Willard Continental's cozy Red Door Spa mixes Old World service with modern touches. Photograph courtesy of Red Door Spa
Boutique Spa at the Ritz-Carlton
3100 South St., NW; 202-912-4175
Although the very intimate Boutique Spa at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown has just four treatment rooms, it offers such amenities as a small steam room and changing area plus a relaxation nook where you can curl up with a magazine and enjoy a piece of chocolate or a glass of tea.
We liked the Blueberry facial ($225 for 80 minutes), done with extracts of blueberry, raspberry, and pineapple and said to tighten skin. Our favorite massage therapist, Yanick Malone, may be one of the area’s best. A 50-minute massage is $125.
Valet parking is free with any treatment.
Bottom line: Cozy and oh-so-relaxing, this might be our favorite below-the-radar spa.
485-A Carlisle Dr., Herndon; 571-323-1088
Good luck trying to get a quick appointment with Calvert Thompson, owner of this charming, hard-to-find day spa located five minutes from Reston Town Center. Thompson is typically booked three weeks in advance thanks to her growing reputation as a massage therapist and certified technician for Accent XL, a device that promises skin tightening and cellulite reduction.
Luckily, the talent pool on staff is deep. Aesthetician Barbara Mead has a soothing manner and magically soft hands. She gave our tester the spa’s hourlong Signature Facial ($128), which included a tingling chemical peel and easier-than-expected extractions that left her skin noticeably softer and glowing. We can’t wait to return for an upcoming appointment—Mead can supposedly administer a lightning-quick bikini wax that rivals anyone’s best in Rio de Janeiro.
Bottom line: An unexpected treasure—for superior facials, waxing, and massage—hidden amid leafy suburban sprawl.
Lorien Hotel & Spa
1600 King St., Alexandria; 703-894-5130
Though it’s small, the spa at Old Town’s Lorien Hotel has a following for a reason. The spa is as relaxing for visitors as it is for hotel guests—all spa-goers get access to the changing facilities, steam room, showers, and fitness center.
You can relax pre-treatment in the softly lit waiting area, which has the same clean, modern lines as the hotel. Enjoy snacks such as nuts, dried fruit, and tea.
The only area Kimpton property with an in-house spa, the Lorien specializes in relaxing treatments that match the hotel’s “dream menu” concept. We suggest the aromatherapy massage ($110 for 50 minutes), which uses 98 percent organic products and a custom-selected scent to help you drift off. We hear the facials are great, too.
Bottom line: Infinitely relaxing, the Lorien has the feel of a destination spa.
Red Door Spa at the Willard InterContinental
1401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-942-2700
This Red Door Spa by Elizabeth Arden is in one of Washington’s grande dame hotels, and it mixes Old World service with modern touches.
If you book the Signature Stress Melter Ritual ($220), a 110-minute massage and body scrub, you can rinse off in the spa room’s private multi-head shower, which adds an extra dose of luxury. In nice weather, you can relax between treatments by having lunch on the outdoor sun deck. Or spa with a loved one in one of the private saunas or steam rooms; Aqua Therapy baths range from soaks to longer treatments with exfoliation and moisturizing full-body masks ($50 to $200).
Bottom line: Perhaps the most upscale of all the local Red Door spas.
This article appears in the July 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.