Great Massage

Treatment we had: Hot-stone massage (an hour and a quarter), $125.

What we loved: Massages by Chris Swingler, an experienced therapist—she’s been at Bella Donna for 13 years—who’s also an Air Force veteran.

My hot-stone massage, which included Swedish technique, was done with hot and cold oiled stones, which were used at pressure points and placed between toes and fingers. Periodically, Chris would help me sit up to sip cool water, which she said would help flush out toxins. At the end of the hour, I was in a trance-like state and the most relaxed

I’d felt in months. Subsequent deep-tissue massages with Chris were just as wonderful—my muscles felt loose for up to a week afterward.

What you should know: You can sign up for e-mail specials, which advertise last-minute deals, free giveaways, and promotions such as acupuncture happy hours, where sessions are free or deeply discounted.

Bottom line: Don’t expect a luxurious day spa—it’s next to a strip mall. But the rooms are quiet, clean, and well equipped. And it’s the best massage I’ve had in this area. A regular one-hour Swedish massage, without hot stones, is $85.

Bella Donna Spa, 7025-H Manchester Blvd., Alexandria (Kingstowne); 703-313-7945;

>> See all 2009 Great Day Spas