There are a lot of foot massage
spots around town, but Jingan
stalwart Congzhou stands out
as a firm favourite. Don’t be put
off by the rough-round-the edges
appearance of its
Jiaozhou Lu locale;
the foot massages
excellent, and the
staff always have
time for a chat.
feet into a bucket
of steaming hot
water, settle back
with a cup of tea, and relax as the
masseurs go to work.
50RMB gets your tired feet an hour
of vigorous pampering, including
a soak in jasmine water, massage
and oil rub. It’s a Chinese massage,
so some parts can be painful to the
uninitiated – but it’s believed that
this can help alleviate problems
elsewhere in your body. Bonus!
The body scrub at Xiao Nan Guo
is thorough, to say the least, and
features some curious elements to
boot. To get this treatment, you must
already be inside the Xiao Nan Guo
bathhouse (88RMB entry for adults),
which means you are already minus
clothes (although of course in
Any initial embarrassment is
soon forgotten though, as the
professional staff get to work and
our skin is thoroughly cleansed,
scrubbed and generally refreshed
It’s at this point
that things start to get a bit
gastronomical: our face is lathered
with a cucumber face mask, and
body cleansed with milk (this is a
no-frills place, mind you, so don’t be
surprised if the milk is from Family
Mart). At the end we are given some
more milk to cleanse our face – we
try to make sure not to swallow any –
and then are thoroughly rinsed off.
Afterwards, we feel a mixture
of perfect relaxation and shell
shock. If you opt for this treatment,
we suggest kicking back in the
bathhouse sauna afterwards to
really get your money’s worth.
Xiao Nan Guo 3337 Hongmei Lu, near Yanan Xi Lu. See full address details.
Yu Massage is consistently one
of our favourite massage spots in
Shanghai. Although the prices might
have crept up a little over the last year, the standards have remained
just as high, meaning Yu still offers
great value for money. Their newer
Huangpi Bei Lu spa (they’re also
on Wuyuan Lu) is impeccably laid
out and decorated, and with its
low lighting and quiet rooms and
corridors, is always surrounded by
an air of calm, despite being just off
the bustling People’s Square.
We go for the standard oil
massage, the cheapest therapy
offered, and choose from a
selection of scented oils. Most
of the numerous masseuses
on Yu’s books are excellent and
polite almost to a fault, but once
you’ve been a few times, you can
remember the one you like best and
stick with them. The masseuse we
had on our most recent visit was
strong but gentle, starting with the
back and working down our legs,
arms and shoulders, sorting out all
those knotted muscles. Strongly
recommended for an end-of-week
unwind at a wallet-friendly price.
Yu massage 199 Huangpi Bei Lu, near Weihai Lu. See full address details.
Aroma Age is a comfortable, clean
and cheap option for a traditional
Chinese therapy, with attractive
decor and a top-notch massage. You
keep your clothes on, but you still get
the luxury of a single room.
The therapist starts with our back,
moves down to legs, then we flip over
and the front of our legs come in for
some pretty tough kneading, before
wrapping up with a head massage.
Chinese massage is used as a
therapeutic practice rather than as
a relaxation process; when it hurts,
the idea is that it’s freeing up the
flow of qi (energy) in your body. But
that’s all down to personal taste; the
masseur was very conscientious
about asking whether the strength
was okay both before and during
our session. A notch up from many
cheap blind massage places and
well worth skipping off work early for.
Aroma Age 11 Zhenning Lu, near Zhaohua Dong Lu. See full address details.
Dragonfly’s new Jingan Kerry Centre
outpost is everything a spa should
be; a labyrinth of rooms behind
tinted doors, with candles, gently
cascading water, and soothing
music. The head massage here is
among the best we’ve found across
the whole city, taking in head,
shoulders, neck, arms and fingers.
On our visit, the comfy Lazyboy-
like chairs recline, we are
wrapped in a blanket with a heated
bean bag placed across our belly,
and we quickly drift off to a happy
and immensely relaxing place.
The therapist is professional and
thorough, working through knots
in our neck and shoulders without
disturbing our peaceful state.
Get here before 2pm and you can
enjoy a half-hour session for just
98RMB. Otherwise opt for an hour at 188RMB – still an absolute steal
for a treatment that left us without a
care in the world.
Dragonfly Jingan Kerry Centre, 1218 Yanan Zhong Lu, near Changde Lu. See full address details.
Sleek urban spa SkinCity 5.5 is one
of a clutch of massage joints and
spas found on the Dagu Lu strip,
but it’s one of our favourites to head
to. Best known for its thorough,
luxurious facials, SkinCity can be a
little pricey, but if you’re looking to
budget there are a few options that
are a little lighter on the pocket.
For 225RMB we try a full hand
and arm treatment, which includes
a kneading massage of the wrists,
fingers and arms, an exfoliating
scrub and moisturising. It also
features a slightly baffling heat
therapy, where our arms are
coated in moisturising cream,
wrapped in plastic cling film, and
thrust into long oven gloves which
reach up to the elbow, before being
heated like mini-electric blankets. During the treatment, it’s all a bit
bizarre, but afterwards our arms
have never felt so soft.
If you want to ease the price down
a little further, opt for the straight
up hand and arm massage for
150RMB, which works out all the
aches and pains in your muscles
without the heat paddles.
SkinCity 5.5 76 Dagu Lu, near Shimen Yi Lu. See full address details.