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Urban Oases

The most sybaritic sites in the city.

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Patent Lather: An old-fashioned barbershop shave at Paul Labreque East.  

Paul Labrecque East

171 East 65th Street
(212-595-0099)

A nurturing tone is set by Regina Viotto, who runs the spa and happens to be one of the best facialists in town. The array of treatments includes an aromatherapy facial, a “medical facial” with a dermatologist-strength peel, electronic muscle stimulation for sagging muscles, intense skin hydration, and a special relaxing facial for men. (An old-fashioned razor shave is also available.) The latest offering is accussage—which begins with an energy reading of the tongue (why not?) and ends with a deep massage.

Yasmine Djerradine

30 East 60th Street, Suite 101
(212-588-1771)

Jerry Seinfeld and Nina Griscom are among the notables who frequent this discreet Moroccan-inspired skin-care salon. Yasmine trawls Europe and Asia for techniques and tools, both ancient and modern, to regenerate troubled or weathered skin. The latest innovation is a Hannibal Lecter–style contraption that’s fitted to your head and massages the top of your spine, draining puffiness from your face. On the more traditional side, acupuncturist Ping Song uses needles tinged with incense to attack wrinkles in the face.

Oasis on Park

1 Park Avenue, near 32nd Street
(212-254-7722)

This spa is as busy as its clients—mostly professional women who line up for the new Power Rich Facial, which includes a deep cleansing, multivitamin peel, extractions, pressure-point massage, and a final mask with a simultaneous neck and hand massage. Also new is pranassage, during which you are twisted into pretzel-like yoga positions you didn’t know you were capable of, then kneaded with Ayurvedic oils. Mondays, the spa gives free “face mapping”—sophisticated skin analysis.

Juvenex

25 West 32nd Street, fifth floor
(646-733-1330)

Insomniacs, waiters, actors, and other night owls love this new 24-hour spot in Koreatown for steams and saunas in a jade igloo, followed by vigorous loofah scrubs by women who work in their bathing suits (it’s not what you think; they just don’t want to work in wet clothing). Once your skin is baby-smooth, you can pause for tea and fresh watermelon slices before padding over to the massage table. A deep-tissue rubdown is the perfect nightcap.

Completely Bare Downtown

103 Fifth Avenue, fourth floor
(212-366-6060)

The homey atmosphere of the flagship has been preserved in this aptly named new space. Liliya, Kristen, and the other therapists from uptown now spend part of their time here and are chatty as ever. (The conversation helps distract you from the indignity of having your legs contorted over your head while the signature wax is applied.) They also do facials, from micro-dermabrasion and electronic muscle stimulation to the paprika special, which imparts a healthy glow for days. Smile guru Dr. Larry Rosenthal has set up shop here, so teeth whitening has been added to the menu.

Just Calm Down

32 West 22nd Street
(212-337-0032)

Exposed brick walls are the backdrop for this spa located in a former print shop; facials are given on couches in a boudoir setting, manicures done at a Victorian writing table, and pedicures given in Italian bowls. There’s also a choice of a chocolate manicure-pedicure; an ambrosial milk-honey-and-cream-of-coconut soak, followed by a fresh-fruit exfoliation; and a chocolate-coffee-and-milk body wrap. Thankfully, you are allowed to escape the standard New Agey fare and pick your own CD to relax to.

Dr. Howard Sobel Skin and Spa

960 Park Avenue, at 82nd Street
(212-288-0060)

Many spas now have affiliations with doctors who aren’t actually on premises, but this is the real deal. The Botox-and-collagen set like to get pampered here, where liposuction is performed in the stainless-steel operating facility, serious facials are conducted in nearby rooms, and the staff mainly comprises registered nurses. The signature treatment uses human growth hormone, which stimulates fresh cell growth. There’s also a clarifying facial with a sulfur mask and an enzyme peel; a vitamin C anti-oxidant facial, and a lightening treatment for dark spots and sun damage.

Acqua Beauty Bar

The newest scrub in this minimalist spa is done with ground toasted almonds, and the body treatment du jour is an oolong-tea wrap, for improving skin tone. There are several varieties of electronic muscle stimulation for the face, one in which electrodes are placed directly on the skin. Asian cold-stone therapy, using jade stones along the facial meridians to restore energy and balance, is offered, along with the more common hot-stone therapy for the body.

Nickel

77 Eighth Avenue
(212-242-3203)

Only in Chelsea would you find a men-only spa that offers the Bodybuilder’s Waxing Special. Basic facials—exfoliation, extraction, and moisturizing—are the most popular choices, but come spring, try the Love Handle Wrap, which targets winter excess with an anti-fat-cell gel. You’ll feel relaxed after a stop here, but the main floor’s fluorescent lighting may hit you like a double espresso, causing a sudden desire for a night of clubbing. That’s all right. There’s always the 30-minute Face Rescue Express facial, offered to those suffering from too much partying.

The Spa at Equinox

140 East 63rd Street
(212-750-4671)

Flowers and a view of the pool greet you when you enter this quiet enclave inside a bustling gym. For winter, the comfiest choice is the Self-heating Mud Facial, which is accompanied by a warm seaweed-and-mud mask. One of the most popular treatments is the salad facial, made from fresh edibles and full of vitamins and antioxidants. Two separate treatments are available just for the eyes—a botanical one for puffiness and a collagen option for wrinkling. Massages are sports-oriented and come with the option of simultaneous reflexology.


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