Have you ever struggled to stay awake during a massage? I’m told it’s quite commonplace. Not for me; as you may have gathered from previous pieces, I babble on to my detriment and will often emerge from a massage with slightly softened muscles and a whole lot of autobiographical information about my masseuse/masseur. It is in part for this reason that I favour a vice-like grip during massage – if I’m not going to kick back, I can at least really get my money’s worth by making sure kinks are worked out of my muscles.
Casting my eye around the Angelica Retreat on Islington High Street, there were scant signs that this spa would evoke an unusually relaxed state in me. It all looked quite straightforward: an upstairs white-washed wood-panelled, breezy-looking room with a reception and pedicure stations and downstairs area comprising treatment rooms.
But boy what was to follow. Bliss. In the purest sense of the word. I was booked in for an hour-long REN massage. I was truly awake for all of five minutes. After that, I was a jelly-like mass that omitted the odd snore on the (eminently comfortable) bed. Even recalling the massage sends me into a tingling, delighted state. It wasn’t just that the touch was remedial (it was), or that the masseuse addressed my aches (she did), rather that, on top of all that, she had The Touch. This was impressive. Those with the gift of The Touch – that extra something that separates the ordinary massage from the extraordinary – are few and far between.
‘We are all about the quality of staff – all our masseuses were carefully chosen and went though a lot of training before we opened last year,’ South African Managing Director, Izak van Niekerk, told me upstairs as I rhapsodised about the massage (my chattiness seems to only subdue during somnolence). ‘We wanted to create a retreat in bustling Angel where people can come to relax.’ You have most decidedly succeeded, Mr. van Niekerk.