Relaxation, rejuvenation and serenity can be alien words in fast-paced Sydney.
A calm and peaceful moment is wearing headphones to drown out beeping cars. Pampering entails a $20 lunch on a weekday. Rest is riding a bus without crying babies.
Yes, there are beaches – but around the city, the hubbub can be inescapable. But switching off during the day is – believe it or not – absolutely achievable. As long as fancy touch phones, iPads and kids are left at home, chaos can be averted – at a cost.
As well as crowds and queues, Sydney is home to some ultra-relaxing day spa and massage centers you may enjoy when you travel here. Just off main roads, and in inner-city neighborhoods, these five places are inspired by nature, the Middle East and Asia:
1. Nature’s Energy
In Balmain, these unisex spa baths are encircled with dark cobbled stones – it’s like being in a secluded rainforest.
It’s fitting – every treatment is based on natural elements found on Earth.
During a massage, scented soy candles surround clients. Then shea butter, coconut oil, sunflower oil and jojoba oil moisturizes.
There’s variety here: massages can be tailored for both expectant mothers and sports professionals. There is something on the menu for the entire family, but leaving the kids with a nanny is best.
Nature’s Energy, 312 Darling St., Balmain, +61 (0)2 9555 5533
2. Pañpuri Organic Spa
In downtown Pyrmont, behind wooden, black-lacquered doors, Pañpuri Organic Spa is a peaceful, Indonesian-inspired haven. Cambodian stone sculptures lie within and aromatic candles warm black and gold corridors.
Everything is organic: the welcome tea, bathrobes, cotton buds, towels and even slippers.
Pañpuri’s treatment rooms include a double suite with hydrotherapy bath and steam.
The signature treatment – the Mali Moonlight Massage – is a combination of traditional Thai massage, aromatherapy, reiki and acupressure techniques.
Sharon Stone and Richard Gere are regular clients in Pañpuri’s spas in Bali and Spain, so this place has garnered quite a reputation. As has Sydney-based masseuse, Wiwiek, who is an expert at getting rid of knots.
Pañpuri Organic Spa, 55 Miller St., Pyrmont, +61 (0)2 9660 1916
3. Fleur De Lys Medispa
Famous for its traditional Hamam experience, Fleur de Lys is a spicy fragranced bathhouse and spa is a Middle Eastern mythical escape, just off Oxford Street.
The heated marble slab, creamy tiles, gold basin and elaborate wall carvings might make people feel like Arabian royalty for a day.
A full body oil massage and exfoliating scrub is followed by a muddy body wrap. Their unique 24-carat gold facial includes oxygen detox therapy and anti-aging facials. If you’re in for a romantic escape, they offer couples’ packages.
Fleur De Lys Medispa, 2A Queen St., Woollahra, +61 (0)2 9361 4441
4. Venustus Spa
On Oxford Street, Paddington, Venustus is a humble business is more than 20 years old. Venustus Spa focuses on treatment – not fancy chandeliers or expensive tiles on walls.
Few complain about the lack of fountains after a Four Hands massage.
It’s a unique experience of two therapists giving a full-body massage in a synchronised motion – it feels like a giant back-rubbing with four hands. Venustus personalizes every body polish to suit both the skin type and wishes of their customers – and the spa’s local, organic products smell like a stress-reliever in a jar.
Venustus Spa, 81 Oxford St., Paddington, +61 (0)2 9361 4014
5. Endota Day Spa
Endota is a contemporary, environmental spa chain is gaining momentum in the beauty industry. Its mission (apart from profit) is to make spa visits a healthy habit rather than a luxury treat.
In the heart of Paddington’s boutique shopping strip, this is popular with the girls – it’s even designated a room for hens’ night shenanigans.
Other rooms are attuned to patrons’ state of mind: spirited, calm or energetic. Four-hour retreat packages and casual visits are available.
124 Jersey Road, Paddington, +61 (0) 2 9363 2483
Editor’s note: This article was previously published in 2011. It was reformatted and republished in 2017.