It seems we can’t get enough of day spas and spa resorts. In 2014 alone, Americans racked up 176 million visits to these indulgent retreats, according to the International Spa Association. Though many luxury hotels have equally amazing spas (we’re looking at you, Mandarin Oriental and Four Seasons), we’ve narrowed the field to focus mainly on independent establishments or small chains. From affordable treatments in NYC to A-list pampering in LA, these prime places offer the finest facials, massages and body treatments. So lie back, breath deeply and just relax. Follow Time Out USA on Facebook; sign up for the Time Out USA newsletter
Best spas in America
Blackberry Farm has welcomed overnight guests and foodies since the late 1970s, but its spa component, Wellhouse, opened in June 2014. Nonetheless, the rustic stone-and-wood building feels like it’s been there forever, and the spa and wellness menus are hardly afterthoughts. From aquafit to Zumba, a wide range of fitness activities is available, alongside lifestyle lectures and “forest bathing” (guided hikes and meditation in the woods—it’s all the rage, doncha know?). Meanwhile, treatments with such tempting names as Lavender and Vanilla Bourbon Body Drench will have your muscles unclenching—and your mouth watering—before you’ve even set foot in the door. Bucolic bliss.
Signature service: Southern Sorghum Beautifying Body Wrap (60mins, $185), a farm-to-treatment-table body wrap showcasing sorghum, a gluten-free grain rich in vitamins and minerals that Southern farmers have been harvesting for centuries.
Even in wine country, where a stunning resort and spa lurks behind every twist in the road, Spa Solage is a standout for many reasons. Chief among them are the seductive deluxe farmhouse-style buildings and the geothermal pools, a nod to the local hot springs. A recent overhaul has resulted in additions such as a new indoor-outdoor relaxation lounge and an herb garden, whose crops will be incorporated into treatments. All this luxury doesn’t come cheap, however, so if your budget’s more Two Buck Chuck than champagne, try the three-step Mudslide experience, where you get to sidle up to the mud bar to select your own dirt.
Signature service: Solage Signature Mudslide, billed as “a modern twist on the traditional Calistoga mud bath” that can be enjoyed solo or as part of a couple or group (from 60mins, $110 per person).
It’s hard to narrow down what we love about this mini chain, which currently operates four outposts in Portland and Boulder. From its recycling policies to its own range of (gorgeous!) handmade lotions and potions, Dragontree checks all the eco-friendly boxes. As for the menu, it’s an appealing array of facials, massages and ayurvedic therapies, plus acupuncture, nutritional consultations and the like. Those on a tight budget should book a foot, hand or head treatment in the communal-but-comfy Sangha Room (time it right and you may even get it to yourself).
Signature service: The holistic Shakti package (165mins, $225), which includes a milk foot bath, aromatherapy facial steam immersion, full body massage and custom facial.
A World War I barracks might seem an unlikely venue for an Asian-inspired holistic retreat, but somehow it works. Nestled in the Presidio national park, near the Golden Gate Bridge, SenSpa was founded in 2006 by Dave Spencer following a life-altering car crash that launched him on the path to wellness. The voluminous treatment menu encompasses everything from standard spa fare to Rolfing, oncology massage and “rhythm entrainment” designed to stimulate creativity (well, it is San Francisco). Other draws: a new infrared sauna; SenCafe, which serves organic grub from Bay Area chain The Plant; and a large Senboutique retail area.
Signature service: SenZen Body Ritual (60mins, $150), which begins with a bamboo and Thai citrus body scrub and concludes with an application of the spa’s tea-based SenZen body moisturizer.
Just 20 minutes from LAX, the sprawling 50,000-square-foot Spa at Terranea is a destination in itself with its own boutique, pool, gym and café—not to mention facilities such as steam rooms, outdoor cold plunge pools and Jacuzzis. Sign up for a complimentary workout class in the fitness studio—offerings include open-air cycling with vast ocean views—or catch some rays by the private spa pool before your service. Some of the spa’s 25 treatment rooms and three suites come with copper bathtubs and balconies overlooking the water, adding the soothing sound of crashing waves to the experience. The entire menu is a cut above, but splurge on a signature ritual and you’ll be walking on air for days to come.
Signature service: El Segundo Blue (90mins, $285), which includes a mineral sea-clay wrap and body, head and scalp massages.
Yes, it’s within a hotel (and a chain at that), but Spa Montage sneaked onto our list for several reasons. The 35,000-square-foot wellness wonderland is billed as an “alpine oasis”—and we’re not arguing. Highlights include the indoor mosaic lap pool with mountain views, fireside his ’n’ hers copper soaking tubs for couples’ services, and even a dedicated spa menu for junior guests. Meanwhile, treatments like the Mountain Body Therapy and Kur Wrap are targeted toward skiers who’ve overdone it on the nearby slopes.
Signature service: The Elements of Wellness Signature Experience, a customized body-balancing treatment designed to “set you on a path of ultimate well-being and renewed vitality” (120mins, $410).
A good spa is all about relaxation, and Allyu sets the tone from the moment you walk in the door for your appointment. Instead of sitting in a boring, run-of-the-mill waiting area, you can kick your feet up in a serene, dimly lit, semi-private tented chamber. The treatments take things to the next level too—think facials featuring botanical and vitamin-rich ingredients, hot stone massages, chakra balancing and more. On a budget but still need to relax? Allyu offers a free lunchtime meditation session the second Wednesday of each month.
Signature service: Infrared Detox Body Wrap (from 100mins, $190), which harnesses infrared heat to enhance relaxation, followed by a 40- or 60-minute massage.
In the unlikely event Mii amo’s breathtaking setting—the ruddy buttes of Boynton Canyon, within Sedona’s Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness—doesn’t immediately captivate you, its exhaustive treatment menu should. Part of the Enchantment resort, the 24,000-square-foot spa draws extensively on its surroundings, from its name (which means “one’s path or journey” in the Native American Yuman language) to its services, many of which feature local, indigenous plants and flowers. Also on offer: wellness-oriented experiences and activities, including Past Life Regression. (Too “woo-woo” for you? Try a Sedona Clay Wrap instead.) If you’re searching for inner peace, this may just be your place.
Signature service: Prickly Pear Butter Wrap (from 60mins, $160), including a sea-salt-and-jojoba body polish, prickly pear butter massage, and neck and head massage.
The Hotel Bel-Air Spa by La Prairie proves nature and nurture can coexist in equal measure. Set deep within the iconic hotel’s woodsy Bel-Air canyon, the spa evokes a tranquil indoor-outdoor vibe with lily-pad-like sculptures, warm woodwork and dappled light in the relaxation lounge. The couple-friendly Enclave, a ginormous private treatment suite, has its own plumeria-studded outdoor patio. The nurture quotient here is evident in the spa’s chic nail salon (with individual mani-pedi pods) and the seven treatment rooms kitted out with waterbed-style tables. But let’s face it: You go to La Prairie spa for its coveted—and, yes, they’re really that good—facials and skincare treatments.
Signature service: Caviar Firming Facial (90mins, $310), which includes an eye lift, and hand and feet treatments.
After nearly a decade in business, the Lime (895 S Center St, 775-825-5463) has proved it’s no lemon. Owner Emily Sindlinger has built up a loyal following at her downtown Reno day spa, and it’s easy to see why. If the fun, quirky decor—green, with chandeliers and cloudlike fabric embellishments—doesn’t grab you, the menu will: Mainstays such as facials, massages, manicures and pedicures mix with a slew of wallet-friendly packages. And that’s before you get to the separate cocktail list! Fans, take note: The spa is launching an all-natural product line in January, and moving to new, larger premises next summer.
Signature service: Brighten Facial, which includes a specialty mask and scalp massage—plus a contrasting combo of cold stones and warm LED light (90mins, $140).
A Japanese-style hot springs resort outside Santa Fe might sound a little unlikely, but Ten Thousand Waves’ legions of fans can’t all be wrong. Stay overnight in a hillside cottage or drop by for a day-spa service (facials, massages, wraps and more are all up for grabs). Or simply soak up the fresh forest air from the comfort of a communal hot tub (note: some are clothing-optional). If that sounds a little too social for you, prebook a private tub or spa suite. Don’t miss the nibbles and artisan sakes served in the izakaya-style restaurant, izanami.
Signature service: Shiatsu Deep Tissue Massage, performed fully clothed and designed to open major muscle-energy systems and address pain-related blockages (from 50mins, $129).Photograph: Courtesy Ten Thousand Waves
This “experiental spa resort”—which has a Maui sibling—boasts a glorious setting in the rolling hills of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve. Following a total overhaul last September, its wellness-focused spa has a ton of recently added and upgraded facilities, from new relaxation rooms to private men’s and women’s steam rooms and vitality pools. Male guests aren’t overlooked: In fact, they get their own menu and their own wood-paneled treatment space, the Western Sky Room, complete with a fiber-optic, star-studded ceiling and bar. Some offerings play up local musical heroes (if you’ve ever fancied being massaged to the strains of Willie Nelson, now’s your chance!)
Signature service: Hill Country Honeybee Massage and Body Treatment (80mins, $195), featuring a soothing bee-propolis compress, myofascial massage and nourishing facial mask. A portion of proceeds goes to the Texas Beekeepers Association.Photograph: Courtesy The Spa at Travaasa Austin/Merrick Ales
Think “destination spa” and Pennsylvania might not immediately spring to mind, but The Lodge at Woodloch has rightly earned its numerous accolades. Frazzled urbanites flock to this Poconos hideaway to soak away their stress under the Aqua Garden’s HydroMassage waterwalls, nap by the fireplace or veg in the aptly named Whisper Lounge. Treatments are top-notch, ranging from massages and wraps to facials; some take their inspiration from the resort’s prime woodland location. And if choosing among them fills you with angst, simply call upon the customization skills of the spa concierge. Note: The Lodge is all-inclusive but the spa’s packages for nonguests are surprisingly economical.
Signature service: Rosemary Awakening (100mins, $250–$260), including a rosemary and citrus body polish, full body massage, seaweed wrap and scalp massage.
Based on the theory that water brings health, Great Jones is outfitted with a popular water lounge complete with subterranean pools, saunas, steam rooms and a three-story waterfall. Access to the 15,000-square-foot paradise is complimentary with services over $100—treat yourself to a divinely scented body scrub, a massage or one of the many indulgent packages. Alternatively, a three-hour pass costs $55.
Signature service: The Deluxe Facial (90mins, $300) uses natural antioxidant-rich ingredients to hydrate stressed skin and includes a fruit enzyme peel and an eye “rescue” treatment.
While terms such as “lifestyle retreat” and “wellness institution” are bandied about left and right these days, the all-inclusive Canyon Ranch enterprise was a pioneer in the field when it opened in Tucson in 1979. It now boasts offshoots in Las Vegas and even on cruise ships, but the Lenox location is the best—hence its heavy quota of repeat visitors. Pampering spa services are a major draw, but what really lures guests is the opportunity to reboot their lives—whether it’s via better nutrition, stress management or spiritual reawakening—all amid the backdrop of a glorious 1897 Berkshires mansion.
Signature service: Euphoria Ritual (100mins, $320), designed to calm the nervous system and relax the mind, featuring a sage compress, aromatherapy scalp massage, warm botanical body masque, and aromatherapy soak and massage.
It’s nigh impossible to pick just one spa from all the striking spaces in Miami, but the Spa at Eden Roc gets our vote for its serene, Zen-like interior—a respite from the frenetic playground outside. Face and body treatments mingle with nail and waxing services on the menu, and in the unlikely event you’d rather work out than chill out, there’s a 24-hour fitness center (with ocean views, of course). The staff here goes above and beyond to deliver stellar customer service. Note: Full use of the amenities is included if you book a treatment priced at $50 or more.
Signature service: Eden Roc is currently the only South Beach resort to offer the much-ballyhooed HydraFacial MD (from 25mins, $150), which promises to “mitigate environmental damage, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and firm and plump the skin.”
Husband and wife Rick Aidekman and Ellen Sackoff reopened their popular boutique spa, which closed in 2009, in a smaller space in upscale hotel The Surrey. The intimate yet luxurious lounge, furnished with plush armchairs and curtained-off spaces, is designed to make you feel like you’re chilling in your own living space. Savory and sweet treats, such as sorbet and champagne by the glass, are served to complement your treatment. Cornelia Spa is one of only two spas in the world to offer Somadome, a plush pod that eases stress and purportedly unblocks energy though the use of varying beats and color therapy.
Signature service: The Reparative Caviar & Oxygen Quench facial (90mins, $325) drenches skin with a caviar mask and patented Liquid Oxygen followed by the ultimate youth elixir—a stem cell serum.