Lava Shell Massage at the Mandarin Oriental London

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I’ve mentioned before how much I love spa treatments – I really, really love them. Especially massages – I mentioned in my other recent spa post (here) but today I got to experience what is basically the queen of all massages. And I’ve been lucky enough to have quite a few over the years – and this one seriously left me impressed.

The massage in question was a Lava Shell massage and it was at the amazing Mandarin Oriental hotel spa near Hyde Park/Knightsbridge. It’s one of those hotels that you know about and know it’s going to be amazing, but it’s only when you get to go there that you realise how lovely it actually is until you get there. I was lucky enough to visit on a quiet Thursday morning and pretty much had solo use of the spa facilities – which was an amazing way to start the day.

For around an hour before my treatment I relaxed in the pool (mostly on the under water bed bit with the bubbles on for a bit of a pre-massage, massage. Very relaxing. Plus some time in the sauna and the steam room. I then made my way to the relaxation room ahead of the main event – the Lava Shell Massage.

Now, a little about Lava Shell massage. The idea of using heat in massage to help the muscles relax is not a new one – things like hot stones have been around for years. But, as someone who has had a few hot stone based massages I have to say they’re lovely – but they definitely have downsides. The stones don’t retain heat that well, and there’s been a few times when a stone has almost felt cool to my skin instead of warm as has been used for that little bit too long. Plus there’s the distraction factor as the therapist regularly has to switch stones and pop the used ones back in the heater to keep them warm for the duration of the treatment. Each time that happens I’m taken promptly out of massage-chill zone and into ‘what the heck is she doing’ zone. Less relaxing overall. This is where the Lava Shell idea differs – the shells are real shells, which are sealed together and have a whole where the ‘lava’ or hot-making mixture is inserted. This hot mixture (not the technical name) is inserted ahead of the treatment and generates warmth that is consistent and lasts far longer than that of a warmed up stone. The shape of the shell also lends itself better for massage as can be used in different ways that help mimic the feeling of a hand – so the ‘knuckle’ of the shell (the bit where it joins the two halves together can mimic the thumb area for firmer pressure. The longer sort of ‘point’ along the side can mimic the knuckles (more on this in a moment) and the flatter side is like the palm. But more range than that of a round stone… My treatment the therapist only used three stones and I wasn’t aware of any switching at all – there was no cooling at all, just consistent warm, comfortable heat – not at all too hot.

I was there for a 90min all over massage  – also known as heaven – and it really was blissful. The therapist starts by offering a choice of Aromatherapy Associates Oils (my favourites) and I went for ‘Revive Morning’, as I wanted to be relaxed, but not a zombie for the rest of the day. She then started the massage on the legs, as this is the point the stones are at their warmest and the legs can take the heat more so than the back. The massage is a seamless combination of hands and Lava Shells – so there is a range of pressure, techniques and warmth. It’s not just a routine massage either – which for me was the major point that I was impressed with – my therapist spent particular time on my shoulders where I do tend to get a few knots and tension. This is where the Lava Shell benefit really came into it’s own – with the ‘knuckle’ combined with the heat being perfect for easing out knots on the neck/shoulder, and the longer narrow (I want to use the word ‘sharp’ but I don’t mean that in the sense that it’s actually sharp – just the narrower side) of the shell was absolutely amazing for massaging around my shoulder blades. Not a technique I’ve experienced before but I could truly see the difference this area being paid attention to made – and how the heat specifically there eased out knots where other therapists haven’t quite managed it. Very, very impressed.

Overall, I left with that amazing feeling of feeling a bit ‘lighter’ like a bit of weight had been lifted from my shoulders and I was walking a little taller – relaxed and rejuvenated, but not zoned out! I loved the heat element of the Lava Shells Massage treatment and can only imagine how amazing this treatment would feel if had on a chilly winters day too, the heat really does make all the difference.

For more information on the Lava Shells Massage visit the Shared Beauty Secrets website or for more on the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Spa

I am affiliated with Shared Beauty Secrets (the folks behind the Lava Shell Massage) but this post is not sponsored – but was provided complementary.



  1. July 15, 2014 / 8:56 pm

    I really enjoyed this post! Learned something new about massages and made me really crave one! The way you described it was magical I lived vicariously through you for a few minutes. Glad you had a nice morning off xxx

  2. July 15, 2014 / 9:42 pm

    Sounds amazing! I officially invite you for a massage to see how it holds up with the expert 🙂

    • Jen
      July 15, 2014 / 11:01 pm

      It was lovely and always open to a massage! They’re my new favourite thing!

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