There are few things I love more than a day at the spa. Basically, my life's goal is to one day design my at-home rituals to resemble that of a spa experience (my bathroom is getting there). As a self-proclaimed spa connoisseur, I’m no stranger to out-of-the-ordinary services. Like the time I had a four-handed Mayan massage in Mexico (still one of the best massages I’ve ever received). Or an authentic Ayuverdic treatment in Nusa Dua, Bali called Shirodhara that involves gently pouring liquids over the forehead to help eliminate toxins and mental fatigue. It worked. I was in a state of meditation like no other.
Then there was the time I was cradled in a hammock while my therapist stretched every limb from underneath. It’s called "Heaven in a Hammock," and it’s a zero-gravity experience. There have been a handful of times I’ve been massaged on the beach or the countless deep tissue massages in Bangkok and Phuket that cost less than I spend at my local coffee shop. But, what all of these treatments have in common, is they took place outside of California.
On a quest to find unique spa offerings where I live, in L.A., I uncovered my new favorite spa in Beverly Hills, a facial that’s an alternative to plastic surgery, and a treatment that’s technically illegal in some states. Ahead, the details of said spa experiences that have garnered a place on my list of unique spa treatments.
Owned by Tomoko Kurono, and a favorite of celebrities including Jessica Alba, the experience is single-handedly the most unique, high-end spa service in L.A. It is also without hesitation the best massage I have received in my hometown. From the moment you step into Tomoko Japanese Spa in Beverly Hills, you’re given a pair of traditional Japanese sandals and ushered into the minimal, neutral-toned sanctuary. You’re served a tray with warm tea, water with lemon, mochi, and chocolate before stepping into your treatment room. As the therapist slides the wooden door closed behind her, you're asked to change into a yukata. Then, you’re handed soothing ginger tea, and given a 15-minute detox foot soak.
The treatment room is expansive and bare, allowing the therapist (whose soft demeanor is not an indication of her strength) ample space to maneuver around you—and at times climb on top of you. For the duration of the 70-minute treatment, every technique was done with precision and purpose. Also, the products used are all Japanese and non-toxic. Your therapist bows as she leaves the room and it's time to get back to reality.
At The Ritz-Carlton Spa in L.A., CBD isn’t just a massage oil add-on—there’s a legitimate CBD-designed message that’s part of the CBD collection. (There’s also a facial and pedicure.) Among many others, the CBD treatments work to help alleviate anxiety and muscular pain. Check and check.
The CBD Healing Massage is a 50- or 80-minute massage that incorporates up to five kinds of CBD products by Mary’s Nutritionals that’s grown and developed in Colorado. The treatment begins with the option to drop a tincture of CBD under your tongue. The massage also uses hemp-based products including oil, a compound, and muscle freeze that is a departure from the strong-smelling Tiger Balm. As a parting gift, you’re given a second dose of a CBD tincture to take at home, and an award-winning CBD patch to use as needed. The patch is fast working and effective. Speaking from experience, it immediately relieves tension in your neck when you’re stuck in traffic.
The price of this Liquid Surgery Facial at the Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills is basically the same as my rent. It’s a two-hour treatment, that’s a casual one thousand dollars. What makes it so crazy expensive? During the facial, you’re slathered in an MBR serum that’s near twice the price, and where the facial gets its name. You may not want to wash your face until the next morning, just sayin'.
The treatment also incorporates micro-current therapy to help lift the skin. The result on sagging skin is an immediate lift and will last a few days, explains my aesthetician, Lea. The before and after is less obvious on youthful skin though I definitely noticed my cheeks here a little higher and a lift around my mouth. The treatment got me thinking about anti-aging, and I learned from Lea the importance of treating the skin on our neck and décolleté the same as our face. The treatment also piqued my interest in MBR’s line of products, particularly the foam cleanser, which helps the regeneration of cells and is under $100.
Visiting The Now is like taking a trip to Tulum. The decor is minimal, with neutral tones and textiles that feel like you're on a sandy beach surrounded by desert plants. Crystals aren't only part of the vibe, but also make their way into treatments like a crystal healing enhancement, which is the "placement of charged healing crystals on chakras." The add-on is designed to help heal and reduce emotional stress.
Spiritual well-being is part of the spa experience here. The menu includes The Healer massage, which can be booked as a 25-, 50- or 80-minute service starting at $45. The treatment is designed to balance your energy and "deepen self-awareness."
The Spa at Montage Beverly Hills is a Moroccan sanctuary. It features a co-ed mineral pool and Eastern-inspired treatments like the Hammam Vichy Ritual. The 90-minute treatment includes a body exfoliation, followed by a Vichy experience (multiple shower heads raining down on you as you lay on a table), a scalp massage and hair wash. If you've never experienced a Vichy shower before, prepare for the cleanest you'll ever feel, and to leave wishing you have the same kind of water pressure at home.