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One of the drawbacks to donning the reviewer's hat is that one is constantly writing in one's head. In the midst of a scrumptious meal in an exotic corner of the world, when most people would be casting their cares to the breeze and savoring the experience to the fullest, the curse of the critic is that he can't stop turning over phrases for a future article.
Which is why it was with mild trepidation that I turned my body over to the staff at the health club of Jerusalem's Inbal Hotel. There I found myself, nose down on the table, grunting and sweating under a duo of deft hands delving into my back for a deep tissue massage, and all I could think was, "What does this feel like?"
But then, as a surprisingly assertive elbow sliced past my shoulder blade en route to my neck, with a rush of exquisite pain I died a small death, suddenly surrendering to the potent pleasure of having the tension squeezed out of my every fiber--some I had even forgotten existed. And when my hour was done, having been thoroughly beaten up, rubbed down, kneaded and pinched, top to toe, back to front and back again, I could barely stumble to my feet. I told my wife, who had been going through Heaven knows what on the table beside me, that a few minutes more of the same and one would need levitation skills to get one's bare bod into robe and slippers. It felt great.
Slowly shuffling back into our mortal coils, we gave ourselves pause to take in our tidy surroundings in the couple's treatment room, with its spacious bath and warm candle-lit ambiance, making special note of the oversized shower head, enough for a more than ample post-treatment shpritz.
Outside, over tea and cookies, we sat down with the manager of the health club, Dr. Ran Bibi, who with an easy charm apprised us of the various treatments offered to hotel guests and outside visitors alike. Among the options were deep tissue, Swedish (both NIS 320) and Thai (NIS 490 for 90 minutes) massages as well as facials (NIS 420), aromatherapy (NIS 330) and hot stone treatments (NIS 330). However, hands down (pun intended), what most fired up our imaginations was the prospect of the Four Hand Massage (NIS 590), which, just as it sounds, consists of two masseuses simultaneously working on their fortunate subject.
The health club includes a fitness room and a variety of daily classes. Naturally, the facility also offers a sauna and steam room, as well as a jacuzzi and entry to the hotel pool.
Deeply satisfied but fully famished, we decided to turn in our robes and slippers for more mundane attire and teeter upstairs to take our evening meal at the hotel's Sophia restaurant. I, for one, resolved to leave the critic in me inert on the massage table, throw off the pale cast of thought, and delve full-heartedly into the flavorsome fare. After all, I mused, Sophia was one review I had already written.The writer was a guest of the Inbal Hotel health club.