An aromatherapy massage is just one of the many types of massages guests can enjoy at The Spa at the Montcalm and is one of the most popular types requested byvisitors to spas throughout the world. But why? What is an aromatherapy massage? And, while we’re at it, what’s aromatherapy itself?
At the Spa at the Montcalm, we insist that an aromatherapy massage is best experienced with a therapist so that the correct plant oils can be chosen for the treatment, ensuring you get the best results from it. This is because it’s a massage specifically designed to treat the whole person, not just one area of the body, by the application most often, but not always, of essential oils – which tend to be fragrant oils extracted from plants chiefly through steam distillation (such as eucalyptus oil) or expression (such as grapefruit oil).
Traditionally, aromatherapy is used as a treatment to reduce pain or anxiety, enhance energy and short-term memory, minimise hair loss or even prevent itching owing to eczema. However, when applied to the body by massage, it’s perhaps most commonly used as a relaxation treatment; as with many massages.
Aromatherapy’s origins can be traced as far back as the first century A.D., when the use of oils was advocated by the Roman physician Pedanius Dioscorides in De Materia Medica, his encyclopaedia of medicinal herbs and plants. With the invention of distillation in the eleventh century, essential oils began to find favour as medicines, thanks in no small part to the Persian polymath Avicenna (or Ibn-Sīnā) isolating essential oils via steam distillation. Later, French surgeon Jean Valnet claimed to have used essential oils as antiseptics when treating wounded soldiers during the First World War, while the modern champion of aromatherapyRené-Maurice Gattefossé (whose 1937 book Aromathérapie: Les Huiles Essentielles, Hormones Végétales contains the first appearance of the word ‘aromatherapy’ in print) reckoned he once treated his badly burned hand with lavender oil.
It’s no secret that scientists tend to be sniffy about the efficacy of aromatherapy, but many regular spa-goers will only too happily swear by the relaxing, stress relieving and mind-clarifying effects of an aromatherapy massage. In which case, what better way to spend 25 minutes, 40 minutes, an hour or an hour-and-a-half than in the hands of an expert masseuse at our spa, to be found in the exquisite Montcalm Hotel at the head of Park Lane in the heart of the West End? We’re adamant that you’ll leave us convinced a massage with essential oils was an essential experience for both your body and mind.