Relâche Spa at Gaylord National

Treatment we had: Relâche Signature Massage, $145 for 50 minutes.

What we loved: Decorated in black and white, Relâche is minimalist and modern—think Chanel with a serene Asian sensibility. The locker room is huge, with a sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi, and a changing “cabana” off the main locker room where the modest can undress in private. Shelves and cubbies are stocked with everything from plush towels to canisters of hair ties. The coed relaxation lounge has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Potomac River.

What you should know: Since its grand opening in April 2008, Gaylord National, the largest combined non-casino hotel and conference center on the East Coast, has been plagued with problems. My Gaylord experience was no exception. When I called to book my massage, I was put on hold for more than 20 minutes.

On the day of my treatment, I arrived early so I would have time to work out in the fitness center, which is an elevator ride and a five-minute walk away in the basement. After a run on the treadmill, I reached for a cup of water but found an empty water cooler; the front desk was vacant, so there was no one there to ask for help.

Bottom line: A chic—but very pricey—day spa that’s still working through some kinks.

Relâche Spa at Gaylord National, 201 Waterfront St., National Harbor; 301-965-4400;

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