Just as the English could not do great food for years as a nation we could not get our head round massages for decades either, writes Steve Zacharanda.

Perhaps it was our straight laced but tittering nature that kept massages in the 1960s and 70s the preserve of the "kinky" set, something to giggle about but not admit too.

But I love a good massage, the trouble is the best ones I've ever had have always been thousands of miles away from England.

Massages in Thailand and India just feel part of the day, something normal to do and those massaging feel like they were born to do it.

And though the beauty and pampering sector has mushroomed in the last 20 years the massages I've had closer to home though have normally been a let down and cost a half-hearted rubbed arm and a leg.

The trouble is with my previous massages in England is they were often done by a woman called Sharon who has done a beauty NVQ at nightschool, wears too much perfume and who thinks a CD of dolphin noises is spiritual. And those are the ones I've had at five star hotels.

And as for the massages in poky rooms above curry houses or betting shops, well the less said the better. They never had a happy beginning or middle let alone ending.

With that in mind I was not expecting too much from a “revolutionary and unique” new massage using “self warming shells”.

The Club and Spa at The Cube in Birmingham city centre offers a full menu of treatments including body wraps, deep tissue massages and even pro-collagen quartz lift facial. Their brochure has plenty of offers for men, women and couples. And the champagne nail bar also seems to be doing a roaring trade.

Just a hop, skip and a jump from bustling Broad Street the spa feels a world away from the packed streets of Birmingham. The attractive staff make guests feel welcome and combine both effortless chic and concern for your health.

After a swim and steam my time came for the revolutionary lava shell massage. The shells are filled with warm liquid and fit perfectly in the palm of the masseuse's hand. It is the natural evolution of the once popular “stone massages” which feel like, well, stones on your skin.

But as soon as my massuse got underway I knew this would be the best massage I've had in Blighty.

The sensation feels like warm liquid being constantly poured over the skin, which is incredible as this was all done without getting wet.

I was given the option of varying pressures and went for the hardest one and it felt wonderful as my knots and niggles disappeared.

The relaxing nature of the experience meant I dropped off to sleep for about ten minutes, but what a feeling to wake up to.

The full body massage lasted an hour and though it is a cliché I did feel brand new afterwards.

Wandering out of the Club and Spa in the Cube I wondered which of its great restaurants to eat at, and thought there is no doubt this country is improving.

Now whether your stomach needs filling or rubbing then there are great places in Birmingham for both.

For more information about lava shell massages visit www.theclubandspabirmingham.co.uk