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Hot lava shell massage

If you like your massage treatments hot and hard, it's got to be the hot lava shell massage. It's just the thing for gnarly shoulder muscles.

Since appearing on the massage scene about a decade ago, the hot lava shell massage has won over many a sceptic – me included – and now as a troupe of celebrity fans including Ellie Goulding and Pixie Lott. Richard Branson is said to love it so much that he insisted it be offered at Necker Island, his Caribbean retreat. It’s also become the thing among the London ladies’ spa set. But of course you don’t have to head to the big smoke to get your fix from these little shells of joy.


I love a home-based therapist – and Gail at Glamour Garden just outside Guildford in Burpham is no exception. Her salon is set up in the poshest, girliest shed I’ve ever seen. Okay it’s not really a shed, it’s a super pretty summerhouse at the bottom of Gail’s garden. And Gail has styled it beautifully with luxuriously thick curtains, vintage furnishings and stunning aubergine velvet chaise lounge. Even the treatment table looks stylish, laid out with a combination of raspberry red and deep purple blankets and towels.


I felt instantly at ease from the moment I set foot in Gail’s summmerhouse salon – which I’d put down to a combination of the pretty interiors and Gail’s own warm and friendly manner. Gail is specialist in waxing – especially in the Brazilian and Hollywood bikini waxes – and has a large and loyal client base. I can see how her chatty and bubbly personality would put clients at ease.


And so onto the massage. The lava shells – recycled natural tiger clam shells which come from the Philippines – are filled with a little bag of minerals and some salty water which react together to heat up. Unlike the hot stone massage, the lava shells continue to heat up for more than an hour, which means your therapist can provide a continuous body massage without clattering stones or having to spend time replacing them as they slide off your back.

During the massage, the shells gradually transfer the heat to your body and in doing so become cooler; they start heating up again if they’re put to one side. This means that the therapist can adjust the heat for each client.  I was surprised at just how hot the shells were – they have to be to penetrate the deeper muscles, apparently. Better still they can use the edge of the shell to really break down the knots in your back or shoulder. Gail also used both her hands and the shells to work down into the muscles – and knots, there were lots – in my back and shoulders.

Gail used Kokolokahi oils – a blend of coconut, Argan and shea Oil mixed with frangipani and sandalwood – which was deliciously relaxing. Add to that the soothing music, the luxe surroundings and Gail’s magical touch, I could feel the tension disappearing as I wafted deliciously somewhere between the conscious and unconscious. I could have stayed there all afternoon.


Yep, these babies are good. I came out blinking into the daylight feeling relaxed but sort of invigorated at the same time. The lava shell massage is a deep massage that’s 10 times more effective than traditional massage, thanks to the heat in the tiger clams.


A full body hot lava shell massage (1hr 15 mins) is £52, and a 30 minute back, neck and shoulders is £30.


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2 comments on “Hot lava shell massage”

  • Isabel Ballardie December 9, 2018

    What a great and honest review ! I’ve already messaged Gail asking to book me in. Please let it be my salvation for pre Christmas hunched shoulder fatigue . My shoulders are up by my ears – shoulder pads not needed!

    • amberevans December 9, 2018

      Isabel, you won’t regret it! Gail is a genius with those little shells. X


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