The city that never sleeps can also be a city that is rather secretive. Signage-free restaurants, password-protected clubs and tons of offerings that only “those-in-the know” have access to populate the streets almost as much as Starbucks. And, even the serene spa world is not exempt from the exclusivity. Here are five of our favorite off-the-menu treatments in New York that you won’t find advertised.
Customizable and completely off-the-menu, Red Flower’s 90-minute Soothing Scrub treatment at the ever-luxurious Carlyle Hotel Sense Spa starts with your selection of scent—French lavender, Icelandic moonflower or Indian jasmine—and quickly parlays into total pampering with a head-to-toe experience that includes a full-body exfoliation, shower, lotion application and massage.
Superpersonalized (all the skin-care products are individually formulated), hands-on (you’ll have access to a dedicated Peninsula Spa Haute Couture Concierge) and spanning over six months (you come back in for regular facials), the Biologique Recherche Haute Couture at The Peninsula Spa is the ultimate when it comes to bespoke skin care—no two treatments are alike and you have to make special reservations even to be seen for this one. It’s also really scientific, as there is an in-depth skin analysis that helps to assess what exactly your complexion would best benefit from.
Leave it to the middle of Manhattan to erect a spa that’s as much of a few-thousand-years-ancient enclave as it is a modern outpost for decadent relaxation. The underground retreat centers on the thermal bath treatment, an ode to public bathing that includes aromatherapy and a mix-and-match choice of various massage methods and time increments. Spa director Silvia Barnett says the most exclusive offering is the off-the-menu option of renting out the entire space for you and your group of friends (up to 25 of them) and having your own private bath session. The cost of privacy isn’t cheap—you’ll pay $3,500 for the service on weekends—but it is a good alternative for those who aren’t quite ready to make the foray into public bathing, as you have the entire area to yourself and don’t have to follow the silence policy Aire usually has in place. Barnett says it’s particularly good for bachelorette and birthday parties.
When Cornelia Spa reopened its version within The Surrey, the brand decided to elevate their offerings beyond the usual treatment menu and really showcase the experts. Ellen Sackoff and her team’s “Experts in Residence,” a curation of spa services modeled after the art world’s approach to exhibits, brings a rotating lineup of authorities like Melanie Simon and her Chemistry Facial, Chris Matestic offering his Matestic Method, Billy Yamaguchi in house for Feng Shui hairstyling, and Diane Goldner for energy healing.
At the corner of superluxe La Prairie and the always-enviable location of Central Park South is The Ritz-Carlton spa, a place that is known for exclusive treatments and incredibly outstanding facials (it’s also the only La Prairie spa in NYC). One off-the-treatment menu item is the 90-minute Microderm Facial, a more in-depth version of the hour-long treatment that offers serious (but never red) skin resurfacing with a massage and a hand treatment.