It’s not unusual for us to wake up in the morning unsure as to whether it would be preferable to be dead or alive, given the previous night’s unrivaled debauchery. A combination of the shakes, sweats, eyeballs filled with red fury, cotton mouths and something we refer to as The Fear are a loathsome combination indeed. In other words, we hate hangovers.
On the the other end of the hate-love spectrum, we adore massages. While The Fool is a very recent convert (he needed two sets of hands to get the job done right…), Straight-Six has enjoyed massages over the last 20 years on most of the globe’s continents. Let us reassure you, folks, there is no such thing as a stereotypical massage. An enormous number of variations and styles exist, nuanced into infinity by the masseuses themselves.
We’ve enjoyed everything from the newbie touch of the masseuse who mistakes your body for an iPhone screen – flicking, scrolling and pinching your pores – all the way through to heavy handed, hard-talking gents in Vegas who exhibit the sensitivity of an amateur torturer. Trust us: you and your body remember the really good ones for a long time afterwards, the mediocre remainder rapidly fading into obscurity. Throughout, we’ve always insisted on ensuring that a lady massages us, fearful of the infamous John Travolta incident and the resultant bad publicity…
So it was that a recent Saturday saw us stumble into the Brussels’ Serendip Spa, our body aching furiously and our head dragging on the floor behind. We’d received a gift voucher from friends for a massage of our choice, in this case settling on the 90 minute Ayurvedic Harmony package, with its promise of a deep, relaxing massage using warmed organic plant oils.
Situated just off the busy Place Stephanie/Galleries Louise shopping area, Serendip Spa sets the right tone the moment you sit down in the waiting area, offering slippers and a bag to put your outer world shoes in. Awaiting our massage, we flicked through a strange book claiming Jesus had spent his missing years in Britain. Monty Python are no doubt rejoicing.
We were eventually called to the downstairs massage area, passing several relaxation zones on the way down into the belly of the Serendip Spa. We slipped into a robe in a tight, but pleasant changing room with shower and lockers before being greeted outside the door by the man we now call Master Ho. One look at this gent tells you you’re in for something special. Tiny and delicate-looking, with his hair brushed forward teen-idol style, Master Ho smiled gently as we were guided to the massage table.
What took place over the next 90 minutes was nothing less than transformational. And even inspirational. Master Ho displayed a holistic approach that combined power, knowledge, sensitivity and a touch of sheer magic. Truly, he made even the best massages we’ve received to date come across as nothing more than seasoned amateur fare. Many of you may not buy into Asian beliefs over energy channels and the need for regular internal re-balancing, but one session with Master Ho had us buying into it lock, stock and barrel. While familiar with many massage movements, we were surprised by a number of new touches, including the “rolling” over our abdominal area and hand movements moving from the V at the bottom of the neck out over the clavicles.
Given the length of time you spend laying on the massage table, it’s inevitable – and often overlooked – that your legs, back of your head and neck become numb. Surely Ho would trip up here? But no, as he ended the 90 minutes ensuring that not one part of our now reanimated corpse was left in the state in which it arrived. Even our ears were treated.
It’s simple really: good massages relax you, the very best re-balance and revive you, and Master Ho delivered the latter. In spades. As we walked back into the harsh light of day, we were asked how it went. We weren’t exaggerating when we looked the owner dead in the eye and exclaimed: “Best massage we’ve had over the last 20 years.”
Serendip Spa, 18 Place Stephanie, 1050 Brussels
Master Ho ensures Serendip Spa lives up to its name
With almost two decades of massages under our belt across most of the world’s continents, we’re big fans of the big rub. We thought we’d had some pretty good ones too. Until we came across Master Ho at Brussels’ Serendip Spa.
Eric (AKA Straight-Six) had a proper job as a journalist for Dow Jones before lowering himself gently into the warm, forgiving waters of The Guide. He’s our resident fanatic: he relished detailing his BMW M3 for two full days at a time before crashing it at Eau Rouge in the wet; he spends insane amounts on his home-cinema system and has thrown tens of thousands of euros at vintage Rolex sports watches. The little fool simply does not understand the concept of restraint or the meaning of excess. He also – following a legendary "heavy" lunch – once nibbled (yes, like little dogs do) a dear lady friend of ours.
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