Smart Urban Spas

A select group of urban spas that serve up sleek design on the outside and serenity within 

The Setai, Miami Beach

urban spas

Photo by David Cowan

If your Miami Beach agenda is more about peace than parties, The Setai is the hotel for you. Though it’s got a prime location right along South Beach, in the heart of the Art Deco district, the sleek, Asian-inspired property maintains a spa-like serenity throughout, from the Balinese-style beds in the lobby to the sophisticated courtyard lounge, to the private (and complimentary) hotel guests-only section of the beach.

The Far East flair continues in the intimate spa, in both the decor of the treatment suites (each with a private bathroom and shower or tub) and the menu, which features products from eco-conscious lines like VOYA, Ila, and Organic Naturelle D’Orient.  Scrubs and wraps incorporate Himalayan salt, Moroccan rhassoul mud, and mineral-rich bladderwrack seaweed. Facials treat skin with organic argan oil and powerful Amazon rainforest botanicals. And massage styles run the gamut from Balinese, Thai and Ayurvedic to the signature Setai Jade—a mix of five techniques performed by two therapists. Complimentary yoga on the beach is also on the menu.

—Sandra Ramani

Four Seasons Toronto

urban spas

Photo by Christian Horan

When Four Seasons built a new flagship hotel in their hometown of Toronto (opened in 2012), they went big: 301 chic, contemporary rooms by design heavyweights Yabu Pushelberg; dining from Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud; and a state-of-the-art ninth-floor spa that, at 30,000-square-feet with 17 treatment suites, is the largest in town.

In addition to all the first-class amenities and smart details—think product-stocked locker rooms, cabana-ringed indoor pool, snacks galore in the relaxation lounge—the treatments and overall experience were thoughtfully crafted with the busy urban dweller in mind. For example, all massage sessions of the same length are the same price, regardless of style (so you don’t pay more for deeper pressure, as is common), and all are performed using an aromatherapeutic mix of seven nourishing vegan oils, so you get the time-saving benefits of hydration, anti-aging skincare and aromatherapy.

Facials are geared toward results like firming and illuminating, and use products from lines like Amala. All of the products used in the wraps and scrubs were custom made for the spa, using ingredients from a California farm, and are 100 percent natural and 70 percent organic.  There’s also a full yoga and Pilates program, and an expansive gym with fun high-tech equipment—like treadmills that let you choose videos of destinations like LA or the Amalfi Coast “to run through.”

—Sandra Ramani

Spa Radiance, San Francisco

urban spas

Spa Radiance in San Francisco. Photo by Lance Skundrich

Spa Radiance might be right smack in the middle of San Francisco’s Cow Hollow neighborhood, but it’s hard to tell, with a recently revamped façade evocative of an elegant atelier in Paris. Designed by local interior decorator Jay Jeffers, the 38-year-old day spa is appointed with French Oak floors, an upholstered reception desk, and oversized artwork plucked from a nearby gallery. But, here, the products and service are also designed to match.

Seasoned spa-goers can peruse a well-edited apothecary area with organic product lines including Eminence, Luzern, and Marie Veronique Organics, or choose from farm-to-spa treatments such as the newly launched Berry Beautiful facial, loaded with age-defying and anti-inflammatory ingredients: fresh blueberries culled from a local farm, shea butter and evening primrose oil.

—Jennie Nunn