Social distancing may have dramatically altered our ability to indulge in facial and body therapies, but with growing numbers of vaccinated people in major cities around the world, it's no wonder that spas are re-emerging, and a visit is at the top of everyone’s list. From perennial favourites to new additions on the scene, here's an edit of blissful locations designed for a new era of beauty that are worth heading to now, or in the near future at least.
Surya Spa, Los Angeles
Los Angeles may be known as a wellness mecca, but even by its standards, the new outpost of the heralded Surya Spa, now open at the Hotel Proper Santa Monica, is charting new territory.
Spanning 3,000 sq ft and designed in collaboration with Kelly Wearstler, the Ayurvedic spa comes armed with six treatment rooms, a private meditation room, a custom oil-making station, and dreamy fountained patios – all the better to experience its menu of traditional therapies, such as its signature four-handed massage therapy that ends with oil infusions being streamed over the forehead to calm the nervous system and de-stress.
Each of the spa’s mood-boosting spaces is realised in a colour that ties back to the pillars of Ayurvedic doshas, while nods to Indian design and culture are present throughout. From the hand-blocked saris that line the meditation den, where guests relax after their treatments, to the kitchen at the heart of the spa, where nourishing meals are prepared to complement the physical experience, this wellness hub is truly an oasis.
Nestled in a converted soda factory, under a corner in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, Bathhouse combines functional, high-performing treatments with a disarmingly social setting. Professing to be an ‘anti-spa’, given its focus on rejuvenation rather than relaxation, the invigorating space boasts communal saunas (one dry and one tropical), a steam room, three thermal pools (one hot, one thermoneutral and one cold) and heated marble hammams, which inevitably foster a social bond with your fellow bathers.
Designed by Jennifer Carpenter of Verona Carpenter Architects, Bathhouse’s sensual interiors reflect how it draws from traditional bathing cultures, be it Turkish, Korean, Finnish or Roman. Whether it’s a stretch-focused body treatment, a detoxing black salt scrub or a 30-minute mineral and herb-infused soak to promote calm, Bathhouse’s comprehensive treatment offerings will have you leaving on a cloud.
Susanne Kaufmann, Bezau
The Susanne Kaufmann spa in Bezau, Austria, is a cult favourite for a reason. Continually one step ahead of the curve, Kaufmann, whose eponymous skincare and body range leans on traditional Alpine remedies and ingredients native to Austria’s Bregenzerwald region, is constantly refining her approach to beauty and wellness – which has kept her treatments sought after for two decades. Known for blending Eastern and Western practices, Kaufmann takes a holistic view on beauty and body treatments.
Whether it’s a traditional Chinese medicine detox therapy that aims to restore harmony and balance through tui na massage; a full-body soak; practising qi-gong; or signature natural anti-ageing skincare treatments to help to boost collagen production and stimulate tissue purification, the spa’s comprehensive menu values what lies both on and beneath the surface.
Soul Realm Spa House, Hangzhou
Discreetly located on the 13th floor of a commercial building in downtown Hangzhou is Soul Realm Spa House, a serene retreat that brings together massage, meditation and learning underneath its stylish roof. Designed by the local architecture practice Right Hub, the spa is made up of a series of circular spaces – a concept inspired by traditional singing bowl sets (used in meditation). Sensitive to the distancing requirements and expectations of these current times, Right Hub used curved ceilings and walls to bring a subtle rhythm to the uncluttered, mostly white space.
A clay-like texture on the floor provides a grounding tactility, while arc-shaped windows that make the most of river views and a sunken semi-circular lounge for drinking tea further enhance the introspective experience. In such surroundings, guests can enjoy a variety of treatments, ranging from aromatherapy and sound therapy to massages that incorporate heated bamboo and lava shells.
Bringing together everything one might need to optimise life under one eye-catching roof is Biân, a membership-based health and wellness club located in Chicago. Armed with an approach that integrates physical health and medicine with holistic wellness, Biân offers its members personalised wellness plans with a bevy of facilities at their disposal.
The 25,000 sq ft behemoth, stylishly designed by Karen Herold of Studio K Creative, provides everything from strength and fitness training facilities to cryotherapy, acupuncture, energy healing, reflexology, IV treatments, microneedling, as well as a Hästens-equipped nap room – all aiming to combat any ailments or inadequacies its clients would like to correct. Backed by an advisory panel of medical professionals, and specialists across the board, this super-targeted approach is body optimisation of the highest form.
Dior Prestige La Suite at Harrods, London
If you’re aching for a no-holds-barred luxury experience, then the Dior Prestige La Suite treatment rooms at Harrods should tick a few boxes. Champagne-coloured interiors, which include a Swarovski crystal-drenched ceiling, set the scene for a decadent, customised experience that makes the most of Dior Prestige’s full suite of high-tech, floral-backed products, which feature flowers that are grown in the Dior gardens and selected for their regenerative powers.
The signature Dior Prestige Grand Facial Treatment pairs products with a sculpting facial massage that promises to transform skin during its 90-minute duration. The spa also offers Dior Micro-Peeling, which uses a sapphire crystal microabrasion specially developed for the Dior Institute to exfoliate and rejuvenate the face in just half an hour.
Although it is the mission of each of Aman’s spas to help individuals achieve an integrated and holistic feeling of wellness, the dreamy backdrop of its Kyoto outpost feels particularly well-placed for the task. Due to its built-in access to natural hot springs, the spa’s ryokan concept houses both indoor and outdoor onsen baths that make the most of the mineral-rich waters. Aman Kyoto spa’s signature treatments also count on locally grown medicinal plants to soothe the mind as much as the body.
From body massages that utilise Kyoto Kitayama cedar, yuzu citrus and Hinoki cypress oils, to a gold-leaf facial, inspired by the local Kinkaku-ji Temple, each treatment opens with a sake and azuki rice bran foot bath ritual and closes with a taste of seasonal tea, masterfully blended by the renowned Koyama teahouse.
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Pei-Ru Keh is a former US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru held various titles at Wallpaper* between 2007 and 2023. She reports on design, tech, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru took a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars, actively seeking out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.
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