We all know the story of the milk bath as legendary as the Egyptian queen associated with it. They say that Cleopatra used to bathe in donkey’s milk to help preserve her beauty and youthful appearance. The reason for this is that milk has proteins that could soften the skin and lactic acid that helps in exfoliation. This had me curious for quite a long time, wondering what it feels like to indulge in a ritual fit for royalty. Last year, I found the perfect occasion (my birthday) to give it a try and the place that offers this one of a kind experience, I’M Onsen Spa at I’M Hotel.
Authors Note: I’M Onsen is temporarily closed due to the community quarantine caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is not a sponsored post.
I’M Hotel, a luxury hotel in Makati brings the Japanese sento culture to the Philippines via the I’M Onsen Spa. It occupies 6 floors inside the hotel, each floor dedicated to a specific facility, such as massage/treatment area, The Common Good buffet restaurant, onsen pool, relaxation lounges, executive and VIP rooms. All guests who are checked-in in the hotel are automatically given access to all of these areas, however, treatments should be availed separately. I’M Onsen is also open to non-hotel guests, but booking ahead of time is required.
Sento or public bathhouse has been part of the Japanese culture since 712. The country being a stratovolcanic archipelago is blessed with natural hot springs (onsen). The Japanese believe in the healing properties of onsen to alleviate symptoms of neuralgia (chronic pain due to damaged nerve), muscle pain, rheumatism, and even skin conditions like dermatosis. Likewise, it says to help relieve fatigue and stress as well as maintain beautiful skin.
The spa offers an array of treatments that complement the benefits of onsen. You can avail of their single treatments or combine a few for a better experience. The selection is so extensive, it can get overwhelming. If you are not sure which treatments to choose from, check out their pre-set packages. You have the option to add the buffet to your booking or not. Note that rates may change from the time of writing.
Signature Onsen Journey offers three different spa onsen programs ideal to those who are suffering from insomnia, tiredness or fatigue, and jet lag.
Rates: Php 3,600 – 4,050
Couples Delight as the name implies is perfect for couples. You will be given a private room where you can enjoy services like a 60-minute massage, facial, body scrub, and eye care treatment.
Rates: Php 7,000 – 8,000
Spa Executive Choice is tailored for a group of at least 4 people. Depending on your chosen package, treatments may include foot reflexology, aromassage, facial, and head massage.
Rates: Php 9,900 – 13,000
Sense of Place features Filipino old healing techniques. Services offered include Filipino hilot, foot therapy, and ventosa massage.
Rates: Php 1,550 – 2,550
Spa Party Package is perfect for a group of people who want to celebrate an occasion in style, like a bridal shower, birthday party, or just simple group bonding.
Therapeutic Touch covers their wellness massage selections such as Jet lag recovery massage, Healing stone therapy, I’M Onsen Spa Signature Massage, Shiatsu, Aromassage, and Lymphatic Drainage Massage.
Rates: Php 1,550 – 2,250
Fountain of Youth is their selection of facial treatments such as I’m Onsen Spa signature facial, Ageless facial therapy, Brightening facial, and Gentlemen’s tonic.
Rates: Php 2,000 – 2,900
Body Silk is what you choose if you want to try their body scrub treatments. They use exotic flower scrubs and spices to help detoxify the body and rejuvenate the skin.
Rates: Php 1,650 – 2,050
Private bath – Tea bath, flower bath, or milk bath, choose from any of these for the ultimate indulgence.
Asia’s best spa express features Asian techniques that are popular in Asia, such as Japanese facial massage, Xiamen foot reflexology, Korean foot spa, Indian head and shoulder, and Eyecare with a scalp massage.
Rates: Php 950 – 1,250
I booked online and customized the package that I wanted to avail of. I chose the I’M Onsen Spa signature massage with buffet (Php 1,950) and the luxurious milk bath (Php 700). I’m not sure but it seems like choosing a private bath will automatically require a room upgrade to the executive suite (Php 400). The total amount I paid is Php 3,050. I was scheduled in the afternoon, they advised me to arrive at least 1 hour before my appointment so the staff can prepare for my treatment and I have time to enjoy the onsen facilities.
Just as advised, I came in early. In the reception, I signed a form in which I specified which part of my body do I want the massage therapist to focus on. I was also given a paper bracelet that would give me access to the spa. I went first to the onsen area. They provided me with a locker key, a towel, and a yukata (Japanese robe) to change into.
I started with the sauna, stayed there for 15 minutes, after which, I rinsed my body and went to the onsen pool next. There were no other guests, probably because it was the early afternoon on a Monday.
The onsen pool may only be used before the treatment, but you can use the steam and sauna before or even after treatment. If you come in late, it will reduce the time of your treatment and you will still be charged in full.
30 minutes before my scheduled massage treatment, I went up to the lounge area to wait for my therapist. Just as the onsen area, the place was empty. I helped myself to a cup of ginger tea and sat on one of the lounge chairs. Before long, a therapist came over to fetch me. Together we took the lift to the treatment area.
By this time, it made me feel like I had reserved the entire onsen spa to myself for my birthday as I found no other guests even in the massage area. The therapist led me to a room and told me that she would leave me for 20 minutes so I could take a bath. I almost told her that I had already bathed in the onsen area when I remembered that I was supposed to experience the milk bath.
I went into the bathroom and saw a huge wooden bathtub filled with milky water. At that moment I seemed to have forgotten I am a woman in her late 30s because it had me all excited. I stripped down as soon as the therapist left and gently jumped went into the tub. The water was cool and smelled of milk. I imagined that a milk bath would be creamy, but then for that to happen they’ll have to use pure milk, no water. If it’s so it would cost more than 700 pesos for sure. Anyway, I was not complaining, in fact, I was ecstatic. This has got to be the most indulgent bath I’ve had to date and it felt so amazing.
And just like that, my 20-minute bath time was over. The therapist returned and led me to a different room for a massage. It is a private room with its own sink and faucet.
In 2016, Cai and I had a staycation at I’M Hotel and back then, the onsen was still under construction, however, we did get to try the massage treatment and I remember it being among the best ones that I have ever had.
3 years later, here I was, getting a massage for the second time and just like before, it doesn’t disappoint. It was 60 minutes of pure bliss, each stroke brought relief to my tired body. By the time it was over, I was in a complete state of relaxation.
What best way to end this small retreat but with a feast. I went to The Common Good, their buffet restaurant, and waited until 4:00 p.m. for the buffet to open. For like 30 minutes, I had the buffet all to myself that I couldn’t help but ask the staff how come there were no other people around. They said that people usually don’t start coming in until 5:00 p.m.
I had a blast eating to my heart’s content. I was particularly taken by the cheeses, they were marvelous, also the sushis, I’ve gobbled as much as I could. I think I might have overdone it because, by the time I left the restaurant, I was bursting through my pants.
All in all, I had a grand time at I’M Onsen Spa. Every penny I spent was worth it, definitely an amazing way to celebrate my birthday.
- Come to the spa at least 1 hour early so you have time to enjoy the onsen facilities before your treatment. You will still be charged in full whether you’ve used up all your time or not, so don’t be late.
- Buffet doesn’t start until 4:00 p.m., it’s best to book your spa day in the afternoon. The last call is at 9:30 p.m. and the buffet closes down at 10:00 p.m.
- Get a reservation. I have a friend who said that he walked in one time but there was no slot available so to ensure you will be accommodated, call or book your reservation online.
I’m Onsen Spa
7852 Makati Avenue
UG Floor I’M Hotel
Poblacion, Makati, 1210 Metro Manila
Contact no: (02) 755 7877
Business Hours: Mon – Thu: 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m. / Fri – Sun: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 a.m.