"Spa" is an acronym for the Latin phrase "solus par aqua," which means "health through water." So it only makes sense that, in a city surrounded by water, there would be a slew of places at which to achieve that goal.
San Franciscans have a long tradition of knowing how to pamper themselves, from frolicking at yesteryear's Sutro Baths to getting rubbed and polished at modern hotel and day spas that specialize in bringing their clients closer to relaxation and health.
Considering treating yourself to a treatment in San Francisco? Here's where to go:
1. Spa Radiance. Owned by a friendly, knowledgeable mother-daughter team, this welcoming Cow Hollow establishment, within upscale but homey environs, entrusts its capable -- and truly gracious -- therapists and estheticians to administer heavenly treatments like the Around the World Escape, which includes an organic manicure and pedicure, the Aromas of the World body treatment, and a green tea facial. Other specialties include the Gold Mineral Wrap, medi-peels and men's treatments. Beauties like Christy Turlington, Ashley Judd,and Michelle Pfeiffer have been spotted here. www.sparadiance.com.
2. Nob Hill Spa,in the upscale Huntington Hotel, occupies an airy, feng shui-compliant space with floor-to-ceiling windows and an indoor pool. A signature choice from the Euro-Asian treatment menu is the 80-minute Bindi Herbal Body Treatment, an Ayurvedic method by which to nourish skin and reduce anxiety. You can also opt to incorporate guided imagery, wherein spoken words (on a CD that plays during your treatment) help you use your thoughts to stimulate bodily changes. Additionally, guests have unlimited access to a gym and yoga and Pilates classes. www.huntingtonhotel.com
3. Bliss, in SOMA's W Hotel, incorporates fun and a bit of humor into its relaxation rituals, which include movie-while-you-manicures, R&B music and a brownie buffet. Treatment names, like the High Herbie (a facial) and the Quadruple Thighpass (anti-cellulite), are slightly irreverent, but you'll leave feeling downright worshipful of your therapist. www.blissworld.com
4. Spa Vitale. Proving that good things come in small packages, Hotel Vitale's penthouse-level spa takes up just three treatment rooms. But the masseuses are beyond excellent, and the signature rooftop bathing ritual, followed by a bespoke massage, is a divine experience. The stellar Embarcadero location doesn't hurt, either. www.hotelvitale.com
5. The Spa at the Sports Club/LA San Francisco, in the Four Seasons Hotel on Market Street, offers scientifically advanced treatments alongside ancient healing rituals. Facials, which use medical-grade skin products, can be holistic or clinical, while body treatments are tailored to guests' specific needs. Packages include the Total Relaxation Program, a four-hour pampering experience, and Zen for Men. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are also available. www.thesportsclubla.com
6. Kabuki Springs & Spa, in Japantown, is an Asia-themed spa with Zen-inspired decor and treatments that originated on that eastern continent, including Thai massage, shiatsu, acupuncture, reiki, and the 80-minute Herbal Renewal, during which a heated poultice, organic oils, acupressure, and massage converge wonderfully to relieve muscle and joint soreness. Arrive early to experience the communal baths. www.kabukisprings.com
7. Remède Spa at SOMA's high-end St. Regis, caters to its wealthy clientele by providing champagne, truffles, and luxurious linens -- plus treatments customized to each individual. Facialists select a treatment course based on your skin, incorporating the latest technologies with high-performing Laboratoire RemÃ¨de products. Masseuses use a variety of methods, including Swedish and reflexology, so that you get exactly what you want. www.stregis.com/sanfrancisco
8. Tru, in the new Hilton San Francisco Financial District, is a modern spa focusing on treatments' efficacy. The Tru02 facial became San Francisco's first to incorporate oxygen -- and based on customer response, many other spas have followed. Other signature treatments include the TruTherapy75 massage (75 indulgent minutes) and the Jungle Love body treatment, which happens in the fun, thematic Tropical Rainforest Room with steam, "rain," a 100-gallon-a-minute waterfall, and an infinity soaking tub.Â Hint: Sign up for the spa's email list a month before you visit to get the monthly discount. www.truspa.com
9. One medspa worth mentioning is the highly rated Tenaya, which is in Cow Hollow but named after a pristine lake near Yosemite. The experts there offer excellent skin-rejuvenation treatments including Titan, IPL photo-rejuvenation, and the effective GentleYag laser hair removal; all procedures use only the latest technology. Tenaya also contributes a portion of its proceeds to charity and treats disadvantaged people with scars or damaged skin. Hint: Get 20% off by mentioning this article. www.tenayamedspa.com