My first impression of the Ritz-Carlton Spa wasn’t great. When I called to make an appointment for Stone Therapy ($150), I was surprised to hear that the touted signature treatment was offered only Thursday through Sunday. When I asked for a morning massage, the distracted receptionist offered a time in the late afternoon. It took us 15 minutes to nail down an appointment.
But after I wind my way through the towering hotel in Tysons, I brighten up. The spa is a bastion of elegance.
When I reach the whisper-quiet spa—it takes two elevator rides to get there—I’m warmly welcomed, then whisked off on a quick tour of the lushly carpeted changing room lined with wooden lockers, plus a steam room and sauna. There is also a workout room and pool that clients can use.
I’m given a comfy robe and spa slippers, and I sink into a velvet couch in the sage-green waiting room. It’s more highbrow than other spas: Philip Glass’s soundtrack from The Hours is playing, and issues of Architectural Digest and Smithsonian are spread across the table.
I don’t wait long for Megan, my massage therapist, to find me. I climb onto the bedlike massage table in the candlelit treatment room, and Megan explains the massage: She’ll place volcanic basalt stones of varying temperatures all over my body and massage me with both her hands and the stones.
She lays the very warm stones in unexpected places—on my forehead, under my spine, between my toes. Her lavender oil-enhanced massage is light but transportive, more relaxing than therapeutic. I slip into a meditative bliss, and when I’m roused can’t believe 90 minutes have floated by. When I sleepily get up to go, Megan’s waiting right outside, offering ice water.