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The Full Treatment: The Best Spas In New York

After hours of painstaking research -- an arduous regimen of deep-tissue massages, banana-leaf body wraps, caviar facials, and olive-oil pedicures -- the results are in: the best spas in the city, all 23 of them.


East meets West: Acqua Beauty Bar's Indonesian Beauty Ritual.  

1294 Third Avenue (212-628-0044)
Best Fresh-Fruit Facial
Best Shea-Butter Treatment
Upper East Side locals, chic young mothers, and up-and-coming actresses swear by this spacious, soothing full-service spa, with its slate floors and warm wooden accents. The focus here is on delicious skin, and it's all you can do not to eat the Facial du Jour ($175), which employs strawberry cleanser, grape-infused massage cream, kiwi-pineapple exfoliating mask, and banana-soy hydrating mask, each made fresh. A shea-butter emulsion following an oatmeal exfoliation of the body ($150 total) combats winter parching. For hard-core seekers of flawless skin, Ajune offers beta peels ($130), dermabrasion with salt ($200), laser wrinkle-reduction ($500 per area), and collagen ($550-$700) and Botox shots ($400 for initial area, $200 for each additional treatment).

Acqua Beauty Bar
7 East 14th Street (212-620-4329)
Best Indonesian Beauty Ritual
Best Orchid Pedicure
Korean calligraphy and backlit curtains decorate the massage rooms of this East Village spa, which opened last year and is already drawing legions of downtown beauty junkies in Anna Sui dresses and stiletto-heeled boots. The roomy leather manicure chairs feel like first-class airline seats. Even the bathroom is luxe, outfitted with an Italian stone floor and a glass sink embedded with flower fossils. The ethos is inspired by the healing properties of water, but the materials here get a lot more inventive than H2O. In the Winter Remedy Facial ($115), pores are opened and closed for cleansing not with steam and cold compresses but with glass wands filled with an antifreeze gel. The orchid pedicure ($45), an eight-step soak and sloughing, uses tropical extracts and a sugar scrub. If you can sit still for 100 minutes, get the Indonesian Beauty Ritual ($170), which brides-to-be traditionally receive for 40 days leading up to their weddings. Your skin is polished with ground rice, massaged with fragrant oils, pinched to bring blood to the surface, coated in a vitamin-and-turmeric mask, and covered in hot herbal compresses. It's enough to make you want to get married.

The Avon Salon & Spa
725 Fifth Avenue, floors 1, 2, and 6 (212-755-2866)
Best Eyebrow Sculpting
Best Prenatal Massage
Best Reflexology
The image of this spa and salon has metamorphosed remarkably, from middlebrow to posh. New York's most renowned eyebrow sculptress, Eliza Petrescu, has set up shop on the spa's second floor; her team has its own curtained rooms with cushy beds and special lighting where they pluck and wax perfect arches. (Cost is $100 for an initial visit with Petrescu, $78 for "maintenance" visits, and cheaper if you go with her associates.) Up on the sixth floor, a nineteenth-century-feeling parlor with mahogany furniture, high ceilings, wheat-colored wallpaper, and golden carpets welcomes clients, who are ushered into the inner sanctum for divine French pedicures ($60) or ultra-softening paraffin pedicures ($70). Avon also offers cellulite-battling endermologie ($150 per session), hot-stone massage ($130), pre- and postnatal massage ($98), and reflexology with simultaneous neck and shoulder rub ($130).

bliss 57
19 East 57th Street (212-219-8970)
Best Oxygen Facial
Best Rubber Neck Massage
The SoHo flagship is famously hip; the midtown sibling in the LVMH tower is equally sleek, and full of women and men fresh from shopping at Gucci, but the atmosphere is a tad warmer than at the downtown branch. The menu of facials is extensive and impressive; we especially like the Simultanebliss, the spa's trademark oxygen facial, in which they mist you with O2 while tending to the grooming of your hands and feet ($210). Among the massages are the Jet Out ($125), which reduces puffiness and revitalizes you with a blend of stimulating herbs, and the Rubber Neck, a kneading of the neck followed by a hot mix of paraffin and fango mud ($95). A warning: With a fresh supply of Bliss gift certificates having recently been handed out, getting an appointment can be an exercise in frustration.

Body Central
99 University Place (212-677-5633)
Best Sinus Treatment
Best Cranio-sacral Massage
Pragmatic treatments are the rule at this sparely decorated but wonderfully aromatic center, run by chiropractor JoAnn Weinrib. Personal training, nutrition counseling, and therapeutic ultrasound are on offer, as are reflexology and Swedish, Shiatsu, aromatherapy, and cranio-sacral massage ($80), in which your head is gently touched and rocked. The treatment not to be missed this time of year is the sinus drainage ($75), which takes place in a room suffused with eucalyptus. A natural anti-inflammatory is applied to your forehead and around your eyes, temples, and nose, while a vaporizer is positioned under your chin. Then your sinus drainage points are electrically stimulated, easing stuffiness. The treatment finishes with a scalp massage and cool compress. You'll get a remarkable feeling of clarity.

Brigitte Mansfield European Day Spa
37 Union Square West (212-366-0706)
Best Edible Body Treatments
Best Edible Facial
Best Couples Treatment
During the afternoon, this glamorous loft, with its zebra rugs and dramatic view of Union Square, is packed with businesspeople opting to bring clients here instead of taking them to lunch. You'll want to take them to lunch, anyway, after the Fresh Facial ($140), the most popular one at Brigitte Mansfield. It employs an appetite-stimulating vitamin- and mineral-packed truffle, cranberry, and almond mask. A similar mixture is used in the Truffle Luxuria body treatment ($160), but if you're not a tuber fan, there's always the crème fraîche wrap. The natural skin-smoother is combined with cocoa butter and spread on your body. You are then cocooned in a thermal blanket for twenty minutes, showered off, and given a light massage ($160). Treat your significant other (and yourself) to a couples massage, followed by a 30-minute reflexology or scalp massage for him and a manicure for her ($280). Oh, go ahead -- while you're at it, get a pedicure with the fragrant rose-petal scrub ($45-$60).

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