You'll find the cheapest treatments at no-frills neighborhood Asian spas. While some may be good, I've heard first-hand accounts from people who regretted bargain-hunting after an untrained therapist worked on them. I wouldn't go without a personal recommendation. Asia Tui Na Wholeness ($60 for 60-minutes) has a good reputation.
I love Euphoria Spa because I trust the estheticians ($100 for a 50-minute facial with lots of add-ons like IPL and I had a great massage there ($120 for 60-minutes). The best spas have happy therapists that have been there a long time.
NYC's luxury hotel spas offer glamour, luxurious amenities and excellent service at a price, so get there early and enjoy the atmosphere and amenities. The Spa at Mandarin Oriental holds the high ground with an 80-min. massage priced at $320 on weekends (plus 24.5% service fees and tax). The Peninsula Spa is a relative bargain at $195 for a 60-minute massage. You can also check out Guerlain Spa at the Waldorf=Astoria and Caudalie Spa at The Plaza, priced at $195 for a 50-minute massage.
Here are my picks for some of the the best day spas in NYC by neighborhood.
Best NYC Spas - Upper West Side, 60th and Up
The Spa at Mandarin Oriental is considered the city's greatest luxury hotel spa, and it's priced for the people who don't have to worry about money -- Wall Street types and their wives. Time Warner Building, 80 Columbus Circle at 60th Street, 35th floor. Tel. 866-801 8880. Go on a video tour of The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, NYC.
Best NYC Spas - Upper East Side
Cornelia Spa at The Surrey gets high marks for its enchanting atmosphere and excellent therapists. Customized treatments are the specialty here. 20 East 76th Street between Madison and Fifth Ave. 646-358-3600
Exhale Upper East Side is one of four Exhale spas in New York City that combine excellent spa treatments, healing modalities like acupuncture, and exercise classes like Core Fusion, which gives the locker room a sweaty, athletic vibe. 980 Madison Avenue between 76th-77th. 212-249-3000.
Best NYC Spas - Mid-town - 34th to 59th
The Peninsula Spa is a luxury hotel spa with 12 treatment rooms, a sun-lit movement studio, fitness center and a glass-enclosed pool featuring panoramic city views. Go on a video tour of The Peninsula Spa in NYC. 212-903-3910.
The Guerlain Spa at the Waldorf=Astoria is a piece of heaven. It's high above the city, on the 19th floor of the legendary Art Deco hotel, with all-white spa suites and crystal chandeliers. And it's whisper quiet, like being on your own private cloud. 301 Park Avenue, between 49th and 50th Streets, 212-872-7200.
Exhale Midtown on Central Park's southern end is a 12,000 foot oasis with 12 treatment rooms and two 1,200 foot studios, and a chic nail bar. I had a great facial here. 150 Central Park South between 6th and 7th Ave. 212-249-3000.
Townhouse Spa is a three-story spa that caters to a corporate clientele, down to the leather banquettes and one all-male floor with a barber station. SpaOceana is a giant hydro-capsule that sprays you with steam and oils. 9 W. 56th St., between 5th and. 6th Ave., 212-245-8006.
Dorit Baxter Spa has been in Midtown for 30+ years, and has affordable. The therapists are experienced and have been with Dorit a long time. There is a nice view overlooking 57th St., but the treatment rooms are bare bones. 47 W 57th St. between 5th and 6th Ave, third floor. 212-371-4542.
Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa is the original day spa -- founder Elizabeth Arden was a yoga devotee even in the 1920s)! It has a rich history, a commitment to solid professionalism and depth of services (including hair) that no one else matches. 691 Fifth Avenue at 54th St. 212-546-0200.
Bliss is a major spa brand now, with locations in major cities all over the world. New York City day spa locations in midtown include Bliss 57at 12 W. 57th St. (between 5th and 6th) and Bliss 49 in the W. Hotel at 541 Lexington Avenue and 49th St. 877-862-5477 for all locations.
Red Door Spa at The Chatwal is a small three-room spa in an 83-room boutique luxury hotel with a historic location. This is the only place you can get a facial from the legendary esthetician Cornelia Zicu. The two-hour facial by Cornelia and her costs $1,000, and is by special appointment only. 130 West 44th street between Ave. of the Americas and Broadway. 212-764-5900.
Best NYC Spas, 14th to 34th St.
Ohm Spa is a serene spa that allows its massage therapists to customize a treatment and express their own individual style. It's a true gem, but it's not a place to hang. 260 5th Ave, 7th Flr, between 28th & 29th Streets. 212-481-7892.
Juvenex is a high-end Korean spa with a Jade Igloo sauna, mugwort steam room and the best Korean body scrubs in the city. It is clothing optional for women only from 7 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Men and women are allowed from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m., with bathing suits. 25 West 32nd St., 5th floor, 646-733-1330.
Oasis Day Spa is known for its customer service and expert therapists. Its biggest location is at 1 Park Ave. at 33rd, 212-254-7722; there another Oasis at The Affinia Dumont Hotel at 34th and Lexington.
Exhale Gramercy in the Gansevoort Park Avenue Hotel is small and offers quality services, but could use co-ed locker rooms! 420 Park Avenue South, 646-380-5330.
Best NYC Spas, Houston to 14th St.
Silk Day Spa feels like a luxury Asian hotel, and gives you a questionnaire to find out details like your personal preference for music and whether you like your therapist to chat or be quiet. 47 West 13th Street, between 5th and Ave. of the Americas 212-255-6457
Great Jones Spa in downtown Manhattan, is known for it "wet lounge" with hot tubs, cold plunge pools and saunas, available to guests up to two hours prior to and one hour following spa treatments. 29 Great Jones St., 212-505-3185.
CLAY has a strong fitness component for members but also offers spa treatments for non-members. You have access to the sauna and cafe, but not the work-out room. 25 West 14th Street between 5th and Ave. of the Americas. 212-206-9200
Exhale Meatpacking is in the super-chic Gaansevoort Meatpacking hotel in Manhattan's lively Meatpacking District. Bummer alert: only hotel guests can enjoy the rooftop pool,the three treatment rooms are curtained off. I had a great massage, but could hear everything next door. 18 Ninth Avenue at 12th St. 212-660-6733 or 646-380-5330.
Best NYC Spas, Soho
Bunya CitiSPA is a New York City day spa with an Asian flavor, including hard-working Asian therapists who really give you your money's worth! Shiatsu and table Thai massage with hot herbal compresses are a specialty. 474 West Broadway, just south of Houston. 212- 388-1288
Haven is a neighborhood spa where you can get a range of treatments. Known for their waxing. 150 Mercer St. between Houston and Prince. 212-343-3515.
Bliss Soho is the original Bliss location started by Marcia Kilgore in the mid-90s. 568 Broadway, Second Fl., 877-862-5477.Best NYC Spas, Tribeca
Euphoria Spa is a small neighborhood spa with master estheticians and results-oriented skin care treatments like microderm, hydraderm and skin rejuvenation. 18 Harrison Street, New York, NY. 212-925-5925
Just a few doors away,Tribeca Beauty Spa is a larger spa with sauna, seven treatment rooms, and a complete range of services. 8 Harrison St. 212-343-2376