Brooklyn is a borough of many a wonderful thing: 19th-century brownstones; farm-to-table restaurants; No. 6 shearling clogs; and more artists, writers, and designers than investment bankers and tech bros. But upon hopping the river from Manhattan, one might be forgiven for thinking all the best places to get a massage, steam, or facial are back in the city. Brooklyn’s spas tend to be less flashy than their Manhattan counterparts, and perhaps lesser-known, but—it turns out—are no less stellar. As befits their borough, many of Brooklyn’s best spas trend toward the natural, organic, and holistic, with results-focused treatments that can help their clients avoid injectables, should they so choose. Whether you’re looking for a deep tissue massage, a sculpting facial, or a session on the acupuncture table, there’s no need to venture away from Brooklyn’s relative tranquility. Here, the best of the best the borough has to offer.
With her range of organic farms, clothing, restaurants, and spas, Lady Carole Bamford is the United Kingdom’s unofficial first lady of wellness. Her Bamford spas are renowned across Europe for their first-rate treatments and exacting attention to detail. Bamford’s first American outpost is on the ground floor of the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, behind a stunning pair of hand-carved doors. Ayurveda influences the treatment menu, which features everything from massage to facial to body treatments and waxing. The pale wood, beige linens, sheepskins, and dim lighting generate a soothing ambiance approximating heaven—or the womb—and the organic Bamford products used during the five-star treatments will have you feeling newborn indeed.
Shen Beauty is Brooklyn’s premier clean luxury beauty destination, located along a busy strip of Cobble Hill’s Court Street. Founder Jessica Richards is a former fashion stylist who opened Shen as a boutique in 2010 after sensing a market opportunity in Brooklyn for upscale and effective holistic beauty. Shen has since expanded to include a spa behind the boutique, where a range of expert practitioners work their magic with Shen’s range of products. Beyond the boutique, hydrafacials, microneedling, oxygen facials, waxing, microblading, and lip blushing are all on order. Clients considering a skincare buy can also request specific products be used in their treatments. Of particular note is the holistic lift and sculpt facial—one session with Pedro will have you swearing off injectables for good.
The focus at Brooklyn Herborium’s ethereal Windsor Terrace apothecary and spa is skin. All the products used during facials are made on the premises in their workshop, and are completely free of artificial ingredients like emulsifiers or preservatives. The formulations haven’t changed since 2006, since, as herbalist and cofounder Emma Graves says, “What works, works.” Indeed, every aesthetician at Brooklyn Herborium is also an herbalist, who can provide clients with custom recommendations based on simplicity, balance, and ease. Every treatment ends with a Body-Mind Alignment massage, which uses facial reflexology and lymphatic movement to relax the head and the heart while inducing clarity and energy. With its emphasis on using nature and herbs, Brooklyn Herbarium is a special space that is also uniquely Brooklyn.
Unique among New York City spas, the majority of cityWell’s treatments take place outside. A cedar sauna affords the opportunity for winter steams followed by massages in its cabins, whereas in the warmer months treatments can be had under the garden pergola. Stacking treatments is the way to go at cityWell—think a cabin massage, followed by a steam, followed by a soak, during which founder Liz Tortolani will happily bring you Prosecco and clementines. Accessibility is particularly important to Tortolani, and on community days the spa offers $45 acupuncture treatments and sauna sessions. CityWell also offers the opportunity to rent out its lovely space—designed by architect and interior designer Deborah Mariotti—for two or three hours, giving those looking to host unforgettably blissful parties a prime opportunity to steam, soak, and scrub their friends right in the heart of Brooklyn.
Williamsburg’s Treatment by Lanshin spa centers its treatments around the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Founder Sandra Lin is also an acupuncturist and an herbalist, who uses gua sha and acupuncture to address a range of concerns—lymphatic drainage and sculpting among them. Lin uses her range of TCM tools to sculpt the jawline and slim the neck, offering her clients the option to avoid Botox and fillers, should they so choose, with her non-invasive and all-natural treatments. Lanshin also offers Ortho-Bionomy work, a gentle and relaxing form of bodywork that can address years of chronic pain and misalignment.
In a cavernous building by the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Body by Brooklyn offers up a host of excellent massages and body treatments, along with a steam room, plunge pool, hot tub, and Russian and Swedish saunas. The massage therapists here work utter magic on overworked muscles, kneading out knots that have been around since the Trump administration, breaking up tight tissue, and doing it all with such gentleness and grace that you just might fall asleep on your treatment table. Top things off with a steam in a wet or dry sauna of your choice, and step back into the city feeling fresh and new.
The star of the show at the Yinova Center is acupuncture. Founder Jill Blakeway is also an acupuncturist and herbalist, with a particular expertise in fertility. But the Yinova Center treats a wide range of conditions with acupuncture, massage, structural integration, and Chinese medicine consultations, including those who are simply in search of a little relaxation and TLC. Even acupuncture skeptics stand to be converted by the Yinova Center’s expert practitioners—their treatments have been known to resolve longstanding insomnia, fatigue, and chronic pain. The beautiful Brooklyn Heights space is a sister to the Flatiron space in Manhattan, and many of the Center’s experts work at both locations, which makes seamless treatment easy no matter your schedule on any given day.
Photographed by Christian Atherton
Located in a converted factory in the middle of Williamsburg, Bathhouse manages to be at once timeless and modern. Antique textiles drape red-bricked walls, and intricate tilework in the saunas and pools echoes the ancient bath cultures across the world, from Turkey to Morocco. The services on offer include everything from massages to thermal therapy, set in marbled hammams and starlight steam rooms. And should you work up an appetite with all your sweating, swimming, and unwinding, Bathhouse also has a New American restaurant featuring sustainable wines and hyper-local cuisine.