Best Value Facial: Monique’s Esthetique
Treatment we had: Facial, $60.
What we loved: Monique Fournay Campion rubbed scented cream into my elbows, hands, and fingers, then slipped my gloved hands into warm mitts. She cleansed my face twice, did a scented shoulders/neck/back massage, used a sleek steam machine on my face, and did extractions by hand. A vitamin-A cream before and after downtime in a heated recliner led to total relaxation.
What you should know: Campion is a one-woman home-based operation just south of Rockville Town Center. She can be hard to reach but updates her phone message daily. The facial/massage room is warm and cozy.
Bottom line: The $60, no-tip facial is a bargain, and the friendly, soothing proprietor is a bonus.
Monique’s Esthetique, 304 Winding Rose Dr., Rockville; 301-340-2337.
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Good Facial: Toka Salon & Day Spa
Treatment we had: One-hour European facial with salicylic-acid peel, $150.
What we liked: Want an expert skin consultation but find a dermatologist’s office or med spa sterile? Consider a facial at Toka.
When I called to book an appointment, I asked if I had to choose a specific facial from its menu. I was told the aesthetician would determine which facial I needed. Sure enough, at the start of my visit, Linda Hardiman, the aesthetician, spent more than ten minutes determining what my face needed—by asking questions and examining my skin—before beginning steam, extractions, and ultimately a salicylic-acid peel for my clogged pores. The peel burned, as peels usually do, but a thorough shoulder-and-neck massage melted away the pain.
What you should know: This is not a day spa; it’s a salon with spa services. The treatment room I was in was little more than a closet, but the bed is heated and the room is clean and spacious enough for the therapist to move around.
Bottom line: The treatment was professionally done, and it worked—my skin, although blotchy where extractions were performed, cleared within the week.
Toka Salon & Day Spa, 3251 Prospect St., NW, Suite 19; 202-333-5133; 801 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, 202-628-5133; tokasalon.com.
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Great Massage: Bella Donna Spa
Treatment we had: Hot-stone massage (an hour and a quarter), $125.
What we loved: Massages by Chris Swingler, an experienced therapist—she’s been at Bella Donna for 13 years—who’s also an Air Force veteran.
My hot-stone massage, which included Swedish technique, was done with hot and cold oiled stones, which were used at pressure points and placed between toes and fingers. Periodically, Chris would help me sit up to sip cool water, which she said would help flush out toxins. At the end of the hour, I was in a trance-like state and the most relaxed I’d felt in months. Subsequent deep-tissue massages with Chris were just as wonderful—my muscles felt loose for up to a week afterward.
What you should know: You can sign up for e-mail specials, which advertise last-minute deals, free giveaways, and promotions such as acupuncture happy hours, where sessions are free or deeply discounted.
Bottom line: Don’t expect a luxurious day spa—it’s next to a strip mall. But the rooms are quiet, clean, and well equipped. And it’s the best massage I’ve had in this area. A regular one-hour Swedish massage, without hot stones, is $85.
Bella Donna Spa, 7025-H Manchester Blvd., Alexandria (Kingstowne); 703-313-7945; belladonnaspa.net.
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Nice but Not Worth a Special Trip: K Spa
Treatment we had: The Moroccan, $160.
What we loved: I wasn’t expecting great things from a spa located in the same shopping center as a Kmart, but one of the signature treatments—the Moroccan, a body-scrub/facial combo—sounded ideal for my winter skin.
It’s billed as being ideal for friends or couples, done in a room said to be big enough for two. But I found the room pretty small—because I’d booked the treatment just for me, a curtain closed off the other half of the room. The room was painted with murals that were a tad cheesy.
Still, the bed was clean and warm, and my therapist, Kimberly Brunson, immediately put me at ease as we discussed the best places to bargain-shop in the area. She began by cleansing my body with black soap, followed by a hot-oil scrub, which felt like a relaxing back scratch. The best part of the treatment was a facial with a pumpkin-scented mask. For days afterward, my skin glowed.
What you should know: This spa is nothing to look at—the decor is a bit cheesy and outdated, and the rooms are often cramped.
Bottom line: If you live nearby and would like a facial, ask for the owner, Kimberly, a knowledgeable aesthetician. But don’t expect a posh place, and we wouldn’t recommend a special trip.
K Spa, 7295 Commerce St., Springfield; 703-644-9525; k-spa.com.
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Great Locker Rooms: Spa Minérale
Treatment we had: 50-minute couples massage, $120 a person.
What we loved: A 45-minute drive from DC, this is a true destination spa where everything is top-notch. The staff is attentive; marble-adorned changing areas include sauna, steam, whirlpools, showers, and fluffy robes.
I had dragged along my boyfriend, who’d never been to a spa, promising relaxation and nothing too girly. He emerged after a half hour later in the men’s changing area and pronounced the experience already better than he’d expected.
We were escorted to a couples lounge, which featured an assortment of teas, blankets, and magazines. Separate lounge areas are also available for men and women. The couples treatment room was spacious, with soft lighting for a romantic glow.
As the massages progressed, my therapist worked out kinks in my neck and shoulders that felt as though they’d been there for years—kneading muscles almost to the point of pain but providing much-needed relief. My only complaint: When my boyfriend was asked to turn on his back, my therapist seemed to rush so that we could finish our treatments at the same time. Next time, I’ll book individual massages. But I can’t fault the result—I was loose and relaxed for days after.
What you should know: The treatments are expensive, but regulars can sign up for a “reward membership”; referrals, repeat treatments, and product purchases all earn points leading to discounts.
Bottom line: If you want a first-rate resort-spa experience without traveling far, this is it.
Spa Minérale, Lansdowne Resort, 44050 Woodridge Pkwy., Lansdowne; 703-729-4036; spaminerale.com.