Chill Out: Enjoy the Coolest Self-Care Treatments in NYC

These Alternative Treatments to Looking and Feeling Better Are on the Cutting-Edge of Cool (Literally)

New York is an undeniably awesome place to spend the summer months. Who can argue with long, sunny days lounging in Central Park, breezy nights sipping cocktails at rooftop bars and weekends brimming with alfresco concerts and events? Chilling out takes on a meaning of its own, though, when it comes to 21st-century beautifying treatments. From frozen saunas and subzero body chambers to chilly massages and anti-aging facials that practically freeze time, here are the spa experiences that will soothe, beautify and refresh you this summer.

The soaring temperatures outside make cold versions of standard treatments the hottest thing on the spa scene right now. To get in on the trend, look to Haven Spa. The Greenwich Village spa (with the coolest twinkle-lit lounging area) uses cold packs in target areas of the body in its 90-minute Tourist Massage, along with a heavy emphasis on vigorous foot and shoulder rubs, to soothe travelers’ most common aches.

And if you’ve found your skin looking less than radiant from the harsh heat and sun, the chic spa’s Fire and Ice Facial will rejuvenate it with a warm and tingly resurfacing mask, followed by a facial massage using smooth, chilled bulbs to stimulate circulation. The Cornelia Spa at The Surrey takes a subtler, yet no less powerful, approach to cooling guests down. Each body treatment, like the Champagne & Pearl Sugar Glow Body Polish, ends with the Upper East Side spa’s “Signature Cooling Caress,” in which guests are draped with a cooling neck towel and presented with a sorbet amuse-bouche. 

Cooling herb-infused oil for a relaxing head massage at the Spa at the Mandarin Oriental New York

You’ve probably heard of hot stone massage, but what about cold stone? The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental uses smooth, chilled stones (or hot, if you’d prefer) in the massage portion of its Ayurvedic Ritual. The nearly three-hour experience also features Ayurvedic herb-infused oil treatments on the entire body and a calming head massage. Another chilled-out option at the luxe spot is the Thai Yoga Experience. After getting a massage, stretching out in assisted yoga postures and soaking in an herbal bath, you’ll cool down with a chilling foot massage and one of the spa’s tasty lemongrass coolers. If it’s so hot that even your fingers are begging for something cool, head down to Chillhouse. The recently opened spa on the Lower East Side, which focuses on massages and meticulous manicures, uses the cooling properties of mint in a coffee hand scrub to give your paws a gentle chill at the end of The Full Monty nail service. 

Freezing takes on both a literal and figurative meaning at Tribeca Medspa. Its anti-aging Stem Cell Facial uses dermaplaning exfoliation and frozen bovine stem cells on the face to reduce the signs of aging. The chemical messengers in the stem cells help boost the production of collagen and elastin in your skin, resulting in a face that’s nearly frozen in time. The facial is one of many beautifying skin-care options, such as Botox, chemical peels and nonsurgical face-lifts, for women and men available at the medical spa.

If a cool, dark cave starts to look like paradise to you after hoofing around in the hot, humid weather all day, you’re in luck at Aura Wellness Spa. The day spa chills one of its therapeutic grottoes to 40 degrees. These indoor caves, made from mineral-rich soil, are said to promote health benefits, like stress relief, boosted metabolism and improved circulation. The spa recommends breaking a sweat in the heated grottoes, then cooling down in the “Stone Ice Grotto” to remove toxins from the body. If nothing else, the experience is certainly a refreshing shock to the system. Access to the grottoes is complimentary when you book a massage, body scrub, facial or other spa treatment. Otherwise, $50 buys you a two-hour pass to the distinctive structures. 

Cold plunge pools at Aire Ancient Baths New York

If all you want to do this month is splash around the pool, give Aire Ancient Baths New York a try. The spa revives the wellness rituals of the ancient Greeks and Romans with 90-minute sessions in its candlelit, brick-walled bathing chamber. The two chilled plunge pools (one of which often has an ice block bobbing around in it) provide instant relief from August’s doggiest days. You can also float around four other luxe tubs, including a saltwater “floatarium” as dense as the Dead Sea, and a bubbling jet-propelled pool, or duck into the eucalyptus-scented steam room. 

Chill pool at Premier57

How about an igloo for your cooling pleasure? Step into the Ice Igloo at Premier57 (115 E. 57th St., 212.750.8800), a hydrotherapy wellness center. Chilled to a restorative 46 degrees, the Ice Igloo room helps clients acclimate their body temperature after sweat sessions in Premier57’s heated saunas. According to the spa, short stints in the cold environment stimulate the immune system, close pores and relieve pain, but escape from summer’s intense heat might be the biggest benefit.

Extreme heat can call for extreme relief measures, like hopping into a subzero chamber. The treatment’s called cryotherapy, and some spas around the city have begun to offer it. The process is simple: Strip down to your underwear, slip on some cotton or wool gloves (provided) and towel off any moisture on your body. Then, step into the 6-foot tube, which puts everything from the neck down into an environment cooled between minus 184 and minus 264 degrees. The session lasts for up to three minutes, and the sudden drop in body temperature promises health benefits like cardiovascular stimulation, calorie burning, reduced inflammation and improved recovery time after strenuous workouts. Celebrities like Demi Moore and Kate Moss have all caught on to the cryo-craze.

Woman in KryoLife chamber

Ready for your own deep freeze? KryoLife offers conventional full-body cryotherapy, along with local cryotherapy that targets particular areas of the body, and “KryoSculpt,” which uses minus 160-degree, liquid-nitrogen vapors on isolated body parts to create a slimming effect. Chill Space NYC, helmed by a chiropractor and kinesiologist, offers sessions in a high-tech cryo-sauna. If you need to warm up after your treatment, try the restorative flotation therapy in saltwater baths, which reduce sensory stimulation, along with infrared sauna sessions. Who knew chilling out could do so much beautifying?