By S. S. Fair
For big-city dwellers—like those of us who live in or travel to New York City—a simple crosstown bus jaunt in rush hour, complete with ambulances screeching through red lights, can translate to a need for a quick-fix, on-the-spot R & R session, long before your next vacation can properly deliver the goods.
Luckily, there are pockets of tranquility within easy reach in the Big Apple, no travel to far-off lands required. Look to luxury spas boasting all manner of treatments to iron out urban kinks, dispel stress, and soothe the savage beast with a little tender loving care. Naturally, it'll cost you, but when you need a quick trip to "Anywhere but Here," try one of these four posh sanctuaries.
The Shibui Spa
The Greenwich Hotel has hidden in its depths The Shibui Spa, a beautifully designed, Japanese-inspired gem, trimmed with antique wood, rice paper, lantern lights, and bamboo. There's an onsen (a tub typical to Japanese hot springs' resorts) in one treatment room, primed for a relaxing soak, as well as a heated pool and eucalyptus steam rooms. Opt for first-class facials using Natura Bisse products, or seasonal body scrubs and massages. If the concept of feng shui hadn't registered with you before, Shibui Spa is its very embodiment.
The Mandarin Oriental Spa
Another spa with an Eastern slants sits on a 35th-floor perch, set high above the frenzy of bustling Columbus Circle below. The Mandarin Oriental Spa (at the Mandarin Oriental hotel) sets the bar higher still, with treatments that peak with The Clearing Factor, a three- to four-hour work over incorporating sheer bliss: lymphatic drainage therapy, exfoliation with Dead Sea salts, a body wrap in black Neem clay, cupping (an ancient technique used to remove toxins), and a Swedish massage for good measure. Or, try the Mandarin's Opulent Rejuvenescence facial, utilizing microcurrents, peels, LED lights, and the Dr. Ivo Pitanguy skin care line for immediate results.
Guerlain's Spa at the Waldorf Astoria is a dazzling wonderland straight out of an Auntie Mame set: chandeliers, crisp white-and-beige decor, and every manner of Guerlain-enhanced products to keep you looking rich and famous (even if you're not). The two-hour Orchidee Imperiale facial puts the "treat" in treatment, and will leave you looking like you've been resting up in Mustique all winter long.
Kimara Ahnert's salon on Madison Avenue specializes in makeup and wedding preparations. It's a dollhouse of a spot and very stylishly French-inspired, with facial and skin care treatments that are downright spa-worthy and affordable. Conducted upstairs in a private room, microdermabrasion sessions strip away city grime and leave your skin smooth and glowing. The cutting-edge, all-natural Epicuren skin care line is deployed here to great effect; it's one of the few spots in NYC where you can purchase the line. I never had a better facial in NYC.
Thinking of a trip to New York City?
For up-to-the-minute hotel and restaurant recommendations, plus the best planning advice, check out our online New York City Travel Guide.
Photo Credit: Courtesy Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group