Testing eastern promises in the chic heart of Paris

    9 May 2015

     Mandarin Oriental, Paris

    Visitors to the city of love are spoilt for choice when it comes to top-notch hotels. For that reason, demanding guests increasingly expect high-end spas that not only cater for those wishing to have a good massage or some nice beauty treatments, but which can also offer something more medical. We report from one such hotel which is making a name for itself in offering some traditional eastern medicine in the heart of western culture.

    The place

    Located just moments from the Louvre in the very centre of Paris, on the Rue St Honoré, one of its most fashionable streets, this stunning 1930s Art Deco building is home to one of Paris’s most luxurious hotels. And it also boasts one of the city’s largest hotel spas, which draws on Chinese medicine and tradition for its signature treatments. In the centre of the hotel is a tree-planted indoor garden where you can have breakfast or sit in the evening to sip champagne. As you’d expect, there’s also a large indoor pool and fitness centre with state-of-the-art gym equipment.

    The symptoms

    While this sleuth’s psoriasis has been a lifelong affliction, it had been calm for many years. Then a period of stress after a family bereavement caused it to flare up. While a visit to the GP gave the Spa Inspector a useful prescription of topical creams, anything that can help further would be gratefully received…

    The treatment

    The Mandarin Oriental Signature aims to redress anxiety and tiredness by using the Chinese principles of yin and yang. Their therapies begin with a relaxing body massage ritual that combines the powerful effects of oriental meridian massage with their own range of essential oils. These bring together the purest plant and flower oils from the East and West and, in keeping with Chinese tradition, each product is created according to the principles of the five elements. They then tailor further treatments to any specific requirements of the client.

    The process

    The Spa Inspector’s medical history and medication was reviewed in an in-depth consultation. She was then sent off with a pot of green tea and bamboo body scrub and told to clean herself to within an inch of her life. It was therapeutic seeing the grime of the Paris streets vanish down the plughole. She was then moved to a room with ambient music and exotic fragrances to begin unwinding. Next was a rose petal bath. This was followed by a steam scrub to gently exfoliate the skin, and then wraps to enrich and hydrate the skin. Then she was given a full body massage. The entire process took more than three hours.

    The verdict

    Everything about the experience was personal and tailored to the Spa Inspector’s problems. The staff were kind and thoughtful. Nothing was too much trouble and there were times when your reviewer thought she had died and gone to heaven. She has never felt healthier. A month later, the unsightly scaly patches have completely cleared up and she couldn’t be happier.

    The medical view

    Dr Max Pemberton: Psoriasis is caused by the immune system and is not infectious. While there are different types, it typically results in patches of scaly skin, sometimes over large areas of the body. It is common for the condition to wax and wane, so it’s difficult to know if the improvement was due to the Mandarin Oriental’s procedure. The creams the GP prescribed may also have been a big factor. However, some studies have shown that in mild cases, diet and lifestyle changes can improve psoriasis: exercise and cutting stress are particularly helpful. And treatments that hydrate and moisturise the skin can ameliorate the itchiness and dryness associated with the condition.

    The feelgood factor

    Complete luxury in beautiful surroundings. Whether or not you believe in the power of Chinese medicine, this treatment worked for the Spa Inspector and left her feeling so rejuvenated that she considered climbing the Eiffel tower. (Although she opted for some retail therapy in the end.)

    The details

    The Mandarin Oriental offers superior rooms from £635 per night. For bookings call 00800 28 28 38 38 or visit