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Top 15 San Francisco Spas
by Nirmala Nataraj on Mar 14, 2006
Skincare studios, massage therapists, and day spas that range from cozy to corporate can be found on practically every street block in San Francisco. But a true oasis of pampering doesn't always advertise its wares -- it takes some time to sniff out the places that actually deliver on their promises of relaxation and indulgence, despite a bunch of ostentatious claims. Every spa aficionado has her favorites, and here's my top 15 list of hidden jewels and obvious winners that'll have you feeling like a million dollars.
15) Relax Now: This bubbly Pacific Heights mainstay is bursting with happy décor, scrumptious girlie colors, and an atmosphere that's as optimistic and organic as its treatments. The spa's body wraps are second to none -- try the Chocolate Bliss or the Lavender Mudpie, which will both leave you hankering for some dessert by the time you're through.
14) Spa Radiance: A modest yet classy Marina hollow run by a mother and daughter team who combine gentle Old World herb treatments with modern indulgences like decadent caviar wraps and LED light therapy, Spa Radiance is pure indulgence for your pores.
13) Tru Spa: A cool minimalist décor, a room fashioned to look and feel like a tropical rainforest, deep-cleansing crystal and oxygen facials administered by adept hands, and rooms that utilize color therapy are just some of the reasons this Chinatown pampering haven has a slew of repeat customers.
12) International Orange: A serene outpost full of neutral tones and blissed-out aestheticians, IO offers delectable specialties like scrubs with a ginger, lemongrass, and tangerine blend; nurturing pre-natal massage; and the yummiest two-hour botanical facial around.
11) Novella Spa and Imports: Take a detour into a Southeast Asian-inspired bevy of exotic treatments in this gorgeous nook, which is filled to the brim with exotic housewares and eastern décor. The Ayurvedic Chakra Balancing facial and the Moroccan leg and foot indulgence are great ways for beginners to get acquainted with Novella.
10) re:fresh: Warm, welcoming, and unpretentious are just some of the words to describe this roomy Post Street spa. Re:fresh's host of unique treatments includes the South Pacific Pohaku Massage, which combines deep tissue and hot stone massage; and the Hawaiian Salt Glow with Kukui Nut Oil, an exfoliating body scrub that'll make you dream of warmer climes.
9) ZensAsian: ZensAsian is a cozy bamboo and silk-swathed den of pure languor. An intimate establishment where the prices are always right, its signature delicacies include the Hot Stone Massage, organic Japanese facials, and body wraps made from sea mud and water from the city of Spa, Belgium.
8) Therapeia: This obscure lower Pac Heights mecca is an airy, friendly place that offers some of the best massage you're apt to find. Meditative but simple, Therapeia's blend of yoga, acupuncture, organic products, and melt-worthy body treatments like the Hot Stone Nirvana or cellulite-busting Endermologie all work toward the spa's mission to "help you enjoy life more".
7) Kamalaspa: With a decorating scheme fit for a maharani and unique treatments inspired by the Hindu wellness practice known as Ayurveda, this spa is like a palace for the senses. All the offerings are indulgence at its finest, but the four-handed Abhyanga massage will make you never want to go back to Shiatsu again.
6) Spa Fusion at the Hilton: Hotel spas are usually too filled with harried businesspeople to be relaxing, but this modest, tranquil urban retreat is packed with innovative treatments -- like a cold stone and cucumber facial, or acupressure cupping massage -- and attentive, talented therapists who know how to make anyone relax.
5) Marilyn Jaeger Skincare: Located on the top floor of a stately Victorian, this sophisticated day spa attracts the city's blue bloods and ordinary folk in equal amounts. Jaeger's known as the queen of eyebrow shaping and Brazilian waxing, but her talented team does glycolic peels, delicious Body Coffee pedicures, and craniosacral massage with comparable flair.
4) Tea Garden Springs: This beautiful Mill Valley outpost has serenity written all over it -- from the airy waiting room to a walkway of rocks and water to the luscious tea garden in which you can bask before and after each treatment. Offerings from guided meditation to champagne body scrubs to eastern massage make this Zen retreat one of the poshest spas on the scene.
3) Safronya Retreat: A wellness center more than a spa, this elegant San Rafael vestibule will make you want to walk inside and never leave. Safronya is based on the wellness principles of Ayurveda, a 5000- year old practice that infuses the center's seasonal cooking classes, detox programs, health consultations, and luscious treatments -- from four-handed Abhyanga massage to facials made from yummy ingredients like apple and neem.
2) Kabuki Springs and Massage: Kabuki's charm lies not only in its bona fide Japanese bathhouse (which has alternating days for men and women) and the way its Zen ambience covers up the fact that it's indubitably bustling with clientele -- it also has dozens of unbeatable treatments, like the Javanese Lulur, a queenly ritual that involves massage with jasmine oil, tumeric, and yogurt, all before a solo dip in a romantic flower-strewn bath.
1) Fruition Day Spa: A tiny and unassuming nook tucked away in a quiet corner of West Portal, Fruition boasts a bevy of gifted aestheticians and massage therapists, and a slew of organic treatments: practically painless waxing, chocolate rose facials, and rose mud body wraps that'll have you feeling at one with nature. The cozy ambience and hospitality combined with the overall excellence of the treatments make Fruition the best-kept day spa secret in San Francisco.
by Nirmala Nataraj on Mar 14, 2006