New York City might be a feast for the senses, but for the lower back, it’s a bit of a nightmare. Such was the case for me anyway, after a recent work trip to the electric city saw me clocking upwards of 20 km a day on foot. Factor in multiple meetings, a balmy September climate and boots that were not made for walking, and my body was aching.
The remedy was an afternoon spent at Shibui Spa, otherwise known as heaven on Earth. Built in the lower levels of the Greenwich Hotel in Tribeca (and owned by Robert DeNiro), it’s a warm, dimly-lit space, and a reported favourite of wellness monarch Gwyneth Paltrow (if you know, you know). The name Shibui is the perfect manifestation of all that it is: luxurious, uncomplicated, and still. It’s not trying too hard, but rather perfectly grounded in serenity. I was booked in for an hour long Omakase massage: a treatment designed to de-stress, unblock stagnant energy, and release tightly bound muscles. I was in for c: all of the above. I changed into a chic Japanese robe, scraped my hair back, and turned my phone on flight mode. Ready.
The spa itself opens up to an incredibly tranquil swimming pool by which you can sip matcha green tea and nibble on dried fruit and nuts beforehand. It’s reposeful and warm – the perfect cure for chaos and too much screen time. My advice would be to arrive early armed with your swimsuit or a book, and spend an hour doing slow, meditative laps or reading lazily. Once I had slipped into a state of zen, my therapist escorted me to the treatment room (immaculate, warm, minimal) where we quickly touched on my sore spots (everywhere) and got started.
The treatment itself is a mix of long, languid strokes and a firm hand on tight muscles around my neck, shoulders, and upper back. It’s intuitive; my therapist knew where needed a little extra manipulation. It’s the kind of pain that almost blissful; like I can physically feel knots unfurling. Coupled with organic oils, it’s bliss.
I step out an inch taller and with shoulders a few centimetres lower (not kidding – the results are visible). But the fun’s not over. I make time for one more herbal tea, a quick steam, shower, and step out into the world shiny and new again… if only for a few hours, anyway.