Well that was traumatic: Thai Massage at Chiang Mai Thai, Manchester

A few weeks ago I bought a deal from Living Social for Chiang Mai Thai, a Thai Massage place not too far from me (is anyone else finding some of these ‘deal’ sites impossible in terms of getting appointments and once your there, getting a good level of service?).

I have been dying to try some traditional Thai massage out for a while now so rather excitedly booked an appointment. Well…it was HARD work. You have to call a mobile number and I spoke to them so many times to confirm and re-confirm. It was difficult communicating. Eventually it was sorted.

So I get to Chiang Mai Thai massage and the place is upstairs, opposite a travel agents. It’s really quite odd once you get in there – it’s like you’ve stepped back in time and there were 3-4 beds in this room (same place as the waiting area and reception) with just medical screens separating them. Hmm.


Obviously with just screens in place there’s plenty of disturbances – a doorbell jingles when someone walks in. Luckily this was NOT the place for massages, or at least not for mine. They have a few rooms across the hall.

Anyway so I’m sat there and naturally, they have no record of my appointment!

Frustrating but they said they could fit me in anyway.

Meanwhile there are lots of customers coming in and asking if they could get an last minute appointment – all burly middle aged men – too many staring and smiling at me quite frankly – and the staff there were somewhat…friendly? Huggy? Strokey?

Ok maybe I’m being picky but what I’m saying is – I didn’t think it was that professional to have people feeling each other up in front of customers and I didn’t feel at all comfortable.

To the massage! Now – I think there was some kind of electricity problem so the lady had to light some candles. My appointment was supposed to start at 5.15, she spent so long looking for tea lights it was 5.30 before anything happened (and it finished at 6.05 so…do the math!).

Now – the massage itself was skilful, it was quite – ok a very HARD massage and by hard I mean I wanted to shake and cry a bit in the corner of the room after some of her moves.


Nevertheless – I can see why it does appeal to the burly blokes, it’s really hard going, deep tissue massage! Like all her might pressed into my thigh – OUCH. (I’m lying there thinking, did I remove necessary body hair? No.)

I can’t fault the massage itself but the atmosphere was off. People kept calling to my massage lady through the door during the massage so obviously I couldn’t relax.

So that was all ok then half way through – I don’t know why, but they swapped people. Perhaps because my appointment hadn’t officially been accounted for – but once again, it’s disruptive.

Second lady was very good too, she really really did some painful things to my back.

Thai massage is quite different in that they will crawl on top of you, they will move you round a bit (had an urge to keep my legs shut but had to have them open for some of the massage – eek!).

Then at the end – horror of horrors – the lady had to sit behind me as she moved my arms about in an attempt to crack my shoulders. She did something weird which made my neck crack (EEK!).

She then held both of my arms behind me and pulled as she used her feet to kick my back/shoulders out…uh huh.

Let’s think about this for a moment. For a man this is no problem. But ladies remove bras when getting massages. If both your arms are behind you, you have to let go of the towel. If you have to let go of the towel then chi-chis are on full display. And if she’s pushing your back then not only are the chi-chis free, they are being forcibly thrust into the air. Oh how I cringed and wanted her to stop.

All done, there was one more problem – they couldn’t see me on the Living Social records. After much faff, I was found but there was much squawking going on as I wondered if I would be charged full price for having my dignity removed.

There is definitely a certain clientele that likes this massage place and that works for them, so great, because they are nice ladies. But it’s really not for someone like me, still a little salon shy who wants things to be professional and as smooth as possible.


Overall, I would rate this experience as more traumatic than going to the dentist and less traumatic then having to have dinner with the mother-in-law.

I paid £18 for this massage which was an offer price from Living Social.

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  1. Ailsa says

    Urgh! Does not sound pleasant at all. I do worry about appointments on these deals, and how they’ll ever fit everyone in.
    And, in this case I think you were much braver than me. I’d have found the screens in the waiting room so traumatic that I probably would have ran away there an d then! Kudos for completing it!

  2. says

    Eek that sounds wayy traumatic! And sketchy too!

    My friend went to a place close to our house (we live a block from each other) that was suppose to be good and cheap, but it was very very sketchy. I don’t think they even had individual rooms for the actual massages!

    I’m wary of the Groupon/Living Social deals when it comes to services, so I stick with the restaurant/retail store coupons. I do wonder how the vacation deals for Living Social pans out.

  3. Giselle says

    Umm…i think those men may have been there for a “happy ending” message. If it looks sketchy, it probably is :\

  4. JenT says

    Eeek scary mary! Sounds like quite an experience you had there! I didn’t realise thai massages were so…physical lol Has it put you off thai massages for a while?? I used a Groupon deal for a facial treatment, when I turned up to find the place, it was on the 3rd floor of a tucked-away run-down building, so I was slightly concerned, but it turned out to be a very good treatment, and the beauty therapist was lovely…but yeah, your experience kinda reminds me that some of these deals aren’t as great as made out (took me ages to book on a mobile number as well!)

    • Row says

      Hi Jen

      Oh yeah I know! I’ve had some proper dodgy ones O.o it makes you wonder sometimes how well these deal places vet the salons they are using!

  5. dana says

    I’ve had a few thai massages (not in the uk in the middle east) and I had my own room ,candles lit & relaxing thai music. Your right about it being painful at sometimes you should’ve just said haaay that hurts haha

    I don’t think you should’ve paid £18 for a traumatic experience!

  6. Jen says

    Yeah, you do wonder whether they go and try these places out first! Which other ones have you tried that have been dodgy?! The ones I’ve tried have been alright so far *touch wood* apart from being hard to get in for an appointment!

  7. dee says

    i used the same living social deal here and all went smoothly to book, no probs when i went in at all, there where a few men about and a couple of the girls had their boyfriends in but all was ok. The massage itself was very nice and professional. Its not a beauty parlour by any means! Thai massage is very different than sweedish for example. I read up on the technique first so i knew what to expect. I loved it and have been again taking my partner. They had us both in the same room seperated a liitle by a curtain, again lovely and professional. If i felt threatened or uncomfortable in any way i would have left and not gone back. But i could go here every week happily.
    Thanks girls for a super massage and a wonderful experience. And the nice thai tea you made for me and my partner.

    • Row says

      Hi Dee

      Glad you liked it! I found it nearly impossible to book – several calls and felt so uncomfortable in there. I mean I have had my fair share of treatments and some rubbish ones but this was the first that made me feel that uneasy – I mean changing therapist half way through is not exactly normal, is it? I’ve had tougher massages like this before – infact I had an exquisite one recently in a Thai Spa in Covent Garden but there was definitely no toe curling moments there. Nice ladies though – can’t fault them for that

  8. Al says


    There’s none of that funny business at Pippa’s / Chiang Mai. Just a great massage – the ladies don’t seem that inhibited though; I could understand someone being uncomfortable with it, especially if they’re used to a more subdued atmosphere :)

    I would nonetheless recommend them to anyone, particularly as there are now some more private rooms at the front of the establishment.

  9. Nicky says

    Wow… How old are you? Time to grow up… Really.

    The fact you were so uncomfortable having your breasts possibly seen by a female massuese,
    says a lot more about you than the establishment or practitioner. Are you that uncomfortable
    with your own body? Honestly, it’s a little immature.

    • Row says

      It’s not that I’m “uncomfortable” with my own breasts, Nicky. I’ve had 100s of massages and to experience another therapist that thinks its ok without asking FIRST if she’s alright with you being topless whilst digging her feet into your back and pushing your body into the air. This includes other Thai massages. And this doesn’t include the changing therapists (!!!) half way through a session. You have to be comfortable with your treatment and that is what any massage therapist worth their salt would ensure.

      It’s funny when a company quite obviously send staff or male clients (ahem) to defend their business. Do a better job and you won’t get bad reviews! End of!