Arriving at the fabled Mandarin Oriental Spa in Paris is an event in itself. One strolls through one of the most expensive addresses in Paris: the Rue Cambon (home of Coco Chanel’s first dress studio) to reach an entrance bookended by a top-and-tailed footman and doorman. Immediately, you have shaken off the buzz and blaring rumbles of Parisienne traffic, and are transported to a slower-paced but highly-polished old-world of elegance and service. A white-gloved butler ushers me to a private elevator, taking me to a floor entirely dedicated to the Mandarin Spa. Before me is a dome chamber adorned with filigree and filled with orchids, a surround sound of chimes intelligently follows me as I make my way to the reception.
Before I can whisper a word, my coat and scarf are whisked off my frame, and I am served a fragrant infusion tea whilst seated upon velvet cushions. A unique questionnaire is placed in my hands, asking of my state of mind, body, mood and lifestyle, with a diagram where I can indicate where there is pain or tension in my musculature. This is all in preparation for the ‘Oriental Massage Experience’, a one hour and twenty minute procedure where, in true Eastern tradition, the therapist determines whether your body is in a current state of yin or yang: allowing everything from the intensity of pressure, choice of oils, lighting and type of technique to be completely bespoke for you.
My heart stops as I am received in my own individual suite, of which there are seven (with two reserved for couples), each with their own private sauna and steam room, as well as changing area and massage station. It feels like home. An Egyption-cotton gown, slippers, and swimwear are waiting for me. Be warned: once you enter, you will not want to leave. After a frolic in the tranquil swimming pool, designed by Sybille de Margerie in iridescent opal and coral, I bathe in the private eucalyptus steam room to loosen the muscles, and prepare myself for the main treatment.
The word luxury doesn’t quite seem to do justice to the experience here. Whilst every aspect of the massage is scrutinised to the most microscopic detail, and the quality of the methods are steeped in ancient Eastern expertise and practises - including Ayurveda - the word that comes to mind when describing the experience is Royal. Fine oils are poured and worked onto every part of the body, not an inch of tension is missed, pressure changes with how the muscles respond, and the Indian head massage, along with the elements of reflexology, banish the most lingering of anxieties to the ether. The minute a limb is exposed from the wonderfully under-heated bed (with custom heat levels, of course) another steaming hot towel is placed upon it. It is no surprise that the hotel has retained its distinction for being one of Paris’s finest ‘palace-hotels’ in a system that only Europe's cultural capital can call its own.
I glide off of the massage table as a new man, with a cool herbal infusion and a bowl of fresh fruit (based on my yin and yang, naturally) waiting for me. Basking out into the Paris evening, I am light as a feather in my Nike sneakers: the two hours of my experience at the Mandarin Oriental feeling as if I had been away at a retreat for two weeks. Now, only to return to this piece of heaven in the City of Light (and love) with my Mr Right.