Sometimes, you just need a good rubdown -- and ideally a sugar scrub, organic oils, and a little dab of shea butter along with it. Here are some Austin spas that offer all the bells and whistles.
In the middle of downtown Austin's hustle and bustle towers Mecca, where the road to serenity is a watery one. I'm talking about the "Mecca Monthly," a glorious three-service treatment that involves full body exfoliation under a warm vichy shower, a shea butter massage, and if you weren't relaxed enough already, a monthly signature cocktail. While I'll happily take a plain old massage any day of the week, it's that magical shower -- which, by the way, bathes you while you're lying down -- that makes Mecca a pleasure I don't feel at all guilty about.
One of the most beloved day spas in Austin, Viva is a bit pricey, but their (huge) spa menu delivers. When it's cold outside, go for the Whipped Hydrating Butter Body Wrap -- your dry skin will feel velvety again in no time.
Tucked away in a tiny shopping center housing both Dolce Vita and Hyde Park Bar & Grill, Blossom is easy to miss, but once you experience it, impossible to forget. The atmosphere here is intimate and personal, and the massage therapists extremely attentive to your body concerns -- but my personal favorite is the "90 Minute Ultimate Pampering Facial," which defines "face" liberally. It comes with a hand, arm, and chest massage, so while your skin is getting polished, you're getting a whole upper body treatment as well.
Microdermabrasion, dermaplaning, laser hair removal, Botox -- Austin Med Spa caters to the client who's ready for some high-tech skin care. But unlike other spas in this genre, Austin Med Spa is famously non-pushy: I.e., you aren't going to get a bunch of products shoved in your face (literally) upon arrival. Instead, you'll be greeted with a down-to-earth consultation before any treatment begins.
This art gallery / hair salon / organic facial spa is the love child of a seriously creative Austin couple who adore their community, and making their patrons feel spectacular. Ask for a facial with Yvette (one of the co-owners), who uses only natural products on your skin, but will yield results as impressive -- if not more so -- than chemicals. As Yvette puts it, "we're all about changing the eco-system of your skin, rather than continually taking off layers -- we want the whole organ to be healthier."
Driving out to Travaasa is a little bit like journeying through a tree-laden, Middle Earth forest to a mystical, mountain-top oasis: It's inside Austin proper, but far-flung from the inner city rush. The facials, massage, and even yoga classes here are all incredible, but my new favorite treatment is the "watsu," where a therapist takes you into a warm, private pool, holds you like a baby, and moves your limbs around in a healing dance. It's a terrific experience not only for the able-bodied, but for the elderly and disabled too, for whom traditional spa services aren't always accessible.
Spoiler alert: I've never been pregnant. But if and when I am, I'm coming to Blooming Pregnancy Spa based on friend raves alone. They swear by the prenatal massage, and when you're pregnant, feet become a point of swollen insecurity...but waltzing out of Blooming with a fresh pedicure certainly helps.
Autumn Elias, the chief massage therapist at Vita Wellness, possesses tiny, powerful fingers that melt even the toughest of knots -- and inside her peaceful studio, you'll hear relaxing music that all but lulls you into a waking dream. To get the most out of it, I recommend going after work as daylight turns into dusk, when your body is biologically releasing the pressures of the day, and surrendering to the soft descent of nightfall.