To be quite honest there is no realistic way of listing these one to ten, as each has their own worth and value, however collectivley they represent possible the best ten massage services in London town. The rating is from one session with each by the writer, and we would really advise that you check each one out to make sure they suit what you are looking for.

THE EYERMAN TECHNIQUE

Ken Eyerman is a bit of a legend; he’s been working at Natureworks and Skyros for longer than he’d care to remember, and has been pummelling dancers back into shape for 25 years. I took my first massage course with him (since then, I have been on half a dozen other courses, having become hooked while at university; I love giving massages to friends and family); so including Ken was essential.

He combines deep-tissue work with knowledge of yoga and Feldenkrais Method, a technique to help you retrain your body into a better posture. Eyerman’s work is basically sourcing the problems within the body, trying to rebalance muscles, realign posture and teach clients how to look after themselves better.

In my hour-long session, fully clothed, in a quiet, pleasant therapy room, Ken worked at freeing my stuck neck, ribs and hips, with a variety of stretches and manipulations. Some of it was ouchy, most of it I felt was doing me good.

I came away knowing my body much better – my breathing was shallow, my left hip was weaker than the left, and my spine needed more work to align it – and feeling I’d been to see an expert.

Clients: mainly dancers and actors, but manic office workers, too.

Contact: Ken Eyerman (keneyerman@onetel.net) and at Natureworks, 16 Balderton Street, W1, 020 7629 2927; £65 per hour,

Rating: 9/10


LA STONE

The still deeply trendy therapy of the past 10 years, La Stone puts massage into a new context. Hot and cold stones are used by the therapists either to heat up your muscles or encourage excretion of waste products. It sounds flaky, but this is a clever treatment.

I went to the dark, stone-floored room (lit by lots of ceiling lights like tiny stars) at the Berkeley Health Club and saw Tracey Cross, who has a mere four years’ experience but is very competent and confident. I was asked to lie down on a line of hot stones (covered with towels), which, surprisingly wasn’t uncomfortable. The stones warmed up my back prior to being rubbed. Then I had my limbs worked on with the stones.

It was very slow, very meditative and deeply effective. The music wasn’t great (New Agey), but the whole experience was remarkably satisfying.

“A stone massage stroke is the equivalent of six hand strokes,” said Tracey. “They warm up the muscles, so fewer strokes are needed to achieve the same effect.” At the end ice-cold stones were used on the face and back. I left feeling relaxed and energised.

Clients: well-heeled travellers, spa flies.

Contact: The Berkeley Health Club and Spa, The Berkeley, Wilton Place, SW1, 020 7201 1699; a day pass to the gym area is £65 while treatment costs £90 per 75 minutes.

Rating: 8/10.


LOMI LOMI

This Hawaiian massage claims to heal you in strange and deep ways. “You should feel loved and nurtured in a lomi lomi massage,” said therapist Rosalie Samet. Oh dear. I’m not very good at being loved and nurtured by a total stranger and being totally naked, too. This massage features flowing strokes across the body, but I insisted on leaving my knickers on as I lay on the table in the big therapy room (more down-to-earth clinic than luxury spa).

The Hawaiian music was a bit weird, the oily massage was very quick and fluid, and Rosalie used a lot of forearm contact which felt strong but good. I couldn’t see where the deep-healing came from, or the Hawaiianness of it all, but it was fine as a massage went. Teresa Hale, owner of the Hale Clinic, rates it as her favourite massage.

Clients: self-help junkies, office workers, those odd souls who want a fully nude massage.

Contact: Rosalie Samet on 07974 083 432 and at the Hale Clinic, 7 Park Crescent, W1, 0845 009 4171, £85 per 90 minutes.

Rating: 6/10.


REMEDIAL MASSAGE

Clare Maxwell-Hudson is the queen of massage. She wrote the first popular book on the subject, and has been teaching for 25 years. I went along to see this warm and charismatic guru at her school. I had a back massage in her treatment room, lying on a heated couch, swathed in warm towels, while she worked on various bits of my bod. No music this time.

Clare began a classical back massage; using her own range of blended oils, she used firm sweeping strokes, focusing on the tight spots in my back and kneading out the knotty muscles around the shoulders. “I love trying to make someone feel better,” said Clare. I left feeling soothed and nurtured, knowing I’d been to see a remarkable healing talent. Top class.

Clients: devoted fan base, including high-fliers from showbiz, royalty and politics – Clare as flown abroad to see some stars.

Contact: Clare (she charges from £70 an hour) at the Clare Maxwell-Hudson School of Massage, Lower Ground Floor, 20 Enford Street, W1, 020 7724 7198; she normally refers to her team of therapists.

Rating: 9/10.


MANUAL LYMPH DRAINAGE

This technique helps not just those wanting some relaxation, but also anyone with a serious illness. Manual lymph drainage is a very gentle massage, focusing on improving the flow within the lymphatic system, which can be affected by serious illnesses and surgery; MLD works to restore circulation and thus boost immunity and reduce tissue swelling.

I saw Anne Vadgama at a massage training school, which wasn’t ideal, as the room was large and people could be heard outside (no music either).

However, she put me at my ease and I had a very soothing experience, with work being done to my neck, stomach and face. “It’s also got a great reputation for making you look younger,” said Anne. I left disorientated and spaced out, but perfectly calm.

Clients: people avoiding facelifts (MLD promotes circulation and rejuvenation of tissues) and recovering from them (swelling can be a problem); cancer patients (oedema, the swelling of tissues, is often a side effect of chemotherapy); anyone suffering from oedema in general.

Contact: Anne Vadgama: 020 8650 5677; home visits £65 per hour.

Rating: 8/10.


CHAVUTTI-THAI

Talented body worker Soliman Laurence does this new hybrid therapy combining half an hour of deep stretches (forget your modesty, he has your legs up around your ears) with half an hour of Indian rope massage – the one where they hang from a rope and use their feet on your pressure points. I was sceptical, but I really couldn’t fault it. Soliman stretched the parts I didn’t think he would.

Thai massage is a bit like being yoga’d – the therapist stretches out your limbs and twists you around in some challenging poses. And being soaked in olive oil and trodden on for the Chavutti (foot) element wasn’t so bad either. The first bit is clothed, the second, down to undies. Julian Clary, among others, is a fan. At the end it felt as though I had come out of a strenuous gym work-out. The treatment room was pleasant enough.

Clients: yoga fans; horse-riding fanatics (must be those hip stretches), and stressed Harley Street dentists.

Contact: Soliman Lawrence at The Joshi Clinic, 57 Wimpole Street, W1, 020 7487 5456, www.thejoshiclinic.com; £85 per hour.

Rating: 8/10.



DELANTA (ETHIOPIAN MASSAGE)

Liz McLarnon (from Atomic Kitten) and Jayne Middlemiss are said to be fans. Masseuse Yerous Sissaye-Raya is a natural bodyworkers, Ethiopian style, who has combined her ethnic knowledge with modern Swedish massage. In her cosy salon room in Clerkenwell, I lay down on the couch, ready to be impressed, but oh dear, this was just too hard; I felt as if I was being poked around.

The therapist worked with oil over my back, using deep friction movements, which created far too much heat for me. I said a couple of times she was working too hard but it didn’t make much difference. And the head massage of just poking did nothing for me. Maybe fingers of steel appeal to others.

Clients: lawyers and City types wanting an unforgiving massage – those knots will be ironed out, like it or not ...

Contact: Yerous Sissaye-Raya works from the Anita Cox Salon, 62 Britton Street, EC1, 020 7251 8220; £50 an hour.

Rating: 4/10.


ANAMAI (THAI MASSAGE)

This new therapy is a royal Thai massage using Ytsara-brand oils and herbal pillows, so it’s more spa-like than Zen-like. I went to see Corrinne Jenner, who has devised this therapy, and surprisingly it was pretty good. I had my feet washed, lay unclothed to undies under towels while various bits were massaged firmly and knowledgeably with oils; and had wonderfully comforting hot Thai herbal pillows placed on my spine and stomach to release tension. Nice smells, OK music (oriental); I couldn’t really fault it as a relaxing, regenerating experience.

Clients: Trendy types and anyone exhausted or rundown.

Contact: Corrinne Jenner, who works from Suwaay Beauty Retrat, 4a Thackeray Street, W8, 020 7376 0127, www.suwaay.com; £65 for 90 minutes.

Rating: 7/10.


AROMATHERAPY

This lovely soothing massage with essential oils is a real girly treat. And where to try it but Micheline Arcier Aromatherapy, a venue started by one of the goddesses of aromatherapy who devised her own oils and signature treatments more than 25 years ago.

Essential oils are reputed to affect mood, emotions and some physical complaints; I asked top therapist Elizabeth Leer, to sort out my buzzy head. She used camomile in the overall body massage, which was done down to undies as usual.

There was a sequence of moves, which were special to the Arcier brand – it wasn’t wildly different from other massages, but felt good, including firm, slow strokes across the back; shoulders, legs and arms.

She then put sandalwood oil on my face, and finished with a strawberry facemask and frankincense in my hair. The room was white, clean and quiet. Elizabeth was very competent, very attentive, very good.

Clients: Bridget Joneses, busy young mums, plus ladies who lunch.

Contact: Micheline Arcier Aromatherapy, 7 William Street, SW1, 020 7235 3545; £55 an hour, www.michelinearcier.com.

Rating: 8/10.


ESALEN

Coming from the very kooky Esalen Institute in California, this massage is rare in the UK. Therapist Mariora Goschen describes Esalen as a fusion of deep-tissue massage, Feldenkrais Method (postural rebalancing), Rolfing (deep, painful transformative massage) and the Trager Approach (bodywork using rocking and continuous movement to release tension).

I went along to an attractive room at the Hale Clinic and asked her to fix my weak left hip and tight shoulders. I was told to lie on a table undressed to undies. There was no music, and plenty of chat. First she did a slow, long oil massage, then adjusted the length of my legs by manipulating muscles around my hips, and release shoulder tension with her hands.

“Esalen is about problem-solving the body, while blissing you out,” said Mariora. At the end I felt aware of my breathing patterns, and despite my misgivings, I judged it a first-rate massage. Recommended for people who want insight into their body-tension patterns.

Clients: high-powered creative types.

Contact: Mariora Goschen on 020 7355 4796 and at the Hale Clinic, W1, 0845 009 4171; £50 an hour.

Rating: 9/10.

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