Getting Pampered by the Bay

Writer Catharine Nicol | December 24, 2014


With a great location near Union Square, the Four Seasons has a light, bright contemporary take on luxury, with local art turning heads and Californian cuisine tempting palates. Although there’s no dedicated spa in the hotel itself, the Sports Club/LA Fitness Centre, a popular membership club for locals, puts you right in the middle of San Francisco’s keenest gym rats, pool lappers and spa-goers. The spa is secluded below the hi-energy feel of the gym and great for an escape. The menu is eclectic, and stand-out treatments include the customised Advanced Body therapy, a reminder of Asia via their Thai massage, which is performed on a futon and should be called an Asian fusion massage as it also incorporates shiatsu and yoga. Facials like the popular Renewing flood the complexion with vitamins, peptides and hydration, and there’s their Total Relaxation Programme of scrub, facial, massage, wrap and lunch.


Up in Pacific Heights, International Orange is a wonderful one-stop shop; part spa, part yoga studio, part skincare retail and completely charming. The wood and white Zen-designed space has a small but funky changing room, seven treatment rooms (four body, three for aesthetics), and a yoga studio hosting local yogis and yoginis, where mood-lifting chinks of sun slant through the blinds on a sunny day. The 11-year- old sanctuary is a firm favourite in the local and very residential neighbourhood with a signature IO Massage of Swedish, acupressure, Thai and shiatsu techniques, the Essential Oil massage with a choice of six In Fiore body balms, a signature and personalised IO Focus facial, their new 75-minute Acne Facial and spa days that include yoga. And therapists might mix and match skincare brands mid-facial too, taking expertise from May Lindstrom, Arcona and Kai, In Fiore and Sircuit (San Franciscan brands), SkinCeuticals, Kahina argan oil, Malin + Goetz and Dr Alkaitis, which Leslie describes as “so organic you could probably eat it”. Her own International Orange line includes a deliciously energising shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and all-natural deodorant. There are organic make-up lines like Kjaer Weis and RMS Beauty, and you can do your yoga apparel shopping here too. Pre- and post-shopping, class or treatment, put your feet up in the relaxation room with organic chocolate, apricots and tea or absorb some vitamin D on the wooden terrace out back.

A sunny day in San Francisco feels like California at its best, and with all that innovative, accessible wellness on physical, mental and spiritual tap, I can’t help thinking, “I could so live here”