Windsor of Old Town Spa

Windsor of Old Town, like some other day spas in Alexandria’s historic heart, is in a small, classic rowhouse. It’s a prime location if you want to shop or have a meal in Old Town before or after your spa visit.

You do trade location for a bit of comfort: The restroom doubles as the women’s locker room. Treatment rooms can be small; my massage therapist kept bumping against the massage table and into the walls when she moved about.

The staff is pleasant and efficient. Within a minute of my arrival, I was escorted through the hair salon on the bottom floor, up a set of narrow wooden stairs, to the second-floor spa, sealed off by a glass door. Stephanie, my massage therapist, was waiting.

After filling out a one-page health questionnaire, I changed in the restroom into a white terrycloth robe. I couldn’t find slippers—they were missing from my locker—so I walked barefoot to the massage room, noting that the floor could use vacuuming.

Stephanie stepped out of the room so I could disrobe and slip under the sheet on the heated massage table. I hung my robe on the back of the door, then turned around. I was standing fully exposed in front of a window. It faced two office windows across the alley—luckily, no one seemed to be looking out. I quickly got under the sheet. When she returned, Stephanie apologized and lowered the blind.

The rest of the session went smoothly. Although she has practiced for only two years, Stephanie’s strokes were confident. She found a kink in my neck and worked on it patiently. For stubborn spots, she used a heated flat stone—a pleasant surprise. She applied long, soothing strokes that started on the back of my calf and went up the leg, across the hip, and up my back, stopping at the shoulder blade. For the price—$75 for an hour—it was a good massage.

Windsor has been in business 24 years, and it has a following. At the end, I was still not convinced it was a place I’d return to unless I was in Old Town. As I was leaving, I spotted the Gentlemen’s Quarters. This separate facility for men is a clubby space, with red walls, dark woods, leather wingback chairs, flat-screen TVs, and a minibar. There are private rooms for hair coloring and manicures. Men can have their shoes shined or enjoy a hot shave.

Maybe I would come back—with my husband.

Gentlemen’s Quarters, 105 S. Union St., Alexandria; 703-836-7330; 

Executive Editor

Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986. She is the editor in charge of such consumer topics as travel, fitness, health, finance, and beauty, as well as the editor who handles such cover stories as Great Places to Work, Best of Washington, Day Trips, Hidden Gems, Top Doctors, and Great Small Towns. She lives in DC.