Sometimes, the stars just shine down on you and smile. How else could you explain a chain of events that ends up with me getting a chocolate massage at a posh Amsterdam hotel at extremely short notice and only hours before my flight home?
It all started when I was bored on my flight over and ended up scanning the inflight magazine out of sheer desperation. Inside, I found a review of a chocolate massage experience at the Grand Hotel Amrath. When, an hour later, I passed by the same hotel on the way to my destination, I decided fate had indeed spoken. Two and a half days later, tired and sporting somewhat of a respectable hangover, I stepped through the doors of the very same hotel to receive the very same massage experience.
The Amrath is a 5 star hotel overlooking a canal not far from the Amsterdam central station. The building is beautiful on the outside, though I must say on the inside it didn’t look like any 5 star hotel I’d seen before. It was a bit drab, with traditional style wood panelled walls, dark carpets and stone floors. Apparently, the building used to be the head office of a shipping company, which would explain the decor choices. The staff were all very sweet and friendly, though, and directed me down a very Dutch narrow spiral staircase to the Wellness spa, where I was to have my massage.
Here, again, the view was not spectacular, reminding me more of the sort of functional spa / gym areas you find in business hotels. The treatment itself area was small but impeccably clean and the place was all but empty, it being Monday morning.
I was greeted by the friendly Claudia from Revive, the company that provides the spa services for the hotel. After changing into my robe and slippers, I was left in the care of my masseur, the very tall and lovely Ian (originally from England but now local). Having not come to Amsterdam expecting to be reviewing a massage, I didn’t have my proper camera with me, but I managed to snap a darkish picture of Ian and the massage table. It was a very cheery sight after a long weekend, that’s for sure!
But what about the treatment?
The massage oil did not look very chocolatey at all, but Ian explained that it does indeed contain cocoa, albeit refined. There was certainly no mistaking the smell of it, which was incredibly strong, rich and chocolatey, but more like rich hot chocolate or milk chocolate rather than dark chocolate mousse. I resisted to urge to drink it down, because I was assured the massage experience would be worth it.
It was warm and felt really lovely on the skin – rich, but not too heavy. Once warmed up even more by skin contact the effect was even stronger than before. At some point during the treatment I must have gotten used to the smell, as I thought it had disappeared never to return. It actually did return later on and stayed on my skin all day. I could definitely smell it quite strongly, so I’m sure my fellow passengers on my flight home could smell it too. I hope they like chocolate.
The massage itself was seriously good. Powerful but gentle at the same time. This seemed to be the main focus of the treatment, rather than an excuse for being covered in chocolate. Ian the masseur certainly knows his stuff and talked me through the benefits of massage in general and massage using chocolate in particular. The official line is that apart from the oil itself being good for the skin (my skin was noticeably soft for days) chocolate has such fond associations for most of us that it’s hard not to be relaxed when smelling like you’re covered in it. I’m sure that’s something we can all agree on.
I felt extremely relaxed and blissed out after my massage and the effect on my muscles was quite pronounced even after I lugged my bag on a cramped plane back to London. I got the impression that rather than be a purely indulgent treatment, this was essentially a “serious” treatment – an effective massage with the added twist of being chocolate scented, to add another element to the whole effect.
At the end of the treatment, I was offered chocolate tea, rather than a hot chocolate. This, like the massage itself was healthier than the usual hot chocolate you might get but it was light, delicately spicy and refreshing. Considering the massage ended up being quite a detox for me, I felt this was quite appropriate in this case.
If you are hoping to simply get dipped in chocolate above all else and see the rest of the stuff as secondary, this treatmen is probably not the one for you. You can get ones that do actually involve being covered in actual chocolate sauce (see my review of the Karin Herzog facial treatment, for example). On the other hand, if you want an extremely effective massage treatment that also has you smelling like chocolate both during and after the event then this is definitely it.