When most people think about relaxing in Miami Beach, the image of being sprawled out in the sunshine, slathered in sunblock and dressed in a bathing suit, is what immediately comes to mind. But many visitors and locals enjoy unwinding in a different way: with an indulgent spa treatment. As the city's seemingly endless list of chic hotels continues to expand, so does its array of spas, many of which offer truly top-notch treatments. Here's a rundown of the best of the best. Each is worth a zen-like trip, even if you've got to hop in a taxi from the hotel you're staying in to get there.
The Standard Hotel: The Standard Spa
Although the Standard Hotel's lobby has the reputation of being hipster central, once you head upstairs to its expansive spa, you might just feel like you're in a secluded foreign resort rather than on the edge of South Beach. The focal point of the spa is the giant Hamam, a huge communal tiled area with steam, mud, and a waterfall hot tub.
Many of the spa's long list of treatments really integrate (and optimize) the facilities, like the so-called Soul Temple ritual, a multi-step two hour experience that's simply blissful from beginning (with a Red Flower mint salt wash) to neroli-scented end. Although it attracts plenty of visitors, the Standard Spa is extremely popular with locals, who pick a day pass ($40 weekdays; $75 weekends) to enjoy the facilities (which also include a gym and pool) even without springing for a treatment.
A bit farther north is the Acqualina, an Italian-inspired hotel that's more of a calm, stay-on-the-property resort than many bustling South Beach properties. Even if you're staying in SoBe, it's worth a trip here to visit its large ESPA spa. This is the type of welcoming spa that encourages you to stay and unwind after your treatment ends, and actually encourages guests to come an hour early to lounge on the sundeck and use the mellow spa pool.
In addition to the massages and facials you'd expect, this ESPA recently introduced several treatments using a new patented machine with both micro-electrical current and LED light that helps make the face and body appear younger (according to fans including, we're told, Jennifer Lopez.)
Soho Beach House: Cowshed Spa
You don't need to be a member of the stylish (and private) Soho Beach House to book a treatment at Cowshed Miami Beach, but the spa's still likely to make you feel like a VIP. (You do need to be a guest at the hotel, though.)
Tucked upstairs at Soho Beach House, a vibrant hotel with, indeed, a club members' section, the specialty here is top-notch service (even if you opt for their speedy treatments, essentially two services done simultaneously to save time) in a chic setting that's conducive to throwing off your flip-flops and enjoying a glass of post-treatment champagne. Speaking of which, they also offer a Morning After facial, ideal if you overindulged the night before, as is tempting in Miami Beach.
The Delano Hotel: Agua Spa
The Delano Hotel ushered in a slew of imitators (in Miami Beach and beyond) when it opened in 1994. And its Agua Spa is still considered by many to be the best place to unwind in the heart of South Beach.
In a crisp, clean, extra-white surrounding, Agua offers unique takes on classic treatments, like its Blue Kashmir-Saphir facial, which includes a cleavage massage (yes that is a massage of one's décolleté) with oil infused with genuine sapphires (but of course). Insider-favorite beauty brands, like sjal and Kesari, are also used in many of the treatments here, which are a great way to get ready for a night on the town.
Photo credits: The Standard Hotel Miami: André Balazs Properties; Acqualina courtesy of Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach; Cowshed Spa courtesy of Soho House Group; The Agua Spa in the Delano Hotel, Miami: Morgans Hotel Group