S.F.’s top day spas
This 9,000-square-foot spa in the St. Regis Hotel features nine well-appointed treatment rooms, as well as his-and-hers saunas, jacuzzis, steam rooms and lounges. The customized facials use products from Intraceuticals and Omorovicza, and the suite of massages spans Swedish, sports, deep tissue, and hot stone varieties. (Athletes wear by the Bay to Breakers massage, a targeted, high-pressure rubdown designed to ease runners’ aches.) Afterwards, nab a complimentary glass of the free-flowing champagne and head up to the pool. The gorgeous, glass-walled space is bordered by a spacious deck and fringed by comfy outdoor loungers affording views of SoMA. It’s open 24 hours to guests, which makes it a popular spot for scenic midnight dips.
Sure, its location—in Westfield mall near the tourist hub of Union Square—doesn’t exactly scream luxury. Trust us: Once inside, this Parisian-inspired spa will make you forget where you are. Its shopping center locale means it’s uncommonly spacious, touting 16,500-square-feet decked with white marble and rosewood. The spa features four nail stations, six facial rooms and 15 massage rooms, which makes it a popular spot for bridal parties and groups. Kick back in front of the fireplace in the chandelier-strung lounge, then head back to the jacuzzi and steam room. The services run the gamut, from a decadent, candlelit private bath to the Hunter’s Retreat, which includes hydrotherapy, an exfoliating scrub and a massage performed with essential oils of your choice.
Owner Sarah Redmond founded this Bay Area spa in 2007; now she also runs sister locations in Oakland, Russian Hill and Union Square. You’ll find no cheesy accents or outdated decor here. The pristine space is soothingly modern, aglow with lanterns and swathed in wood. The spa claims a loyal following for its skin-brightening dermaplaning facials using a tailored potion of lotions, masks, and serums by Decleor, Latisse and Skinceuticals. (You can also add an alpha beta peel, oxygen blast or glycolic acid peel to any treatment.) It pays to be a regular: Join the membership program and receive 20 percent off weekly, bi-monthly or monthly massages.
Though this landmark Nob Hill hotel has been in business since the 1920s, it underwent a $15 million facelift a few years back. Now the renovated three-story spa includes a gym, steam room, sauna, meditation room and nine private treatment rooms. Well-heeled regulars swear by the anti-aging facials, which incorporate product lines from Decleor, Luzern, Babor and Darphin, as well as the classic, thorough Swedish and Thai-style massages. In warmer months, the destination-worthy spot is worth splurging on purely for the glass-encased infinity pool, where the roof deck affords sweeping views of the city.
This sleek city spa and yoga studio is known for expert skincare. Estheticians specialize in skin-specific regimens, using products from Arcona, IS Clinical and In Fiore. Opt for the In Fiore facial, which includes a series of herb and plant extracts, skin-tingling active enzymes and alpha-hydroxy acids. Though it’s located off a bustling strip of Fillmore, the spa feels like a true retreat, outfitted with reclaimed teak floors, leather benches and a roaring fireplace (and if you’re in the market for a true retreat, the spa has another location in Marin). In the summer, guests can kick back on the beautiful, landscaped outdoor deck in back. Swedish, Thai, hot stone and deep tissue massages are performed with your choice of jasmine, geranium, bergamot or lavender essential oils. Even the facials are capped with a mini-massage.
This is the antithesis of the typical glossy hotel spa. Founded by Denmo Ibrahim, a massage therapist, meditation instructor and herbalist, Earthbody’s vibe is inviting, introspective and holistic, from the colorful tapestries adorning the walls to the stacks of poetry tomes and platters of dried fruit and nuts. Ibrahim’s welcoming philosophy is apparent as soon as you step foot in the door: You’ll be greeted with a freshly brewed cup of rose tea, a lemongrass-scented hot towel and a proverb. The in-house Earthbody product line is formulated from plant-based organic ingredients like rosehip, chamomile and lavender. In particular, the spa is known for its 90-minute rituals, which include a full-body scrub, a skin brushing and a tailored massage.
A former army barrack may not seem like the most obvious place for an escape, but this huge spa has transformed its army digs into a Zen hideaway. The 13,000-square-foot complex encompasses steam rooms, an infrared sauna and 14 treatment rooms offering services spanning acupuncture, body treatments, massages and facials. Founder David Spencer is a collector of Eastern art and a firm believer in holistic wellness—treatments like the Gua Sha Stone massage are based on ancient Asian healing practices. The bamboo-bordered lounge is a lovely place to spend the day, whether in front of the cyclone fireplace or in the lush private garden.
Owners Caroline Smith and Sunny Simmons, an artist and a furniture builder, respectively, opened this Tenderloin haven in 2016 after a cross-country tour soaking in bathhouses across Japan. The resulting space is beautifully designed—all the more surprising for its past life as a former auto mechanic’s garage. In front, you’ll find a teahouse and restaurant; in back, a skylit, plant-laden oasis that includes six private treatment rooms for massage, facials and Reiki; a 104-degree communal soaking tub (the former mechanic’s pit); a redwood-cedar sauna; a steam room and cold plunge showers. Your bathing experience here will depend on the day: Wednesday and Thursdays are bathing-suit optional, though Wednesdays are for men only and Thursdays are solely for women. (Bath products, towels, robes and hot tea are complimentary.) The beauty is in the artful details, from the glowing wall of Himalayan pink salt in the sauna to the steam room’s black and white zigzag tile inspired by California artist Orr Marshall.
This spa atop the Vitale Hotel may be comparatively small, but its intimacy is part of its appeal. Three comfortable massage rooms are adorned with plush beds and floral accents. But the real draw is what happens outside on the roof deck. Settle into an open-air, deep-soaking infinity tub for the spa’s luxurious bathing ritual. Lit by lanterns and strewn with rose petals, the setting is tranquil and the treatment is entirely self-driven—you control everything from the temperature to the tea. Lavender rose bath salts and a generous platter of seasonal fruit is on the house. Afterwards, soak up some sun on the patio and garden overlooking the Ferry Building and downtown.
This beloved bathhouse and spa feels like a jaunt to Japan without the pricey flight. Be forewarned: It’s not for the shy or body-conscious. Though swimwear is optional, most all attendees go nude. (Men and women are welcome on alternating days.) The low-lit communal baths include a hot tub, pool, cold plunge pool, sauna and steam room. Private treatment rooms are also available for massages, ginger and seaweed body wraps, facials and acupuncture. Book the Javanese Lulur treatment, which starts with a turmeric and rice scrub and ends with a fragrant, flower-strewn private bath.