Best Day Spas in Chicago

Cold and cranky? We scoured the city for the top retreats to beat the winter blahs

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The Best of the Rest

These seven spas, listed in alphabetical order, may not be at the very top of our list (for reasons ranging from outdated décor to complicated menus). But their service, atmosphere, or amenities still put them above the pack.

For Product Junkies: Bliss Spa at W Chicago–Lakeshore

At Bliss Spa, you’re surrounded by hundreds of the New York–based chain’s cheery blue-and-white bottles, which vow—in writing—to deliver skin-clearing, hydrating, fat-blasting results. Add-ons, designed to deliver extra vitamins, enzymes, and other helpful ingredients, are available for most body treatments, massages, and facials (the spa also offers waxing, manicures, and pedicures), and you get the option to combine services in ways that deliver good value.

An example: The Head-To-Toe Glow ($195 for 90 minutes) merges Bliss’s signature facial, the Triple Oxygen (on its own, $160), with a detoxifying wrap that includes a rubdown in lemon-sage oil and an airtight swaddle in a full-body Mylar sheet. Inside it you’ll feel your sweat pooling during the facial’s parade of scrubs, serums, and creams. After, you may notice a new and genuine lightness as you head for the sauna, then to a steam shower, before admiring the (slightly worn) dressing room’s view of Lake Michigan and your own radiant skin. 644 N. Lake Shore Dr.;

Includes: Men’s services, express services


For A-listers: MySpa at Fairmont Chicago

When you enter MySpa—in the depths of the Fairmont—a circular scribble of its logo projected onto the walls leaves you wondering whether you’re entering a gaudy nightclub. Thankfully, the boutique that greets you with an array of exclusive products from companies such as the botanically based Red Flower calms any apprehension. Guests are led down a long and softly lit corridor to separate women’s and men’s lounges, where they are met with gleaming porcelain and iridescent aqua tiles. Even after four years, MySpa has not lost its sheen, which might help you forget that the changing area in front of the lockers is a little too exposed for comfort. The spa focuses mostly on massage—including a 50-minute foot rub and scrub—and facials.

Clients seeking to replicate Madonna’s age-defying glow flock here to snap up appointments for an Intraceuticals Rejuvenate Oxygen Infusion facial ($195 for 50 minutes), which, while leaving your face feeling baby soft (for about a day), won’t actually turn you into the Material Girl. 200 N. Columbus Dr.;

Includes: Men’s services, express services, gym


For Fans of Classic Glam: Red Door Spa

A massage at Red Door Spa
A massage at Red Door Spa

Elizabeth Arden’s national chain of spas (with locations in Chicago, Deerfield, and Northbrook) keeps alive the old-fashioned notion that a day of pampering should not exclude a tried-and-true beauty triumvirate: hair, nails, and makeup. The spa houses a full-service salon, where a haircut, blow dry, and finish starts at $80 and single-process coloring starts at $65. It also offers a lengthy menu of nail services, including full-set gel ($95) or acrylic ($85) manicures, and special-occasion makeup applications (from $90).

Which is not to say the sleek Gold Coast outpost falls behind its trendier body-and-soul-centered peers; on the spa side, separated from the salon in quiet quarters, guests can get facials, massages, or body treatments. The Olive-Oil Body Glow, an express service ($60 for 30 minutes), is a whole-body scrub-down with a moisturizing stew of Italian olive oil and coarse sea salts. You get a shower cap to keep your hair from becoming sullied, and upon exiting, you might be politely asked if you’d like a quick touchup of your makeup before you go. 919 N. Michigan Ave.;

Includes: Men’s services, express services


For Massage Addicts: Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

It begins in the spa’s richly upholstered lounge. A woman comes in and leads you to a soundproof room lit in low amber light. You crawl onto a womb-temperature massage table that resembles a plush bed. You breathe deeply to inhale eucalyptus-scented aromatherapy oil, and within the first 15 minutes of your deep-tissue massage ($200 for 80 minutes), the tension in your back begins to evaporate under the therapist’s strong, circular kneading. You lose track of time, and then it’s over. (Already?) You consider paying the extra $30 to take a dip in the hotel’s Romanesque pool (the fee includes access to the gym), but you’re too relaxed to swim. Instead, you pad, dazed, into the impeccably clean dressing and shower rooms and come back to consciousness in the spacious sauna.

You can see that certain aspects of the spa’s décor and the steam room’s sanitarium vibe could use an update. But you’ve just gotten one of the most uncannily spot-on, thoroughly tissue-smoothing massages you’ve ever had, and it doesn’t seem to matter. 120 E. Delaware Pl.;

Includes: Men’s services, express services, gym, pool


For Those Who Think Bigger Is Better: The Spa at Trump

If the ideal day spa offers four things— great treatments, comprehensive facilities, a get-away-from-it-all atmosphere, and a reasonable bill—Trump delivers two and a half. The treatments are top-notch: The spa is the only one in the Chicago area to use Kate Somerville products—justifiably beloved by stars—and our facialist had been well trained. (We had the 90-minute Ultimate Kate, which pumps oxygen into the pores to “plump the skin.”) The pool is large by spa standards, and the workout room seems to go on for miles.

But in the shower, we were greeted by a puddle of water (improper tiling?), a broken metal corner bracket (although the place was built in 2008), and a dollop of lotion on the floor. To get to the relaxation room, you must march past hotel elevators in your robe. And at the end, the damage, with tax and tip (they add a “standard” 20 percent), is $420. In this economy? Donald, we salute you: Charging that much takes real chutzpah. 401 N. Wabash Ave.;

Includes: Men’s services, express services, gym, pool


For Spa Newbies: Spa@theWit

Among Chicago’s hotel spas, the contemporary yet serene Spa@theWit is petite (showers for private use are in each of the warmly lit treatment rooms, but the locker room, inconveniently, houses only one). The effect, though, is cozy: You’ll feel like you’re visiting the home of a friend when, as soon as you enter, you’re welcomed with an offer of warm tea. The relaxation room is as peaceful as its name, Whisper Lounge, would suggest.

The spa’s signature massage ($125 for 50 minutes) merges aromatherapy and hot-stone techniques with light bodywork, and therapists are attentive to any injuries, aches, or pains. (Overall, the service is a good introduction for newbies but not recommended for deep-tissue die-hards.) One of the spa’s greatest assets is its location: The nail salon is only four stories above State and Lake, one of the hotel’s restaurants, which will send up any of its meals or cocktails—perfect to sip during a Butter London manicure (from $30) or pedicure (from $40). The room also offers floor-to-ceiling views of one of the Loop’s most lively intersections. 201 N. State St.;

Includes: Men’s services, express services


For Experienced Spagoers: Valeo

The spa service menu (or lack thereof) at Valeo, which opened last year in the Loop’s JW Marriott, is not an easy concept. In fact, booking an appointment requires a consultation, and the only price quoted is by time: $25 for a ten-minute block of any treatment. But each one—whether it’s a massage, a facial, or the spa’s hallmark Turkish Bath hydrotherapy and exfoliation session ($100 for 40 minutes)—is customized to a guest’s “unique needs and goals.” This could be a bonus, especially if you already know what you want.

In terms of size and sheer scope of facilities, it’s hard to do better than Valeo. All ten of its “clarity chambers” (treatment rooms) are outfitted with a heated marble-topped table. And in the rest of the spa’s colossal 20,000 square feet, you can hop between the newly opened pool or the TV-equipped relaxation rooms, steam rooms, and infared saunas—all free of charge with most services. Is there a better excuse to stretch out a day at the spa for as long as possible? 151 W. Adams St.;

Includes: Men’s services, express services, gym, pool


Photograph: Courtesy of Red Door Spa



2 years ago
Posted by SpaConsultant

What surprises me is the proffering of these spas, albeit good choices all, as "day spas." It would be difficult for ANY genuine day spa to compete with a spa resort in terms of amenities, scope, scale, and the like. This list is profiling the best spas in hotels and resorts, and fortunately they happen to permit day guests. Now, we'd love to see a list of the best Day Spas as defined by the spa industry -- spas which have no association with an Inn, Hotel, or Resort property.

2 years ago
Posted by itsmyopinion!

what affiliation does allyu have to a hotel or resport? none. it's (or was) the best kept (day spa) secret in chicago!!!

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