Serenity in the city is the specialty of numerous day spas in Midtown East, Kips Bay, and Murray Hill. Experts at these therapeutic havens use time-honored Eastern therapies, innovative Western techniques, or a combination of both to restore a beatific balance to body and soul.
122 East 25th Street (between Lexington and Park Avenues)
The Eastern influences are apparent as soon as you step inside Essential Therapy: bamboo rods cover the waiting area’s ceiling, plush red carpet blankets the floor, candles add a warm, golden glow. As its name indicates, this day spa considers massages and facials essential to healthy living. After experiencing its Revitalizing Spa Package—a 60-minute deep-tissue/Swedish massage and an hour-long facial using herbs and fresh fruit pulp, followed by a sauna or a steam shower—you might too. Massages, body scrubs, and facials can be purchased à la carte as well, and the spa also offers guided private meditation sessions.
A massage is considered not a luxury but a necessity at spas such as Essential Therapy. [Image: Nick Webb/Flickr]
22 East 49th Street (between Madison and Fifth Avenues, Third Floor
Focusing on Japanese therapies, iDo is perhaps best known for its shiatsu massages; in these, the therapist presses his or her fingertips along meridians, or pressure points, throughout the body in addition to stretching the client’s muscles. As well as total-body massages, the spa offers foot massages that aim not only to rejuvenate your tired tootsies but also to revitalize your inner organs. Japanese acupuncture is another of iDo’s specialties; different treatments promise to reduce muscle and joint pain, aid digestion, and help with smoking cessation. Arguably the most relaxing service is the Hinoki Aroma Massage, in which the lightly citrus scent of oil from the hinoki cypress complements a treatment that integrates Swedish and Japanese massage methods.
16 East 48th Street (between Madison and Fifth Avenues), Third Floor
At Joy Spa you can choose from a panoply of massage options: shiatsu; Swedish, in which the therapist uses a variety of movements, from long strokes to vigorous kneading to rhythmic tapping; hot stone, an especially relaxing way to relieve muscle tension; deep tissue, which as its name implies treats the deepest layers of muscles and tendons. Couples and four-hand massages are available as well. Tibetan steam therapies and Vichy showers can be added to the massages or enjoyed on their own.
A number of area spas, including Joy Spa, offer relaxing hot stone massages. [Image: Zenspa1/Flickr]
875 Third Avenue (between 52nd and 53rd Streets)
KUR does indeed offer skincare treatments, and plenty of them, but it provides numerous other wellness services too. When treating yourself to a 60-minute aromatherapy massage you can choose from more than 60 plant-based scented oils, depending on the effect you’re seeking: Lavender, for instance, encourages relaxation, while KUR’s popular Energy Boost, which adds bergamot, eucalyptus, and thyme to lavender, will have you bounding off the massage table and rarin’ to go. Numerous other massages, including reflexology and lymphatic drainage, are also offered, as are waxing and laser hair removal. As for skincare, services run the gamut from facials and peels to microdermabrasion and microneedling, which is designed to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin to improve skin’s tone and texture.
422 Madison Avenue (at 48th Street), Fourth Floor
The only slightly stressful aspect of a visit to Madison Spa is deciding on which spa packages to choose: Half Day in Paradise, which includes the delicious-sounding Chocolate Caramel Delight Wrap? The Ultimate Relaxation, consisting of a body scrub with Dead Sea salt, a massage, foot reflexology, and an oxygen facial? The Stress Reduction Package, which pampers you with a facial, a dermabrasion-and-paraffin hand treatment, a hot-stone massage, reflexology, and a sauna, along with wine and chocolate? Because sharing is caring, the spa also offers several couples packages and lessons for couples with a licensed massage therapist so that you can treat each other to the pleasures of massage at home. Of course, Madison Spa offers single services including a variety of facials and peels.
So many facials to choose from. [Image: Zenspa1/Flickr]
39 East 28th Street (between Park and Madison Avenues)
115 East 57th Street (between Lexington and Park Avenues)
You could pop into either location of Queen Jane for a simple mani/pedi, but then you would be missing out on delights such as the ashiatsu massage, in which the therapist (while holding onto a bar suspended from the ceiling) gently walks along the acupressure points on your back; the seaweed and mud wraps; and specialty facials for the back, the bikini area, and the breasts. For the face itself, Queen Jane offers facials tailored to those with rosacea or acne-prone skin. And if a manicure or a pedicure really is all you want, opt for the “spa” versions, which begin with therapeutic soaks in the likes of milk and honey or Chinese herbal jelly and include exfoliation and massage.
115 East 44th Street (between Third and Lexington Avenues)
While this full-service day spa offers plenty of standard services—a variety of massages, wraps, manicures, pedicures, even eyebrow tints and eyelash extensions—it also provides mini treatments for those who can slot only a half-hour or so of pampering into their day. Its 30-minute treatments include a mini facial, reflexology, and the Kai Glow, which involves exfoliating rubs, moisturizing lotions, and a Vichy shower. Among its more unusual—at least to modern-day Western clients—services is ear candling, which uses the heat of cone-shape candles to remove wax from the ear canal and, it is claimed, toxins from the entire body.