Hidden away in The Greenwich Hotel in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood, the much-lauded Shibui spa is finally opening its doors to the public after four years of serving only hotel guests and the very occasional lucky neighbor.
A short elevator ride from the lobby and you’re greeted with the subtle smell of incense, just enough to remind you: “Relax, you’re no longer dodging traffic in Manhattan.” In fact, it’s easy to feel as though you’ve stumbled into a time warp deep in the Japanese Alps (even the structure around the pool is a rebuilt 250-year-old Japanese wood and bamboo farmhouse), a place where the locals happen to give fantastic massages.
Shibui, fittingly, means something along the lines of “low key, grounded beauty,” in Japanese. The space is immaculate without being clinical, and is surprisingly intimate with only four treatment rooms accessible through antique wooden sliding doors. The bathing room is particularly wonderful-staring out from the candlelit ofuro soaking tub over a woven grass screen into what looks like your own private tatami hut is quite transporting.
All treatments use plant-based, often organic products and have a traditional bent-from Shiatsu performed on tatami floor to the Bamboo Glow, which includes a bamboo and gingergrass scrub, hinoki mineral bath, and 60-minute massage. But of particular note is the traditional Chinese reflexology. Ask for Yasue an incredible masseuse who not only expertly traced every meridian and pressure point but also kindly explained which body parts corresponded to the tender spots my feet.