PETALING JAYA: Tired of waiting for Japan’s borders to fully reopen for an authentic “onsen” experience? Then head on over to Urban Retreat Onsen, where the centuries-old Japanese bathing tradition meets Malaysian spa practices.
Nestled in upscale Mont Kiara, Urban Retreat provides hot-spring lovers with a hygienic and private alternative. Touted as the first to bring hot “mineral water” to the country, the day spa is an oasis in a concrete jungle.
Here, customers can look forward to a private bathroom all to themselves. The aesthetics of “wabi-sabi” – the appreciation of beauty in all that is imperfect, incomplete, and impermanent – will surely bring calmness to one’s mind.
Complete with warm lighting, a single-sized tub filled with hot water and imported salts, a shower area, and Urban Retreat’s very own line of toiletries at your disposal, you will want for nothing but some peace and quiet once the 45-minute session begins.
Urban Retreat Onsen, which opened in June 2019, is back in business after unofficial reopenings over the past two years.
Operations manager Brigitte Lu admits they were “quite ambitious” when they came up with the idea but wanted to make sure they stood out from the crowd.
“All our tubs, for example, are made from imported Hinoki Pine, a precious commodity scarcely used even in Japan because of its ridiculously expensive price,” she tells FMT.
“There are so many luxury day spas offering the same treatments here. We wanted people to spend more than an hour or two at our spa, and thought nothing would be better than being a pioneer of a private onsen experience.”
Besides the imported salts and scrubs, it’s the little details that differentiate the spa from hot springs, such as the ambience, lighting, and even flooring.
“Communal hot springs can be fun, but being alone in a dark, almost soundproof room can make one forget about even the most stressful things,” Lu muses.
There are three types of bath salts available: Zen, if you’re looking to destress; Kirei, for beautiful, smoother skin; and Iyashi, for healing.
The latter is popular among athletes as it is the most effective at reducing inflammation and relieving sports-induced injuries.
First-timers are highly encouraged to start with the water at 40°C, whereas seasoned visitors are welcome to soak in 42°C temperatures.
“The effect Hinoki wood has on the water is that it keeps the temperature constant. There is actually no need to go for 42°C unless you love hot baths,” says marketing executive Layla Ednirwan.
The best part is that an onsen soak costs just RM129 and can be a standalone or repeat experience.
“Our customers can choose when they want to do it,” she adds. “For some, it is a monthly need. For those who aren’t down to splurge, they come back maybe once a year.”
Urban Retreat Onsen
Lot 2F, 163 Retail Park
07, 8, Jalan Kiara
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Business hours: 11am-8pm daily
To experience the private onsen yourself, contact Urban Retreat via Whatsapp.