Living in Los Angeles, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the hip factor of it all. From gyms to salons to restaurants, it gets exhausting just trying to measure up to the local standards of cool, beauty and attitude. When you go for a massage, the last thing you want is to be anxious about your cred. Instead, you want to relax and let go of all the judgment.

El León may just be manna from heaven in this department. This unique Thai spa, with a focus on healing, spirituality and holistic medicine, made me breath a sigh of relief from the moment I walked in.

Owner Barry Walker (also the proprietor of the Raven Spa in Silver Lake; showcases his unusual vision for El León by providing an authentic, Asian spa experience, from the indigenous products brought into the country by his Thai masseurs to the Ayurvedic facial, “the only spa in L.A. to do this true, Indian facial.”

For once, my multi-tasking brain could hang out a gone fishin’ sign and let loose. As I entered the healing center, the traditional music, warm décor and earthy smells all conspired to relax my weary muscles.

I dropped my city garb for a T-shirt and comfy Thai pants – the better to be massaged and manipulated. My masseuse, Panuch Wonthongdee, explained the basics of the treatment to me and told me to rest and let her guide my limbs. Nurturing and soft, Wonthongdee still managed to knead my neck into oblivion.

Afterward, Wonthongdee brought hot tea, fruit and a delicious date that brought me that much closer to Shangri-La.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I was so laid-back, my shirt was inside out. Talk about leaving your worries behind.

For more information, call (323) 782-9582 or visit