Everyone could use a little "me" time. Toronto has some sweet places to splurge on that "me" time, and I do mean splurge.
Recently, I tested out three luxury spas and their signature services to see if the following outcomes would occur:
- Did I look 5-10 years younger post spa-ing
- Was I able to fadeout the stresses of life for a few hours or did I continue to grow my mental to do list.
Elmwood Spa made the list because they've been in the game for 30 years, so they hold the experience card. Hamman Spa is based on Turkish bath facilities, this spa brings the unique card, and The Four Seasons Spa carries the 5 star hotel experience card.
And no one ever talks about spa lunches, so I sampled those as well.
Located five minutes from Yonge and Dundas Square, this spa lives inside of a historical building.
Elmwood has water therapies located inside the women's change room, so I hung out there for a solid thirty-ish minutes, keeping busy by doing two rounds in the whirlpool and steam room, with a cold shower in between.
LI'TYA Binhumarri Body Ritual
The RMT took the full 15 minutes to explain that Elmwood is the only spa in Canada that is supplied with sensory therapy products from Australia. He told me that a shaman was brought into the spa to teach the masseuses how to use the products.
The RMT first cleansed the room with incense. Then I received a full body exfoliation using desert salts and essential oils. I was curious to know how much dead skin was jumping off my body. The RMT says "none." I'm not sure if that meant that there was such a buildup of dead skin clogged deep under my skin that he couldn't get to it, or maybe I'm not as dirty as I thought.
The RMT then ran me a perfectly temperatured shower to get rid of any access salt before moving on the oil massage up next. The massage was good, not memorable. However, the products used were fantastic. The oil was so rich yet when rubbed into my skin it felt light and smelled sweet and earthy.
The last part of the experience involved a hair and scalp treatment. A good scalp massage is right up there with indulging in a rich plate of mac and cheese with a drizzle of truffle oil. This scalp massage lacked the truffle oil.
The treatment stayed in my hair while I enjoyed a three-course gourmet spa lunch on the terrace, in my robe and slippers.
Appetizer: Whipped Ricotta and Arugula Salad w/ candied pumpkin seeds, pickled chili and a burnt walnut pesto -- so lovely.
Main: Chicken Supreme Maple Glazed Carrot and Quinoa Salad, Roasted Garlic, Scallions and Lemon Jus. The whole dish was swimming in an unseasoned lemon bath.
Dessert: Cured and Compressed Fruit Maple Candy and Herbs. Chef Jordan Carr redeemed himself with this one.
Price: $240 • 90 minutes
What stuck from the experience: The Australian products, the terrace, the appetizer and dessert, not so much the actual massage.
Located on King West, I was surprised to learn how big the spa space really is, 8,000 sq ft to be exact, and it is beautifully designed. It felt like I was at a speakeasy spa if that ever existed.
After surrendering all my belonging to the locker, I hit up the 500 sq ft co-ed steam room. I was fixated on the colour changing light bulbs at first. Then, I imagined as the steam would part Lenny Kravitz or Michael Ealy, or a combination of the two would be sitting across me and well...my imagination drifted. Just kidding, this ain't no Danielle Steel's novel!
After a few back and forth trips from the steam room to a cold shower, I sipped on a fruit tea in the waiting room, which was furnished with fruit juices, dried fruits, nuts, so many pillows and magazines. Nice touch Hammam.
Appetizer: Quinoa Salad w/ Edamame and Corn
Main: Smoked Ham & Brie w/ Green Apples on French bread
Beverage: Lemon Iced Tea
The portion size was so big that I couldn't finish it and that rarely happens in life. It was a fitting spa lunch.
The Rhassoul Clay Wrap
The room was candle lit and lovely. In the middle stood a giant custom heated marble slab. I felt like royalty.
Side note: you're pretty naked, so doing some lady/man maintenance beforehand is never a bad thing.
My RMT started off with a full body exfoliation using a Kessa Mitt which the spa imports from Turkey and Moroccan Black Soap. If felt so good. After that came a nice hot shower which was prepared by the RMT.
Now that my pores were open and venerable, they were ready to absorb nutrients from the clay wrap that comes from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, rich in magnesium, silica, potassium and calcium. For about 15-20 minutes I was encrusted in the clay. At first my body felt itchy, once the itchiness went away I was in relax mode.
After another shower that washed away the mud stuck in the crevices of my body, my skin felt like butter.
To conclude the service, I was lathered up Aloe & Vanilla Cream oil that smelled like creamsicles.
Price: $130 • 60 minutes
What stuck from the experience: The heated marble table, the whole Rhassoul Clay Wrap experience and my RMT. Shoutouts to RMT Leah for making me feel so comfortable while being so exposed!
Located in Yorkville, everything about this experienced felt 5 star.
This spa doled out the most luxurious robe in comparison. The women's change room included a lounge furnished an array of teas, biscotti and apples. Along with a steam room and curvy "S" shaped lounge beds, perfect for taking a catnap. You have no reason to leave this massive change room, if you're a women.
'WE ARE YORKVILLE' TREATMENT'
First of all, the size the room was triple the size of my bachelor apartment. It came with its own private shower, bathroom and a giant oval tub. I couldn't believe the whole room was for four-foot nothing me.
It's all in the details; the sheets on the massage table weren't just egyptian cotton, they were much more luxurious.
Four Seasons starts off all of their full body spa services with a footbath, followed by a full body dry brushing, which feels like a relaxing back scratch, but everywhere.
My very experienced spa therapist explained everything that would be happening to me in the beginning, so I could spend the next three hours doing nothing but relaxing.
The Hemp Seed Scrub was followed by a Warmed Honey Wrap. While I was wrapped like a burrito absorbing all the nutrients, my spa therapist gave me a very memorable scalp massage for the entire time I was wrapped up. These are the details that count, there was no time wasted. After bath number two came the Patchouli-Scented Hemp Oil massage. My spa therapist ended this delicious experience with yet another glorious scalp massage. This time I could taste the truffle oil.
Shoutouts to my very amazing and experienced spa therapist, Raquel!
No lunch here, but it didn't matter at the time. Thinking back, lunch by The Four Seasons would have been better than a cherry on top.
Price: $495 • 3.25 hrs
What stuck from the experience: Everything!
All three spa's ambience fit their locations. The Elmwood experience works with the downtown vibe, Hamman suits the King West crowd, and The Four Seasons felt very Yorkville from the second I walked in to the second I left.
I left all three spas with sparkling skin and more importantly, with a to-do list that was put on hold for those few hours of "me" time.
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