Top City Spas

by Catherine Shaw
wifm_winter10_low-1Tokyo’s incredible array of therapies and treatments

With so many spas to choose from, finding the right one can be daunting. The trick is to know their signature treatments.

The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo has a particularly good relaxation area 36 floors above the chic streets of Nihonbashi. Arrive an hour before to soak in the large vitality pool offering panoramic views of Tokyo. The spa’s therapies, developed in consultation with specialists in Traditional Chinese Medicine, use customblended essential oils created by UK-based Aromatherapy Associates. I highly recommend the 180-minute Art of Escape that includes a body wrap and aromatherapy facial designed to speed up natural cellular metabolism.

For an authentic Japanese spa experience, Conrad Tokyo’s sleek urban Mizuki Spa offers a wonderful blend of ancient Japanese and modern therapies in a contemporary spa setting. The Mizuki Spirit, a 150-minute blissful experience, starts with a relaxing foot scrub, traditional matcha (green tea) and tiny macaroons. After a long relaxing soak in a fragrant traditional hinoki wood bath you’ll be in the perfect frame of mind for the expert deep tissue bamboo massage and relaxing facial that follows. After, the therapist gently guides you to a Zen-like relaxation room where you are served herbal teas and fresh fruits.

wifm_winter10_low-25Another quintessentially Japanese spa experience is the traditional onsen (hot spring bath) and spa at the boutique-style Four Seasons Tokyo at Marunouchi. Mineral-rich waters brought in from the hotel’s sister property in Chinzan-so offer visitors the opportunity to combine contemporary therapies with nature’s own healing treatment. The spa’s new organic “In Fiore” products from San Francisco and deeply rejuvenating facials have quickly become a cult treatment in Tokyo. Meanwhile the Four Seasons Tokyo at Chinzan-so’ offers a spectacular garden setting for relaxation. Book well ahead for the Yusui VIP spa suite that opens onto a private traditional Japanese garden and open-air onsen. The 90-minute indulgent Ultimate Renewal facial, guaranteed to transform mature dry skin, uses essential oil of frankincense and a double layer of facial masks with mud and an intense hydrating gel. The treatment includes a relaxing back massage.

wifm_winter10_low-28Fashionistas will enjoy the über glam Armani/ Spa Ginza Tower conveniently located in Tokyo’s most exclusive shopping district. Book a spa journey to enjoy the unique Circular Treatment Room, a cocoon-like retreat. The 90-minute Armani Face Ceremony for men is particularly recommended—after all, now in his late 70s, Giorgio himself is living proof of the benefits of taking good care of your skin.

CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La also offers a soothing sanctuary from busy Tokyo with interiors and treatments that reflect traditional Asian healing philosophies. The spa is named after traditional Chinese philosophy, chi, the universal life force governing well being and vitality. Treatments are based on the principles of restoring balance and harmony to mind andwifm_winter10_low-29body and draw on the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Favorites include the 105-min Chi Balance that uses shiatsu for yang stimulation and relaxing body works to calm yin, or the 1-hr Pearl Brightening Body Glow featuring the minerals and amino acids of pearl in a scrub to brighten skin.

The Peninsula Tokyo has a bevy of excellent therapists, all of whom speak impeccable English. The 6th floor spa, with views over the palace grounds and decorated with Kyoto washi artist Eriko Horiki’s stunning washi lightshades, has a calm and relaxing atmosphere. The 110-min traditional Keihatsu Enlightenment Massage, a must-have for when mind, body and soul feel out of alignment, starts with a light body brushing followed by a deeply relaxing massage using hands, forearms and heated stones, and ends with a blissful head massage. Treatments are reasonably priced, particularly on weekdays. Arrive early to indulge in the heat experience and fabulous mint or lavender fragranced “rain” showers.

wifm_winter10_low-30In Tokyo Midtown, The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo offers a thoroughly modern urban spa. The 90-minute Blissful back, face and Scalp holistic treatment is particularly effective for tense back, neck and shoulders—starting with a hot lava stone back massage to relax deep tissues, which then continues with hot stones lined along your spine and facing up, with an intensive ESPA facial. The indulgence ends with an especially effective Oriental head Massage. The spa’s 60-min Jet-Lag Reviver, another favorite after long-distance travel, is perfect for rehydrating and rebalancing your body.

Of course if you’re looking for a complete escape, the Grand Hyatt Tokyo’s NAGOMI Spa and Fitness is the place for you. Not only will you avoid bumping into any of your Tokyo friends, since only hotel guests and spa club members can make use of it, you’ve got the perfect excuse to book in to the hotel for an overnight stay! Don’t miss the Back to Nature, a newly introduced massage treatment with two aestheticians. Picture a deep relaxing massage delivered by four hands, simultaneously. The 90-minute treatment starts with a Turkish exfoliation followed by a Moor mud wrap for detoxification and muscle relaxation. The treatment then moves on to a facial massage and masque, followed by the four-hand full body massage. Reserve the NAGOMI suite with its two treatment beds and its own Japanese granite stone soaking bath, steam shower and private bathroom and your spa partner will be eternally grateful.wifm_winter10_low-31

The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

Conrad Tokyo’s Mizuki Spa

Four Seasons Tokyo at Marunouchi

Four Seasons Tokyo at Chinzan-so
03 3943-2222

Armani/Spa Ginza Tower

CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La

The Peninsula Tokyo

The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo

Grand Hyatt Tokyo, Nagomi Spa and Fitness