Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore
200 International Dr., Baltimore; 410-576-5800.
This luxury hotel spared no expense on its 10,200-square-foot spa. Guests walk along a floor inlaid with smooth white pebbles before being escorted to spacious locker rooms and his-and-hers "heat experience" areas, which include heated loungers, whirlpools, a sauna, a steam room, and an experiential shower. These white-on-white lounges offer not just a place to relax—with hot tea, infused water, and dried fruit—but also superb views of Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
Several of the 11 treatment rooms feature in-room showers. Diana Greer wins raves for massage ($130 and up), as do the marine-themed treatments ($255 and up).
Of note: If possible, reserve the Tea Tree or VIP couples suite, which features a two-person jetted tub, a rainfall shower, and a terrace looking over the water.
Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC
2800 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-342-0444.
This Georgetown spa's facilities are pristine. A sauna and steam room are attached to each changing room, and everything from nail files to hair products are available near the softly lit mirrors.
We opted for a 50-minute aromatherapy massage ($145), which was deeply soothing and eliminated even stubborn knots and sore spots. The spa is also known for its Kate Somerville ($140 to $160) facials.
Of note: Valet parking (normally $25) is free for up to three hours with any spa treatment, offering the chance to shop or get lunch in Georgetown after your appointment.
The Pearl Spa
8171 Maple Lawn Blvd., Suite 100, Fulton, Md.; 301-776-6948.
This 11,000-square-foot spa in Howard County offers the luxuries of a big hotel spa without the hefty price tag. And the sea-themed space has one of the best lounges around: While you wait for your therapist, you'll receive a warming neck wrap, a plush robe, and tea; after a treatment, you can indulge in Champagne and brownies.
Treatments are all serenity-inducing, from massages ($65 and up) to facials ($70 and up), but the most unusual service is the Blue Grotto ($85 a person). In a private, herbal-infused steam room, you and your significant other or best friend wield paintbrushes, covering your skin with purifying, hydrating clay before relaxing to a light show and rain shower. Other treatments include a color-therapy bath and a hammam (a Moroccan ritual).
Of note: Bring your iPod—you can listen to your own playlist during a treatment.
Red Door Spa
4210 Fairfax Corner West Ave., Fairfax; 703-968-2922.
The Washington area has eight Red Door Spas, but Elizabeth Arden fans know that one of the best is in Fairfax Corner.
You're escorted past the hair and nail stations to a changing room with plush robes and slippers. Then it's off to a dimly lit relaxation area with tea, coffee, water, and an ample selection of magazines while you wait for your appointment.
The service is warm and friendly. Therapist Mayulee Nelson is recommended for Brazilian waxing ($75), and we loved John Smith for a very pampering Signature Massage ($125).
Of note: The changing area is small, with just one shower in the men's area, two for women. If possible, book an appointment for a weekday to avoid crowded spaces.