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Spa Bucket List

Traveling, whether for business or pleasure, can sometimes be stressful. A good massage and some body pampering can do wonders for jet lag and muscles knotted from cramped airline seats. While most luxury hotels now boast on-site spas with every possible indulgence, they can be a little cookie-cutter in their overall style. There are some amazing alternatives to hotel spas out there—so put these on your to-do list.


The Spanish company Aire Ancient Baths has made a business model of restoring historic buildings and turning them into Greco-Roman bathing palaces. In Chicago, a former factory is now a temple of rejuvenation that lures guests with indoor-outdoor pools, and options running from ice baths to salt-water floats. Choose from a full slate of aromatherapy, massage services, and other wildly sybaritic experiences such as a private candlelit soak in red wine. Cell phones are banned and guest occupancy is limited to ensure a tranquil soak.  

San Francisco

Delivering “curated holistic wellness in a simple yet thoughtful sanctuary” is the mission of International Orange, a Zen-like spa with two locations in Pacific Heights and Marin. Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Roberts are fans of its minimalist, health-focused approach to body work. Yoga, massage, skin care, and acupuncture are among its offerings.

New York

Great Jones Spa is unique. It blends luxe spa services with a happening city vibe. From hot stone saunas to chakra-light steam rooms to cold plunge pools and more, Great Jones can unbend those urban tensions. A full menu of skin, body work, and beauty treatments is available. The centerpiece is the “water lounge,” an atrium pool banked with the soothing sounds of a three-story waterfall. The in-house juice bar is a spot for people-watching.


Located in the hills west of the city, Lake Austin Spa nestles against the banks of the Colorado River. The peaceful vibe permeates every aspect of the property and its beautiful grounds. Consistently ranked among the Top 10 spas in the US by Conde Nast Traveler, Lake Austin Spa offers great day packages that include massage, beauty and skin treatments, salon services and more.

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