Five unusual spa treatments from around the world

From the slightly unusual to the downright crazy, we explore the weirdest spa treatments — and their tamer alternatives — to try in 2019

By Katie Reich-Storer
Published 8 Apr 2019, 23:50 BST
Five unusual spa treatments from around the world
Photograph by Getty Images

Venik Massage
Particularly popular in Russia. After being smothered in oil, you lie naked on a wooden bench in a sauna while two therapists hit your back with oak or birch leaves and branches. Head to the Sanduny Bath House in Moscow for a go.
Why? Fans say it boosts circulation and prevents ageing of the skin.
Alternative: Aqua Sana (nationwide) offers a deep-tissue massage using varying sizes of bamboo stalks.

Chocolate wrap
Get smothered in a chocolate and mud mixture and then wrapped in towels or foil. Retreat Medispa offers a number of chocolate-rich treatments.
Why? Cocoa, an anti-oxidant, is said to firm skin and reduce cellulite.
Alternative: A sugar body exfoliation at Spa Experience (nationwide).

Snake massage
The 'Snake Priestess' at Dreaming Goddess in New York offers massages where boa constrictors are free to slither all over the body.
Why? Thought to increase circulation and stimulate those nerves that release endorphins and oxytocin. It's also said to help people overcome their fear of snakes.
Alternative: For a reptile twist, opt for a snake venom facial, using a synthetically created elixir that mimics the effects of real snake venom — firmer skin. Try it at Clinicbe (London).

Crude oil bath
This treatment is said to date back to the sixth century in Azerbaijan. You sit in a bath full of Naftalan oil — a particular grade of crude oil — then a therapist uses a scraping brush to clean you up.
Why? Thought to help skin disorders and kill viruses. However, not everyone agrees this treatment is safe, so do some research beforehand.
Alternative: Thai Square Spa in London offers a milk bath — said to have similar skin benefits.

Hay bath
Offered at Hotel Heubad in Italy's South Tyrol, you're wrapped in layers of mountain grass mixed with herbs, flowers and hot water before lying down on a warm waterbed. The hay bath ends with you being wrapped in a cosy blanket.
Why? Eases aches and pains.
Alternative: Opt for an organic seaweed wrap at Imagine Spa (UK).

As featured in the 2019 edition of National Geographic Traveller Spa & Wellness Collection.


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