On one of Beijing’s busiest pedestrian streets sits the Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing. Its situation at the heart of China’s capital, close to top attractions like the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, makes it popular with domestic and international travellers alike seeking a luxe urban retreat. Kitted out with all the wellness facilities a health-conscious traveller could hope for, it’s an urban retreat for those seeking a bit of balance on their urban escape. Compare Retreats Editor and Chief Content Officer Rebecca Cairns takes an afternoon out from exploring the city to unwind in The Spa and experience the Oriental Essence Massge.
The Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing is fully equipped to offer a five-star experience to wellness travellers from around the world. The 25-metre lap pool offers relief from the summer heat, with a glass ceiling that bathes the room in natural light, while the state-of-the-art fitness centre boasts unique equipment like the SKILLRUN treadmill.
The Spa’s extensive treatment menu caters to all, from dedicated Gentlemen’s Therapies to massages for mums-to-be. Combining a variety of holistic health therapies from acupressure to aromatherapy, the menu of massages and facials also includes programmes like Mandarin Oriental’s signature Digital Detox experience.
Before the treatment began, I was given a form to outline my preferences, any specific areas to focus, illness or injuries that could affect the treatment, and even whether I had been experiencing mental, emotional or physical stress and my mood on that particular day. After a jasmine tea, I was shown to the treatment room and left to lie down on the bed.
The massage table at the Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing Spa deserves a side note. Completely flat, it looked like it had the potential to be very uncomfortable. Lying down on it, the bed was certainly firm but had much more give and support than I’d anticipated. This is because of the small stones or clay that actually make up the surface of the bed – these naturally moved apart and retained a lot of warmth, giving the bed a heated affect. My masseuse, Lily, further rearranged these stones at the start of the session to give more support where necessary.
Using a custom blend of oils, the Oriental Essence Massage is designed to relieve tension through employing a fusion of techniques from Traditional Chinese Medicine. This treatment played a lot on the idea of heat, which is particularly common in TCM therapies. The table was heated, and heated pads and towels were used throughout the session to help relax muscles. Lily’s pressure was firm and deep, though she checked in to ensure that it was comfortable.
Starting on the back and working down the body, the massage sequence was fairly standard. What set the experience apart was extra-sensory stimulus: low coloured mood lighting in blues and reds, the bell used to begin and end the session, and the massage table itself, which while I was lying on my back and Lily was massaging my feet, used an automated massager on my back. It is quite a noisy mechanism though, so if your goal is relaxation or external sounds might ruin your zen, it’s probably worth asking them not to turn it on, or to turn up the music.
Particularly in the summer, Beijing is a hot and exhausting place so it was great to be able to take time out to relax while still in the middle of the city—the deep pressure was excellent, particularly to relax the muscles in my back after my flight.
The spa is a beautiful space, and the hotel has a much more boutique feel than some of the other larger Mandarin Oriental properties. Make sure to leave time for a swim before your treatment, and if you want to treat yourself post-massage, enjoy a drink on the terrace of the MO Bar after 5pm to enjoy sunset views over the Forbidden City.