For the typically sarcastic natives of our nation’s Northeast, being high strung is often seen as a sign of good cardiovascular health. Folks out west, on the other hand (especially those in Southern California), have a rep for being a little more laid back. Still, any L.A. woman will tell you about the impurities of city air, and how that same poison smog can wreak havoc on your skin. Not to mention the earthquakes, the traffic jams (have we mentioned how bad it gets on the 405 and the 101?), and if you’re a D-girl in Hollywood … oy gevalt, talk about some nerve-shredding servitude. Are you the type who has to endure all that? If so, you don’t want just Calgon to take you away; you need an entire crew of masseuses. So if your aim is to truly unwind and relax, de-stress and detox (and no, not in the Winehouse sense of the word), this assortment of L.A.-based spas will have you uttering soothing mantras and resetting your chakra in no time. But a fair word of warning to all you women of independent means: some of these places are pretty pricey, so be prepared to loosen those purse strings along with your limbs. – Kevin Byrne


Kinara Café

656 N. Robertson Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA. 90069
(310) 657-9188
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Given its rather ironic namesake (the word ‘kinara’ is Hindi for “on the edge”), this Tinseltown-based spa has earned a wide-hailed rep for being a glossy, low-key, sun-dappled den of tranquility. Helmed by renowned Yugoslavian skin care guru Olga Lorencin-Northrup, this urban oasis offers discerning patrons everything from wraps, rubs and body waxing to firm-fingered shiatsu and soothing scalp massages. Above all, it provides privacy on the shower and steam room front to those who would rather steer clear of communal saunas and whirlpools. And if you’re seeking complexion perfection, Kinara is quite well known as a “go-to” place for famous females aiming for a great glow on the facial front, including Christina Applegate and Halle Berry. Gift certificates and custom packages are readily available through the Kinara website for both singles and couples, among them the “Summer Daydream” which gives buyers three-hours of high-end bliss, including a salt scrub, Swedish massage, foot rub, facial, pedicure and manicure. If you don’t go home on a cloud after that, there’s no hope for you.


Le Petite Retreat Day Spa

331 N. Larchmont Blvd.,
Los Angeles, CA 90004
(323) 466-1028
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One of the most acclaimed and soothing day spas in L.A. (write-ups vouching such have appeared in Elle, Cosmopolitan, Vogue and Lucky), Le Petite is just what it seems to be: a tiny, quiet and well-kept secret in the heart of Larchmont Village that is, remarkably, popular with some of Hollywood’s most high profile yet private faces, including Angelina Jolie, Will Ferrell, Gwen Stefani and Johnny Depp. A soothing low-key restoration haven specializing in everything from combined warm stone deep-tissue massage (very Zen), cleansing salt and herb wraps, to hydrotherapy and body waxing, Le Petite also has a variety of lush spa packages available for those who really want to splurge on the comfort front. And yes, gentlemen, this spot allows for same-room couple’s treatments, if you’d like to join in your loved one’s relaxation. Prices range from $60 and up.


Willow Spa

3127 Santa Monica Blvd (Berkeley Street)
Santa Monica, CA. 90404
(323) 302-4857
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Take one step inside this wonderfully out-of-place tropical paradise, and you may feel like you stepped backwards in time and onto the set of Memoirs of A Geisha, and with good reason. From its Japanese enzyme baths to its exotic floral displays to its cut-stone walks, Willow Spa is a holistic haven ideally suited to anyone who’s looking for a lush and laid-back escape from the frantic L.A. pace. Among the services offered include a variety of deep tissue massage, fresh fruit skin care, and enzyme baths. As for those of you “hard to convince” types, just go there and enjoy a complimentary citrus flower foot soak and foot massage. You may just be sold into the idea of staying longer.


Brooks Massage Therapy

7619 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA. 90036
(323) 937-8781
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For those of you low-maintenance, non-luxury seekers looking to release a little negative energy and just loosen up the kinks, your best bet is Brooks Massage, whose back-to-basics storefront belies a humble and courteous rubdown team famous for waiting on their patrons hand and foot, in every wonderful sense of the expression. A variety of massage techniques are available (Swedish, reflexology are among them), sessions are booked by the hour or the half-hour and, thanks to the lack of high-end bells and whistles, very affordable. There’s also a lovely sauna / steam room where you can relax in the essence of eucalyptus and, oh yes, rumor has it they serve CHOCOLATE (though likely not in the steam room). The only downside is dealing with parking, which is confined to the street and hence, can be a pain in the neck. The upside: going face down on one of their comfortable tables after you pull a tight parallel job out of L.A. traffic can only be of benefit to that same neck. The massage team will also do off-site calls (home, hotel room, etc), and group rates are available.


Thibiant Beverly Hills Day Spa

449 N. Canon Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 278-7565
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As the saying on the L.A. spa scene goes: “Everybody who’s anybody knows all about Aida.” And if that isn’t enough (or you’re from out of town), all you have to do is get a gander at Aida Thibiant’s long-standing and diverse roster of loyal and lovely clientele (Ali McGraw, Hayden Panettiere among them), and you’ll soon see why this now-retired Beverly Hills legend earned her rep as “the Face Saver to the Stars.” Now run by the renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Harry Glassman, the spa itself still provides an assortment of massages, skin treatments, wraps and nail care options originally offered by Aida, and customized for anyone looking to unwind and freshen up after a rough day or week. As for those of you interested in Botox, peels, laser hair removal, or other high-tech anti-aging methods, Dr. Glassman & Co. are available for consults. An assortment of emollients and moisturizers created by Aida are also available for purchase on site or online.


We Care Spa

18000 Long Canyon Rd.
Desert Hot Springs, CA 92241
(760) 251-2261
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Though the usual roster rounds out at five, we’d be remiss not to include one last entry. Why? Because, like the name of the spa itself: we care. The other reason for this exception is because it is NOT based in Los Angeles but well beyond its frenetic orbit, and rightfully so. A classic and quiet full-body detox haven located in the heart of Desert Hot Springs, We Care’s high-paying patrons (celebs like Matt Damon, Liv Tyler and Gisele Bündchen are said to be among their clientele) can do yoga, swim, get a massage or meditate, and/or willingly partake of round-the-clock feasts of organic vegetable juice and fruits, the ultimate purpose of the latter being to help the body purge itself of toxins. Daily colonics are encouraged, though not required, and many say weight loss (though not necessarily a goal) is guaranteed. A very popular and plush place for folks looking to get away from the urban grind, it’s also extremely expensive. Check their website for rates.