Kneads of the weary: Herborist Spa opens in Sanlitun
Herbs that are used to make masks. Photo: Guo Yingguang
Herborist, a renowned Chinese cosmetics company based in Shanghai, brings its Chinese-style spa to Sanlitun this week, offering a more relaxing form of recreation in the Village.
With curiosity leading the way, I crossed the entrance of Herborist Spa, where the refreshing jade-green tones will definitely change people's stereotype of what a TCM-themed experience should look like. Mind you, that doesn't mean traditional influences don't make a strong showing: a wooden figure marked with acupuncture points stands surrounded by several bottles of strange-looking herbs.
Choosing the appropriate treatment is a bit of a task, so consider consulting with the assistants for advice. After a comprehensive introduction, I chose the two most-recommended treatments, a spinal massage and yizhichan neck-shoulder set.
After changing into slippers, I was introduced to the second floor by masseur Li Jun, where I followed instructions to take a shower to ensure total relaxation before the spinal massage began. Helpful, but I still winced when Li's fingers touched my back, and it took several minutes before my tension started to fade away.
A part of the massage involves kneading herbal essential oils into the skin. When Li's fingers passed over the acupuncture points (jingluo) of my spine I could sense a mixed feeling of pain, stinging and swelling. But for all that complication, when she finished only the feeling of relaxation remained. Li explained that these different feelings in fact reflect the status of the body. "If some points sting, it is possible that part of your body was already tired and really needed a rest," Li said.
Maybe it was the essential oil taking effect, but at the end of my 90-minute spinal massage, my only feeling was that my body had turned to dough. So when the yizhichan part started, I almost fell asleep, even though the masseur was really going to town. It was only when I was tenderly awakened by Li that I realized what a great choice I'd made.
As I changed back into my shoes and prepared to leave, I paused to chat with a new customer who was also consulting with the staff as to what therapy to receive. Faustine Quille, from France, has stayed in Beijing to study Chinese for a year and a half. "It was my first time to try Herborist Spa, but I know their cosmetics products in the shops. That's why I trust them," she said.
Indeed, it looks like Herborist Spa is set to expand the TCM spa market in Beijing. Sanlitun Herborist store manager Sun Jinming told Lifestyle, "Beijing is the third largest market for Herborist cosmetic products, after Shanghai and Henan Province."
Address: No. 9 Building, The Village, Sanlitun, Chaoyang district