It's hard enough to pay rent here without having to shell out $150 for a massage, but sometimes you need someone to beat the hell out of your shoulder blades, lest you crumple over your computer and die before you finish your Best Spa guide. These are our favorite spas in the city, may they be fancy, shvitzy, or downright clinical—leave yours in the comments.
MERMAID SPA: Newly-renovated Mermaid Spa is the perfect mash-up of Old World/New World Russian banya, or bathhouse, scene. Men and women, both the elderly and the impeccably young and fit, lounge around in tiny bathing suits, sweating out toxins in steaming hot saunas or cooling off in icy pools. And if you have no qualms about forms of interrogation torture, spring for a platza treatment, in which you are lightly beaten with an olive branch in a piping hot steam room (but seriously, it's really fun). A day pass runs $45; massages and specialty treatments are priced a la carte.
Mermaid Spa is located at 3703 Mermaid Ave in Sea Gate, Brooklyn (347-462-2166, seagatebaths.com).
SHIBUI SPA: The Greenwich Hotel's guest spa opened to the one percent a few years ago, and since then it's been offering up high-end massages, body scrubs and facials in its Japanese-themed space. Specialties include the Oxygen Awakening facial ($225/hour, $300/90 minutes), which features a glycolic peel and facial and finishing masks; the Bamboo Glow body treatment ($425/120 minutes) includes a mint mineral bath and a sea algae wash; and the Elemental Well-Being massage ($235 hour/$315 90 minutes, or $280/ $360 with an added bath soak) involves a dry body brushing, massage with your choice of oils and an optional bath add-on.
You can also opt for a $95 sake soak, which, according to Japanese lore, will clear evil spirits and give way to new beginnings, or get a seasonal soak that'll get you ready for changing weather. Do note that while you no longer have to be a guest to use Shibui's spa services, you should call well in advance to book your spot, and they do not allow non-guest groups.
Shibui Spa is located in the Greenwich Hotel, 377 Greenwich Street between Franklin and Moore Streets in Tribeca (212-941-8900, thegreenwichhotel.com/spa).
THE SPA AT MANDARIN ORIENTAL: This Upper West Side hotel spa is considered one of the premiere day spas in the city, and with treatments starting at around $300, the price tag lives up to its reputation. But if your Great Aunt Birgit magically leaves you a few thousand bucks, spend them here: elegant facilities, above-and-beyond service and top-of-the-line treatments make this the most luxurious relaxation space in town.
You can book specific services like body treatments (personalized algae or marine mud wraps, ginger, mandarin and frankincense scrubs), facials and massages (Calm Mind Retreat, Oriental Essence, Thai Yoga Massage, and therapeutic massage); if you've got time and cash to burn, they suggest you book one of their "journey" or "suite experience" packages, three hours plus of themed (Thai, Ayurveda, Oriental Harmony, etc.) treatments that include scrubs, massages and tub soaks.
The spa boasts fancy private suites, a JEWELED SAUNA, a vitality pool and tasty snacks post-treatment; plus, it's on the 35th floor of the Time Warner Center, with stellar views of Central Park.
The Spa at Mandarin Oriental is located at 80 Columbus Circle between 62nd and 63rd Streets on the Upper West Side (212-805-8880, madarinoriental.com).
ASIA TUI-NA WHOLENESS: Aesthetically, this Flatiron joint has more in common with a medical facility than a luxury spa. And the deep-tissue massages here are not for bodies that bruise easily; the technicians here will beat the crap out of you, crawling on top of you and digging their knees into your spine as they claw out those muscle knots you've earned through hours spent bent in front of a computer. You will grip the table as spikes shaped like human hands tear into your shoulders, back and legs, and you will cry out for more, more, MORE when your $60 hour is up ($90 for 90 minutes). If the glorious pain doesn't do the trick, they also offer cupping therapy—an acupuncture-type situation in which hot round cups are suctioned onto your back—for an extra $10.
Asia Tui-Na Wholeness is located at 37 East 28th Street between Madison Ave and Park Ave South in Flatiron (212-686-8082, asiatuinawholeness.com).
RUSSIAN AND TURKISH BATHS: This East Village institution isn't exactly luxurious, but if you're looking for a schvitz and a dip in a cold pool, this is the place to do it. Pop into a piping hot sauna (the Russian room is particularly intense) and sweat out all the beer you drank last night, then jump into the ice pool to cool off at the end. You can also score an invigorating (if slightly terrifying) platza treatment, or opt for a salt scrub or other massage if you find the idea of getting beating by an oak branch terrifying. A day pass runs $40—treatments are extra.
The Russian and Turkish Baths are located at 286 East 10th Street between 1st Avenue and Avenue A in the East Village (212-674-9250, russianturkishbaths.com).
GREAT JONES SPA: Great Jones Spa is one of the loveliest spots in the city, offering luxurious massages, manicures and facials complete with the added bonus of access to their famed water lounge. The treatments themselves are standout, if pricy. A rock river facial ($155 for 60 minutes) comes complete with a cold and heated stone wash followed by a repairing mask; the aromatherapy massage ($145 for 60 minutes) uses hot scented oils to promote relaxation and the Rosemary Citron Sea Salt Scrub ($150) involves a vigorous all-over scrub using Rosemary, Lemon Peel and Safflower Seed oil. Post-treatment, hang out in the spa's wet lounge, complete with a massive indoor waterfall, hot tub, plunge pool and neighboring saunas to let out a little extra steam.
Great Jones Spa is located at 29 Great Jones Street between Bowery and Lafayette Street in NoHo (212-505-3185, gjspa.com).
AIRE ANCIENT BATHS: While the average New Yorker is grateful just to have hot water, Aire Ancient Baths offers an immersive thermal bathing experience for those who find their hygiene to be lacking in intrigue. Conceived in Seville, the AIRE company's spas are of the ancient Roman variety specializing in "thermally variant bathing," a process of dunking oneself into water of various temperatures that is definitely not as unpleasant as it sounds.
Aire’s TriBeCa branch is appropriately temple-esque and only slightly resembles that hall with all the skinned faces from Game of Thrones. Just relax. You'll barely notice their eyes watching you. With words like "flotarium" used to describe its treatments, the Aire spa maintains that perfect balance of soothing and terrifying we’re all looking for after a long day. (Roxie Pell)
Aire Ancient Baths are located at 88 Franklin Street between 6th Avenue and Church Street in Tribeca ( 646-878-6174, ancientbathsny.com).
METAMORPHOSIS DAY SPA: Metamorphosis Spa is located right in the heart of Midtown, providing a quiet oasis within the nexus of noise and crowding. The spa is known for its attentive and unpretentious service, according to its website, because no one wants to be judged for cramped shoulder muscles. Metamorphosis also provides an extensive breadth of spa options, so no matter what pain you've been sitting with, technicians will be able to knead it out of you. While the hour long massages reach above $100, they offer 25 minute options for much less: $70 for deep tissue, $60 for Swedish, and $75 for aroma therapy.
Don't skip out on the signature Metamorphosis massage, which combines hot stones, aromatherapy and Swedish massage. You might go in a knotted-up caterpillar, but you leave a beautiful, unbreakable butterfly. (Eric Silver)
Metamorphosis Day Spa is located at 127 East 56th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues in Midtown East (212-751-6051, metspa.com).
OHM SPA: The friendly technicians at the zen spot perform the full gamut of services to perfection, from paraffin wax nail care to exfoliating facials to glorious custom massages. Recently, they moved to bigger digs on the 5th floor of their old building, offering more space for ultimate relaxation, though they've managed to preserve the old spa's intimate feel. Prime treatments include the hot stone massage ($175/hour), the deep Swedish massage ($155) and their specialty Manuka honey facial ($175); just be sure to book well in advance, as spots can fill up.
Ohm Spa is located at 260 Fifth Ave between 28th and 29th Street in Flatiron (212-845-9812, ohmspa.com).
OASIS DAY SPA: If the idea of choosing just one spa treatment instills within you a deep existential angst, fear not: Park Avenue’s Oasis Day Spa lets you mix and match your services so as to best maximize how you erode your life savings. “Adding on” costs only $10 for a 60-minute session and could save you a lifetime of regret. For the self-assured spa-goer, a basic 60-minute Swedish massage will set you back $125, while exhaustive specials like the “Autumn Sports Trio” and the “Bodylicious Slimming Escape” are pricier. (Roxie Pell)
Oasis Day Spa is located at 1 Park Avenue at 33rd Street in Midtown East (212-254-7722, oasisdayspanyc.com).
MOONFLOWER SPA : For facial enthusiasts, this lovely little Japanese day spa offers stellar skincare services, with packages including deep pore cleansing facials ($105), teen facials for the acne-prone youth ($90) and full-throttle microdermabrasion ($130) to rid your face of dead skin particles and things that make you look old. Their signature facial ($85) is a gentle cleansing and moisturizing effort that includes exfoliation and a brief massage, and you can also opt for add-ons like a chemical peel ($40), collagen mask ($50) and neck and décolleté care ($50).
If a massage is what you seek, Moonflower also offers a full range of rubdowns, along with full body treatments like a $105 rose body wash.
Moonflower Spa is located at 8 East 41st Street between 5th and Madison Aves in Midtown (212-683-8729, moonflowerspa.com).