Good Facial

Treatment we had: Greta Garbo facial, $120.

What we liked: Hela is a peaceful, pretty spa, with soft-green walls and a clean-lined Swedish sensibility. The staff was quick to offer me water or tea, and there was a nice selection of magazines to browse—although I didn’t wait long before Amber Meyer came to get me.

Meyer is one of the spa’s most popular aestheticians, and I soon saw one reason why—her delicate strokes, whether she was massaging facial muscles or smoothing on various lotions, were extremely relaxing. Her seeming knowledge of skin and her advice inspired more confidence. I also liked that when I asked her not to mess up my hair too much, she went looking for a different headband that did the trick.

What you should know: While I thought the facial was very good, I found the price—$120 plus tip—a bit high for 50 minutes. The facial included the standard deep cleaning, exfoliation, steaming, extractions, and mask, but nothing extra—no heated hand mitts, no extensive shoulder-and-neck massage—as some spas provide.

Another unfortunate flaw: Sound carries in this small spa. The gentle music in the treatment room could not mask voices in the hall, heavy footfalls, and what sounded like someone washing dishes.

Bottom line: This spa offers a peaceful oasis with a very competent staff. They’re particularly known for facials. But you pay for that expertise.

Hela, 3209 M St., NW; 202-333-4445;

>> See all 2009 Great Day Spas

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.