The World’s Most Sensational Spas – 2018!

by Our Editors



One of the most wonderful things about New York is its perpetual capacity for surprise. Walk past the restored 19th-century textile factory in TriBeCa that currently houses the New York outpost of AIRE Ancient Baths, and you might never guess the magical and transcendent experience that lies beyond the inviting, candlelit reception area. In a dramatic space that recalls the baths traditional during the ancient Roman, Greece, and Ottoman empires, AIRE offers six thermal baths of varying temperatures.

Aire Warm Pool

Aire Warm Pool

Included among the baths is a flotarium (saltwater pool), a hot bath, ice and cold dives, and a swimming pool with relaxing jets. The standard experience (90 min/$96-$106), includes access to all six of the pools as well as the relaxation area where guests can sip tea while lounging on hot marble stones and an exhilarating saline exfoliation area that does wonders for the skin. Spending an hour and a half dipping in and out of the various pools in this spectacular, yet surprisingly accessible setting in the heart of downtown Manhattan, would alone be relaxing and indulgent enough.

However, adding a relaxing massage in this columned tranquil space is next level. I opted to complement my visit with a massage (120 min, including baths, $155-$167), but there are also 45-minute and 60-minute massages on offer in addition to a range of signature treatments, notable among which is an Olive Essence Ritual (180 min, including baths/$294-$311), wherein a full-body exfoliation with grounded olive pits scrub is combined with a relaxing 60-minute massage with Olive Essence massage oil, and a Wine Bath (180 min, including baths/$450-$550), which includes access to the private Wine Bath for a 30-minute soak in an antique 17th-century Venetian well, a 15-minute cranio-facial massage, and an hour-long massage with grapeseed oil. Bottom line: for a trip from Downtown NYC to ancient Greece, there’s no faster transport.

—Duane Wells



Unwind’s glittering chandeliers and gold mirrors set a new bar for baroque extravagance in Washington, D.C. Opened in 2017, Unwind stands out for its uncanny capacity to recruit tall, handsome Eastern European men with big hands. Georgi and Sladjan will dominate your muscles into relaxation, molding and melting your body with technical precision. Book a deep-tissue massage (60 min/$100) or a couples massage (60 min/$190). Add on a 30-minute hydrating body wrap or sea salt body scrub for $80.

Unwind is a locally owned boutique spa certified to perform treatments from Eastern Medicine, including cupping, guasha, acupuncture, and reiki. Their focus on staff training and technical expertise is immediately evident. Every stroke is practiced, and every pressure point is explored. Located along the C&O Canal in D.C.’s oldest neighborhood, Unwind is only a couple blocks from Georgetown’s Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons. Nearby, you’ll also find all your essential ampersand menswear: Frank & Oak, Rag & Bone, and Hugh & Crye.

The capital of the US hasn’t been known for its luxury spas or hotels. Unwind moves D.C. to a new era by offering bespoke and unique experiences. It’s appropriate that here, nestled between the world’s embassies, you can now be led by a Brazilian management team to Versaillesinspired treatment rooms with Bulgarian therapists performing ancient Chinese acupressure techniques. Though Unwind is still reserved for in-the-know social circles in D.C., it is well worth a detour.

—Allister Chang



The Belmond Andean Explorer is a luxury train that meanders and climbs its way through the Andes in Peru on the way to Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire. Peaking at over 11,000 feet, the trip can be dizzying and aweinspiring. With ten different train cars, the Andean Explorer has it all including two dining cars, a bar car, an observation lounge, sleeper cars in varying configurations, and a fully equipped spa car.

The space may be slightly more claustrophobic than you’re used to at your typical luxury spa, but that doesn’t mean the treatments are any less relaxing and invigorating. The Picaflor Spa Car (which means Hummingbird) is equipped to provide a variety of treatments with expert therapists that will keep you relaxed even as the train warbles from side to side. The signature experience is the Andean Ritual (80 min/$160). First up, local coca leaves are placed all over key points on the body followed by a clay wrap. This is said to harmonize body and mind before moving on to a deep-tissue oil massage.

After a day of exploring Lake Titicaca, the assisted relaxation will have your aching muscles thanking Pachamama (a goddess revered by the indigenous people of the Andes). Forget to bring a cure for altitude sickness? Try the Precious Stones Ritual (80 mins/$160). The treatment is ideal for high-altitude areas by helping to align your energy channels with a variety of stones placed on strategic pressure points.

Another practical treatment you’ll want to consider is the Power of the Sun Ritual (80 min/$160). Cusco was found in 2006 to be the spot on Earth with the highest average ultraviolet light level. This ritual uses a sparkling gold exfoliation and body wrap to leave your skin luminous, moisturized and rejuvenated. The precious metal also helps stimulate metabolism and protect cells from solar radiation.

—Jason Gomer

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