All photos by Whitney Cox
It’s not just a spa; it’s Spa 1851. Created by the self-professed “old-world apothecary,” Kiehl’s, the spa is the epitome of relaxation done the hip, cool New Yorker way.
Located through the back of their Upper East Side retail store, the entrance to the spa is almost hidden from view, like acceptance is a secret right of passage only for those “in the know.” Missing is any snobbery whatsoever; in its place is a chill vibe for people who just really dig skincare.
After checking in for my Deeply Nourishing and Moisturizing Body Polish, I was whisked up to the second-floor spa where I sunk into a comfy leather chair and waited for my personal scrub to be mixed and heated. From my perch, I couldn’t help looking at the New Yorkers scurrying along on the street below and thinking that they didn’t know what they were missing.
Rustic wood floors, exposed brick walls and vintage metallic ceiling tiles give the whole place a loft-like feel. Large splashes of color on the remaining walls and gorgeous white orchids on every window sill add to the carefully sculpted aura of the place. The anticipation was killing me. Seriously excited for an hour of me time, I was led into the treatment room.
Even in the individual rooms, the details are not to be outdone. Salts, lavender, and other ingredients line the wall in glass jars with handwritten labels. The stunning mural of Mount Everest evokes a sense of serene, crisp calm in case the dimmed lighting, relaxing music and super-soft linens aren’t quite enough.
The body polish itself was every bit as totally awesome as I’d expected. First a scrub was applied to the whole body and massaged through to remove all those dead skin cells built up this winter (I guess I don’t exfoliate as much as I should). A special milk and honey scrub was used for my face — just delightful.
After a brief shower to remove the scrub, it was back to the table for the moisturizing portion of the treatment. The scents and sensations were just what I needed to propel me out of the winter hibernation that has taken hold these past few months.
If you’ve been looking for a spa that’s a little bit different, a little bit rock and roll and all fabulous — try Spa 1851. Choose from a whole list of facials that are tailored to your individual skincare needs as well as massages and men’s services.
But for soft, glowing skin just in time for spring, I have to recommend the body polish. Those dry elbows and legs are just asking for a little exfoliation before you unleash them on the city.
Kiehl’s Spa 1851
157 East 64th Street at Lexington Avenue