Urban spas can be tricky, especially in a place like New York City where space is at a premium. But the Mandarin Oriental has managed to create a beautiful Zen environment in the middle of Columbus Circle, bordering Central Park, in a building that also houses a shopping mall and luxury residential towers.
The elevator whisked me up to the 35th floor, where I promptly committed a major faux pas, by asking a large man in a dark suit wearing one of those CIA-style earpieces to direct me to the spa. Turns out he didn’t work for the hotel. “Happens all the time,” he said, while graciously escorting me to the spa entrance. After apologizing profusely and feeling like an idiot, I noticed that a large amethyst crystal was set behind glass in the wall right at the spa entrance. It was one of those “blink and you miss it” details that I loved. For me it also signaled forgiveness for my faux pas.
I was asked to change my shoes at check-in, when an attendant appeared with a tray that held a pair of slippers, and whisked away my sandals. I was then directed to the generously sized (by New York City standards) locker room, with full-sized lockers and all sorts of amenities, including scrunchies and separate rooms for toilets, with sinks in them as well. A short walk down a co-ed hallway (robes required) leads to the single sex wet areas, with a vitality pool (read: Jacuzzi with tubular chaise-like lounge submerged in it), experience showers, and an amethyst steam room. I popped into the steam room, and tried the experience showers (with different lights for each of the three experiences, including Fog and Rain Shower), but there was already a woman in the vitality pool, and there’s not a lot of room in there, especially considering said woman was naked (I’m all about maintaining proper psychological distance in a naked situation).
I noticed that a large amethyst crystal was set behind glass in the wall right at the spa entrance. It was one of those “blink and you miss it” details that I loved.
I popped back into the locker room to put on the loose pants and top the spa had provided for my Thai Yoga massage. The top was too small, the bottom was too large, but I had brought my own garments for the treatment (#Virgo), so all was not lost. The massage took place in one of the seven treatment rooms here—it was a small but gorgeous space, with western views of the city through louvered window coverings and orchid plants thoughtfully set on wall shelves.
After my 80-minute treatment I retired to the relaxation room, with plate glass windows bestowing beautiful city views. The room was a bit cramped, with chaise lounges placed a bit too close to each other for my taste, but that’s really one of the only negatives here. As far as New York City spas are concerned, the one at the Mandarin ranks amongst the top. It’s expensive, but you’ll rarely hear anyone complain.
Contributing Travel Editor Rima Suqi is an avid world traveler who was raised in an international home. She has explored and covered emerging destinations in the Middle East and Africa, far-flung luxury resorts in French Polynesia, as well as those closer to home including the burgeoning arts scene in Marfa, Texas. The Chicago native has traveled to over 40 countries, writing about the trends and tastemakers for leading travel and lifestyle publications, and subjected herself to innumerable spa treatments—sometimes under very odd circumstances—all in the name of journalism. Her work is regularly published in national and international outlets including The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Departures, Architectural Digest and Elle Decor; she has also written, consulted and hosted panels for hospitality brands including Proper Hotels, the Baccarat Hotel, Edition Hotels, St. Regis Hotels, Miraval Resorts, Mii Amo Spa at Enchantment, Grupo Habita and Marriott Hotels. Her last book American Fashion: Designers at Home (Assouline) in partnership with CFDA, sold out three printings.