New York offers the thrill-seeker something exciting at every turn, but finding an oasis from the constant stimulation and press of human beings in ‘the city that never sleeps’ can be a little more elusive. Dig a little deeper than the cheap and cheerful manicurists on seemingly every corner and you’ll find a world of head-to-toe pampering and relaxation that only the Big Apple can deliver.
Aire Ancient Baths (88 Franklin Street, TriBeCa. Phone: 212-274-3777)
A review in Forbes magazine posed the question, “what did the hedonistic Roman bath fans in Manhattan do before this?” Aire Ancient Baths is one of the most beautiful and considered spas I’ve ever experienced. Located in a former textiles factory in the heart of Manhattan, the Baths celebrate the most precious of commodities in the city – space. Entry into the candle-lit Baths made of imported Spanish marble is a feast for the senses. Reservations are essential and bookings are limited per session to ensure the promise of serenity. The two-hour time slot allows enough time to soak in the baths – which include hot, cold, warm and salt baths, a jet spa and steam room – and soothe aching muscles and a lagging spirit with a massage. Treatments range from relaxing 15-minute massages to double-time red wine, champagne and olive oil ‘Rituals’. This is a not-to-be-missed New York experience.
Russian & Turkish Baths (268 East 10th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A. Phone: 212-674-9250)
The response to Forbes magazine’s question about what did New Yorkers do before Aire arrived is probably here. Built in 1892, the Russian & Turkish Baths in the East Village are still a popular choice for New Yorkers seeking a de-stressing soak, scrub and pummel. The Baths offer treatments ranging from Swedish and Russian body massages, dead sea salt scrubs, black mud treatments and the signature Platza Oak Leaf treatment – a beating with oak leaves described by some as a ‘religious experience’.
The Shibui Spa (The Greenwich Hotel, 377 Greenwich St. Phone: 212-941-8900)
Located in Robert de Niro’s luxury Greenwich Hotel, the Shibui Spa offers a combination TriBeCa chic and Zen luxury. The Spa includes a traditional Japanese bathing room with tatami mat floors and a lantern-lit swimming pool and lounge under the roof of a 250-year old wood and bamboo farmhouse that has been reconstructed in the hotel by Japanese craftsmen. The Spa menu celebrates the Five Element theory in traditional Eastern Medicine with a range of face and body treatments including traditional Japanese Shiatsu and Chinese reflexology. After feasting on the Spa menu, head to the hotel’s Locanda Verde restaurant for an indulgence of the foodie kind.
Guerlain Spa (19th Floor, Waldorf Astoria, 301 Park Avenue. Phone: 212-872-7200)
The famous Waldorf Astoria hotel is also home to the renowned Guerlain Spa. Befitting its Park Avenue address the chandelier-studded Spa is a glittering haven of luxury and the ultimate in Manhattan’s pampering hotel spa experiences. The spa menu includes a range of customized face and body treatments for men and women including the specialist ‘Moroccan Melt’ therapy with Guerlain’s ‘hypnotic’ hair treatment, signature soak and blend of body therapies for the ultimate in relaxation.
Kimara Ahnert (1113 Madison Ave (83rd St.) Phone: 212-452-4252).
This French-inspired salon on Madison Avenue was created by make up artist, Kimara Ahnert, to feel like a comfortably elegant home. The salon is particularly well known for makeup artistry and pre-wedding treatments, but also offers a range of facial and body treatments using the Epicuren organic skin care range. The ‘Red Carpet Ready’ treatment including a ‘turbo’ facial and makeup application is the perfect express combo before hitting the town for a big night out.
Bumbleand Bumble (415 West 13th Street. Phone 212-521-6500)
More a hair empire than a salon, Bumble and Bumble’s architectural feat includes a hairdressing school, shop, café, hair library and museum. In the flagship public salon on the seventh floor you’ll be treated to celebrity-style snip, colour and blow-dry with floor-to-ceiling views over the Hudson River. Afterwards, take your new coiffeur and whatever you have left in your wallet to lunch at the famous Pastis bistro before a shopping splurge in the Meatpacking District.
Tips for planning your spa break
- Make sure you book well ahead of time – it is New York after all.
- Taxes are added to the published price and an additional tip of 15-20% is expected, usually in cash. Note at hairdressing salons you are expected to tip each individual service provided.
- Check what you need to bring with you – most spas provide towels, showering and grooming products, but you will need to bring a swimsuit with you on most occasions.