neck and shoulders. If the layout reminds me of a Bangkok massage parlour, the details elevate the ambience considerably, from the polished concrete floor lined with shaggy Berber rugs to the pitched, double-height ceiling with its thoughtfully calming skylight. I am doubly impressed when Luca manages to guide me sotto voce through a breathing technique that allows him to knead even deeper along my upper thigh.
These 50 transportive minutes end much too quickly, I conclude as I ease off the ultra-padded massage bed within my candlelit, makeshift cabana. Luca waits in the hallway with a glass of lemon water and leads me into the curtain-free Journey Room, where he explains that beside The Now’s five main horizontal massages, another four types of 25-minute hand and feet massage are delivered to fully clothed clients in this communal, clearly very social space (second picture). I am hardly listening, however, as I mentally scroll through the following few days’ schedule to find the next 80-minute window when I might sneak away from mum and dad to take refuge here.