Relaxation Treat: Cocoon Urban Spa

Whether you’re in Athens for a day or forever, it’s great to know there’s a place such as Cocoon Urban Spa where you can receive top-quality therapies for face and body, either as a one-off treat or as a course of treatments that bring results. 

As someone who has been passionately interested in holistic wellness for decades, I was among the very first to visit Cocoon Urban Spa when it opened 20 years ago. In my post-lockdown slump, I headed over there to try some renewing and reviving therapies that could facilitate the process of returning to the land of the living. 

My Own Experience: Tried & Tested!

I tried the CBD Oil Massage and the vitamin C Facial, in that order. I arrived stressed out from work, life, and a year+ of lockdown inertia and was ready to surrender to the hands of the spa’s skilled therapists. I was not disappointed. The CBD Oil Massage is a head-to-toe therapy using an ingredient that has become widely lauded for its effects in reducing anxiety and muscular pain. The therapist used strong yet caring strokes to ease away my blocks and gracefully accepted my invitation to converse about the therapy itself and various other personal questions regarding my body’s health. I was impressed not only by the fantastically relaxing experience but also by her depth of knowledge and charm. 

Next, was the Vitamin C Facial, which involves a face cleansing (with Murad products, not hands or a machine) and a reviving massage that help a strong dose of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is considered to leave the skin glowing because it stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, accelerating healing and removing fine lines to reveal skin freshness, brightness, plumpness, and shine. Again, the aesthetician kindly explained the entire process to me and offered me extra tips for my skin type and beauty routine. 

I certainly left Cocoon Urban Spa feeling as dreamy and relaxed as I’d hoped, with skin that glowed for days and has improved in texture ever since. 

NOTE: Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my swimsuit along, so I missed out on the chance to enjoy the sauna, steam room, and jacuzzi, but there’s always the next time!


While at the Spa, I stopped for a chat with Maria Poulada, the co-owner of Cocoon who together with her sister has led it to develop and evolve into a truly fantastic place of holistic wellness for Athenians and visitors alike.

Getting to Know Cocoon Urban Spa: Q & A with Maria Poulada

How has the wellness scene in Greece changed since you first opened 20 years ago?
It has broadened and multiplied, which is great. However, more and more schools and Yoga Teacher Training programs are churning out “therapists” and unfortunately, during my recruiting efforts, I’ve seen that the quality has dropped significantly, and inexperienced teachers and masseuses are being absorbed by the market and lowering the standard. 

Where do your therapists train?
Most of our therapists are very skilled and have studied Natural Health Science. It’s one of the oldest and most respected schools in Attica. I usually ask the teachers from that school to recommend grads for me and it’s worked out great.

Who are your customers?
Cocoon Urban Spa has a wide range of customers, from people who come for a profound life-change (to decrease chronic stress or pain, improve sleep, etc.) and visit us on a regular basis and then there are people who come once a year to treat themselves on their birthdays or to give a gift. I think we are the only place in the city that offers a truly holistic wellness approach, passive and dynamic therapy, encompassing treatments, yoga, acupuncture, and homeopathy.

What would you recommend as The Ultimate treatment for post-lockdown stress?
It’s a bit subjective. Some would say it’s the Shirodhara or any classic massage. For me, personally, it’s Yoga. The Hatsumomo is a terrific overall detox treatment and if you couple it with a deep cleansing facial or a Renewing Facial, you’ll look and feel brand new! The CBD oil massage is deeply relaxing and works well for anxiety-related stress.

What kind of products do you use for treatments?
We’ve remained very old-school, sticking to our philosophy of hands-on therapy and natural products. It’s vital to use the highest-quality products for massages and facials. We’ve been using Decleor and Jurlique for ages because they’re natural, organic, and biodynamic. Also, the quality is terrific. You relax just by smelling them and the results are fantastic.

As published in In+sights Greece (www.insightsgreece.com)

Home - Cocoon Urban Day Spa
Cocoon Urban Spa is on Souliou 9 & Erifilis Str, Halandri, Athens. Email : info@cocoonurbanspa.gr &
phone : 210 6561975

fourfold massage bliss

The treatment room at the Electra Palace Hotel's Aegeo Spas
The treatment room at the Electra Palace Hotel’s Aegeo Spas

My latest Tried & Tested experience was a four-hands Lucky Treatment at the swanky Electra Palace Hotel, at the Aegeo Spas. Although I have tried and tested massage therapies at some of the world’s best spas – such as the Pimalay Resort in Thailand, Amansara in Cambodia, Ryokan in Japan, Grande Bretagne in Athens – as well as a colourful and impressive variety of smaller wellness centres and quirky, off-road therapy retreats both near and far, I had never experienced a four hands massage. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to do so, but for some surreal reason it never appealed enough. What really piqued my interest in the Lucky Treatment, also known as the Wish Massage was its enchanting concept. Not just a massage carried out by two therapists but an entire ritual in which the client is asked to make a wish at the beginning of the therapy, this had a spiritual element that I could not resist. I feel sorry for those who cynically scorn “magical thinking” – in fact, I think being able to practice it, (with measure of course because we always need to remain grounded to a basic degree) is a superpower that offers strength, resilience, the ongoing capability to dream your world into being, and an important connection to creativity, to the magic that lies within us.

Upon entering Aegeo Spas in the Electra Palace Hotel

The Electra Palace Spa is not fancy or huge, but it’s luxurious, with a relaxing  ambience of dim lights and dreamy aromas. The staff are all extremely warm, professional and comfortingly familial, so as soon as I arrived, very excited about my massage booking no doubt, I felt right at home. After 15 minutes in and out of a hot sauna, I wrapped myself in a fluffy white robe and was greeted by smiling massage therapists Kalliopi and Bora, both beaming and presenting me with a lit candle. In the therapy room, I was asked to make a wish and then blow out the candle. I had thought about my wish while in the sauna and the objective now was to focus on it gently during the therapy too.

Aegeo Spas Electra Palace Hotel Athens
Skilled therapists Kalliopi and Bora who gave me the Lucky Treatment greet me with a lit candle so I can make my wish.

At first I was in mind-mode and got myself into a little spiral of paranoid thinking: “What if they are looking at each other and making faces?” Then I decided to tell my mind to shut the hell up and try and focus on what I actually felt. Starting from my legs, the therapists kneaded and pressed all the tension out of my limbs in perfect synchronisation. “It is like a dance,” Bora told me, that we choreograph spontaneously as we work!” Their movements came in flow with the music that was playing, which made the experience even more immersive as I lay feeling aware of their synchronised massage, the emotive but not overwhelming music, and how I felt.

So how did I actually feel? Like I’d never felt before during a massage. It was as though I had been taken into the hands of some mythological creature that was floating and flying me around while I happily surrendered (if it had been a mythological creature I don’t think I would have been as relaxed!). At various points one therapist began where the other had ended, so there was an ongoing flow of movement, like deep, calming waves of relaxing tranquility. When one therapist massaged my head and the other my feet, I could do nothing but feel that even if the wish I’d made at the start of the treatment was not realised, I was nonetheless experiencing a wish come true, one I’d made a few hundred times on nights when my son wouldn’t sleep, or when I crouched over my laptop trying to finish off an article. I could sense that they were not going through the motions, but instead were working with giving and dedication to help me feel good, and at the end of the session I felt so blissed – and blessed – that my only wish was that these two wonderful individuals have all of their wishes come true!

One and a half hours of the session are focused on the body, while the last half hour is centred on the head (where you think of your wish) and face, with special attention to the lips (from which you speak your wish) and the eyes (from which you see your wish manifest). A cleansing and glow-inducing mask is slathered indulgently onto the skin, and if the client accepts, the head and hair is massaged with hot olive oil. Unsurprisingly, I was pretty spaced out after the therapy, but putting on the clothes that define who I am I soon regained my urban instincts and got back to ordinary life. Not that after that experience I felt ordinary in any way, shape or form.

In the Lucky Treatment, 1+1 = 4!

secrets of a top therapist

Since the historical Grande Bretagne Hotel Spa opened in 2003, Vasso Prepa has treated thousands of guests, many of them exhausted professionals or high-flying VIPs seeking the most qualitative ways to destress and re-energize via the multitude of sophisticated therapies and treatments on offer at the luxurious hotel. As the Head Therapist at the GB Spa, Prepa has learned and discovered a great deal about holistic wellness, herself and the world. Here she talks to I’m Very Well Thank You and gracefully shares a snippet of her 20 years of rich experience.

“I was always drawn to discovering the essence of things, not basing myself on the superficial. Whenever I meet people, what interests me most is what their true intent is, and I am especially drawn to those with a positive one. In order to exchange energy in such a way, my work was exactly what I needed, as it is based on giving and receiving energy.

“I started by having a great interest in Reiki, and then also energy massage. The Ayurveda therapies that we do here are very much based on energy healing; by pressing the Marma Points on the body we are working directly with physical and emotional energy. The points we work on differ depending on the needs of each client. In Europe there is a great focus on working on relieving stress via Ayurvedic therapies, as that’s the greatest malaise of the Western world today, while in India they work on different Ayurvedic therapies, many of which are based on cleansing the body in various ways.

A treatment room at the luxurious Grande Bretagne Spa.
A treatment room at the luxurious Grande Bretagne Spa.

“It’s been 20 years since I started my journey in holistic therapies-I have studied and practiced many different healing disciplines. I have been at the Grande Bretagne Spa since the first day it opened in 2003, and have offered therapies to thousands of people since – all kinds of people with all kinds of energy. Global celebrities, royalty, political personalities and other notable people have passed through my hands. It’s impressive how some of the most powerful people keep their energy very tightly closed off and protected from the outer world, or have a very different frequency from regular people.


“Before starting a therapy I practice certain techniques to protect my energy by doing certain prayers
 – it has taken years of experience to be able to do that effectively. I have met some people who have an extremely powerful energy – you feel it as soon as you touch them.

“What I’ve perceived in people in the world today throughout the years is that increasingly, people cannot seem to relish in deep joy or authentic pleasure of their life despite how much power or money they may have. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that because of how western society has developed they feel they should always have more. Some people manage to acknowledge this incongruence in their life and opt to change path by leaving behind a certain lifestyle and changing the work they do or going to live outside of the city in a more natural way.

“I make a point of having as much contact with nature as I can, in order to rebalance myself. More people with a particular level of consciousness are waking up to the need for finding heartfelt satsfaction in the simple things, like the daily exchange they have with people, or in nature, and living more in the now. Greeks are finally starting to recognise how valuable complimentary medicine and alternative therapies are; they are understanding what really matters – not just material things but in offering something meaningful to others through relationships and exchanges. Being able to give and receive is an art one has to cultivate – it is based on generating a balanced flow of energy.

GB Head Therapist Vasso Prepa
GB Head Therapist Vasso Prepa.

“My day starts with a good stretching session, to tone up my muscles and relieve stress. My work can create a lot of muscle tension so I need to keep my body strong, flexible and agile. Swimming is also very therapeutic for me so I enjoy it whenever I can. I eat a protein-rich breakfast – I adore Greek honey, tahini, eggs. I also love ginger and use it throughout the day, I drink ginger tea every day. On average I do around five therapies every day, some of which are two hours long, and in summer I’m busy throughout the day – our spa menu is one of the largest in Greece, so there are a huge variety of treatments to choose from.

“Working as a healing therapist has changed me as an individual on a very profound level. I am far more patient, more stoic, and I able to forgive far more easily – I think forgiveness is a vital key to a rewarding existence.

“Patience is essential if you want to learn to be a good therapist, but you need to have a calling for it too. If you feel a calling for healing, you should follow it. It’s also important to try learning via a variety of therapies, in order to find the one that suits you best as a practitioner.  Start slowly, and gradually move through various levels of therapies; Ayurveda is the top level of therapies as it requires a great deal of experience, practice and study. It also requires a lot of inner strength in order to offer it.”