Fairfax Red Door Spa

When the Fairfax branch of the Red Door spa opened this past October, it became the sixth outlet of the spa chain to open in the Washington area. I’ve been a fan of the Chevy Chase Red Door for years, and I was looking forward to a relaxing afternoon at its sibling. It’s on the second floor of an office building in the bustling Fairfax Corner Town Center.

“Have you been here before?” the receptionist asked. I shook my head no. She led me to the small locker room, with lockers covered in the kind of faux wood that often covers office desks, and handed me a fluffy robe and slippers. I changed and made my way to the “relaxation area,” a modern room done up in chilly shades of gray and slate blue. I knew there were drinks offered—a coffee table was littered with empty glasses—but nobody told me where I could find them. Mohair blankets sat in messy piles along the long, angular couches. The magazines were tattered and outdated. A man in a bathrobe paced the room, muttering that the temperature was too cold. I was relieved when my aesthetician fetched me for my Red Door Signature facial.

I told her my skin didn’t have too many problems—just some midwinter dryness. She settled me onto a comfortable and warm padded massage bed, placed some cool pads over my eyelids, and examined my pores under an intense light.

The facial comes with a choice of eight masks, from a sage balancing mask to a mint purifying mask. She recommended substituting a chamomile lavender seaweed mask, which cost $25 extra. I needed all the moisture I could get, so I decided to spring for it.

The aesthetician used pleasantly fragrant chamomile-based products to cleanse, tone, and moisturize my skin. She slipped warm mittens on my hands, gave me a nicely transportive face massage, and slathered on the thick seaweed mask, which stayed on for ten minutes. At the end of the service, I had to remind her that I wanted extractions done.

My skin looked unusually shiny in the locker-room mirror. I paid the bill—$108 for the 50-minute facial and $25 for the mask, plus a $20 tip. The next day, my skin felt just as dry as before—there wasn’t much discernable change. In the end, I felt like I’d paid top dollar for an average facial in a spa that’s low on charm.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.