During the summer of 1970, Moscow State University math student Mikhail Brodsky traveled to the Konda River in Western Siberia to log trees. While there, he visited his first banya?a public Russian bathhouse?and tried Siberian steam bathing. He became enamored of the practice, but didn't get to experience it again until visiting another Siberian town four years later. He soon started traveling throughout the world to study all the baths and hot springs he could find, earning the nickname Archimedes?for the ancient Greek mathematician?due to his habit of helping bathhouse staff members solve problems.
After moving to California, Mikhail decided to open his own bathhouse. Though design and construction took 12 years, he and a group of international friends finally opened Archimedes Banya SF, a coed public bathhouse that blends the aesthetics and traditions of Greek, Turkish, German, and Russian bathhouses with modern amenities. Spa staffers usher guests into steamy hardwood saunas and cold swimming pools on four themed floors, each decked out in warm cream-colored tiles or cool blue and silver accents. Deck chairs populate the rooftop patio, where visitors take in views of the bay and excise any remaining stress by screaming at boats. In private spa rooms, therapists knead guests' muscles during Russian platza massages and soak them in natural herb and mineral baths. The bathhouse is open until midnight while the bar and dining area stays open as late as 11:30 pm.
Paule-Dominique Anneheim, a certified massage therapist and owner of Voil? La Familia, eases muscle pain with techniques customized to the needs of men, women, and infants. Since she was 17 years old and living in Marseille, Paule-Dominique has been working with both healthy and disabled youngsters. She went on to become a children?s massage instructor and expert on wooden-block ergonomics before moving to Tahiti to help open a clinic. The experienced massage therapist now brings gentle kneads and Swedish massage techniques to bear against tension and pain in private rooms speckled with colorful orchids. Oil infused with vitamin E steeps skin in moisture and prevents stretch marks, and the therapist's expertise in pediatric, prenatal, and postpartum massage allows her to soothe mothers stressed by pregnancy and little ones stressed by investigations into what the cow says.
From pink martini sparkle mani-pedis to signature facials, Quince Spa offers exotic treatments in an equally exotic atmosphere. This dimly lit spa exudes tranquility, offering clients a haven to plop down on a cozy massage table for a hot stone massage or let their feet soak in wooden foot baths while they sip complimentary beverages and recline in leather chairs that are partitioned off by Shoji screens. Using products from OPI, Havainas, and Essie, Nail technicians perform ginger tea bamboo sugar mani-pedis, as well as Japanese Yuzu citrus callous removal pedicures and gentlemen’s manicures. Massage therapists, meanwhile, harmonize the mind and body with massages and foot reflexology treatments. The staff also offers eyebrow tinting and facials, helping clients look younger while undoing damage caused by UV rays that whisper insults into pores as they penetrate skin.
At Zazen, students relax their bodies and focus their minds during sessions of Zen Buddhist seated meditation, the soothing practice for which the center is named. But both Zazen locations work to cultivate calm with other services as well. Sensory-deprivation tanks block out distracting external stimuli as guests float in 10 inches of warm saltwater, a practice many say helps them grow their awareness of the present moment. Massage sessions focus on freeing the body from tension, so it can be experienced as spaciousness rather than constraint. Yoga classes also help guests become mindful, filling hearts and limbs with enough calm energy to quiet a bawling infant with a single, whispered "shhh."
Tucked away beneath the carved wooden eaves of a Victorian-style house, San Francisco Face and Body aims to provide a haven from everyday worries and cares. The friendly staff concentrates laser-like focus on customer service, customizing aromatherapy scents, massage techniques, and mask ingredients to each client’s skincare needs. Aestheticians smooth hirsute areas with numbing natural analgesics and imported French waxes designed to grip hair, not skin, easing the pain of separation without the need for regular Skype dates with estranged former moustaches.
Within a 17th-floor penthouse, Spa J'Adore's wide windows allow rays of sunlight to illuminate Buddha photos, exposed-brick walls, and brilliant orchids. Their décor, a combination of urban chic and zen sensibilities, reflects the massage practice's dual focus on Western and Eastern traditions. To that end, massage therapists are equally adept at deep-tissue and Swedish treatments as modalities from Thailand and Japan. The staff also paints on tans with brushes instead of sprays during body-bronzing sessions, which create a smoother, more natural appearance. After their treatments, clients can lounge on the spa's balcony, sipping herbal tea from heavy clay cups and relaying semaphore messages to hikers on distant mountains.