We’ve already covered blind massages and Thai massages. Now, for the best money can buy we present — the hotel spa. There are an outstanding number of luxury hotel spas in Shanghai. We went to seven to see if they could soak the stress from our bodies.
Reputedly the best spa in town at the moment. We can attest that it's a close race, but we found several reasons to agree. The Auriga offers treatments tailored to the cycles of the moon: a new moon means invigorating renewal and introspection, a waxing moon nourishing and healing, a full moon requires balancing, and a waning moon cleansing and detoxification.
According to the spa, their masseuses are trained by a 90-year-old master of traditional Chinese massage who himself was trained in the school for imperial masseuses. If we worked that out correctly, that means you can touch the hands that touched the hands that touched the hands that may have touched an emperor. As marketing goes, that's not bad.
For the new moon there is a Swedish massage, 880rmb for 60 minutes. Also available is moxibustion, the burning of mugwort grass near the skin to increase the flow of qi and reduce bloating. The spa facial products are from Margy’s Monte Carlo.
The large spa facilities occupy one of the red brick villas on the Capella Hotel compound. There is a sauna and steam room, warmed vitality pool, and Himalayan salt room.
Auriga has seven spacious treatment rooms, including two double-bed rooms for couples. The rooms have a treatment bed, a changing room, and a shower and bathroom to rinse before a massage session.
Membership packages start at 20,000rmb which can be used toward spa treatments, and include Capella Hotel perks like 10 percent of Le Comptoir de Pierre Gagnaire, their fancy French restaurant, and two sessions on the Hypoxi workout machines and flotation tank.
On the fourth floor of the hotel, CHI is named for chi or qi the life force in Traditional Chinese Medicine. There are eight treatment rooms including two are double rooms, designed on the five elemental phases of Oriental philosophy: wood, fire, earth, metal and water.
The menu offers all of the essential treatments: a 60-minute signature CHI balancing massage for 880rmb, deep tissue sports massage, aromatherapy, foot massage, Chinese wellness, and neck and back massages. Facials include cleansing, energizing, refreshing, hydrating and gentlemen’s, along with a firming body wrap and body scrub.
A massage treatment starts by choosing a scent with closed eyes: ore, oolong, mandarin, or sun. This determine what kind of focus you need for the day. The spa uses products from Natura Bisse and Zanti body balm.
The membership cards start at 2,888rmb and get you 10 percent off spa treatments.
The entire Puli hotel feels like a spa, from the bamboo lined walk up to the front door and in the main lobby area with décor blending traditional Chinese and modern features, all designed by Indonesian starchitect Jaya Ibrahim. The actual spa on the third floor includes a reception desk, spa lounge and a hallway of five treatment rooms, three singles and two doubles, looking out onto the indoor pool. (The pool and gym are reserved for hotel guests only.)
The spa uses products from Italian Comfort Zone for body treatments and Swiss Valmont for facial products. Both can be purchased to take away.
There is an extensive eight-page menu of treatments, ranging from express 30-minute treatments to all-day rituals. They have seasonal packages such as their current fall offer: 60-minute aromatherapy massage, and 60-minute Valmont facial aimed at hydration, for 1,960rmb.
Your spa session starts by filling out a consultation card to address any troublesome areas and the type of skin you have. You also pick from four scents to use during the treatment.
Spa memberships can be purchased for six, 18, and 36 treatment bundles. The six 60-minute sessions package costs 6,688rmb.
AWAY Spa has a more white, clinical design and practice closer to a medical spa. The treatments are more results-oriented and use technology like Australian Intraceuticals’ high pressure oxygen facial machine and the Israeli Versa facial machine, in which radio frequencies help stimulate collagen. A 60-minute Versa session costs 1,280rmb.
The spa practitioners need to be certified to use the machines and had answers to all of our beauty questions with recommendations on water retention in legs, face care procedure, skin type diagnosis and remedies. It was like a fun visit to a dermatologist.
The neon lights and bold pattern of the W Hotel is also present in the eight treatment rooms, including four couple rooms, along with toned down pop beats.
They use products from Comfort Zone and Darphin, plus a nail and eyelash bar run by Tint.
Membership packages start at 3,888rmb for five 60-minute treatments, no added service charge.
AWAY provides make-up from Givenchy for clients to apply after a cleansing facial. If you are a spa guest, you can make a day of it and utilize the W’s indoor and outdoor pool, the gym, locker room, sauna and jacuzzi.
The basement level Retreat has a dark, Zen design that screams modernist cool. All conversations are conducted at a whisper here, and pathways are dimly lit by candles in Himalayan rock salt. The whole hotel, including the Retreat, was designed by Shanghai-based architecture firm Neri & Hu.
The spa takes up a large space with a special consultation area, and five treatment rooms, including two rooms for couples.
Treatments on the menu infuse techniques from all over Asia: a Nepalese tea exfoliation, Thai massage, and heated and cooled lava shell massage. There is traditional Chinese tui na, cupping, scraping, and a 14-meridian massage to get the qi flowing. The detox massage, 980rmb for 60 minutes, combines Chinese back massage, Malay abdomen massage, and Indian reflexology. And for the yogi, there is a singing bowl treatment. Each treatment starts with a foot bath.
The fitness areas are open to spa guests on the day of their visit, including a meditation room, gym, pool, steam and sauna.
Membership packages start at 12,800rmb for 15 hours of treatments over eight months.
On the basement floor, Mi Xun has a relaxed atmosphere with a more social energy. The spa uses two brands of Parisian spa products: Cha Ling, made of pu’er tea, and Gemology, made of ground up gemstone powder.
The Cha Ling facials and massages are adjusted depending on the time of day to promote the levels of Yin and Yang in the body, as well as incorporating other Chinese massage elements like gua sha (scraping) to promote detoxification.
In the Gemology line, different gemstones are heated and used to massage the body. A popular treatment is the Diamond Youth & Collagen Care facial for 2,680rmb with products from the diamond line containing trace amount of diamonds.
The massage therapists obtain a training certificate from the respective brands before using them. Each treatment starts with a foot bath.
The Mi Xun spa has six rooms, including two couples rooms, as well as a nail, lash and hair salon from Tint.
If treatments are booked in person, guests have access to the fitness facilities on the day of their treatment as well, including the sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, heated pool, gym and exercise studio.
Membership packages are yearlong at three price tiers starting at 10,000rmb with 20 percent off treatments or daily packages of five treatment sessions starting at 3,500rmb. The yearlong membership card is loaded with the fee amount, and members get other spa and fitness perks.
Opened in 2012 out in a quieter riverfront stretch, Banyan Tree Spa won a host of local media awards from 2015-2017. The Singaporean hotel trains their masseuses at the Banyan Academy in Phuket before working in Shanghai.
The spa is a sizable presence in the Banyan Tree hotel, spanning three floors in the lower levels. It’s a quiet atmosphere. They have 11 spacious treatment rooms, inlcuding six double-bed suites. Some rooms have special equipment, like a rain mist room used at the beginning of some treatments.
They have around 40 treatments, ranging from Thai massage at 880rmb for 60 minutes, facials, and hot stones. Products used in body and facial treatments are from the Banyan Tree’s own product line. The spa also collaborates with NaturaBisse from Barcelona for facial products.
Membership card tiers start at 10,000rmb, which gets you 30 percent off treatments. The Banyan Tree occasionally runs spa promotions for hotel guests, although guests to just the spa and members don't have access to the gym or pool facilities during their visits.