visit boston

Hidden Gems Of Boston // Brunching at McCabe's

Spa-aaahhh Time With Bliss Spa Boston

Bliss Spa in Boston, MA: Inside the facial treatment room.
Bliss Spa in Boston, MA:  Wall decor inside the ladies' waiting room.
Bliss Spa in Boston, MA: Wall decor in ladies' locker room.
Bliss Spa in Boston, MA: The "Spaaaahhh" entrance.

I started going to Bliss Spa in San Francisco back in 2005.  I don't remember how I got to know about them, but it really doesn't matter because it was love at first sight!  I've had many spa "trial and error" experiences and realize that I get what I pay for - I once had an allergic reaction to an extraction done (probably due to un-sanitized tools) and once had a manicurist cut too deep into my cuticles and resulted in major bleeding.  Needless-to-say, I've since learned to be very selective when it comes to spas!

With Boston being my adopted home these days, this Bliss location has become my go-to spa.  It's relatively small, but the high-ceiling design ensures that there is plenty of natural light coming through the space, giving it a very welcoming vibe.

Bliss Spa in Boston, MA: Lobby Area.
Bliss Spa in Boston, MA: Lobby Area & Product-Testing Station.
Bliss Spa in Boston, MA: Entrance to the fabulous ladies' locker room.

some tips to ensure you get the best spa experience

I know that with Bliss' pricing, it is a splurge.  Since I don't go every month, I try to "reasonably" justify the visits by dividing the cost by 3 (I usually go once every 3 months) and it's essentially one less eating-out dinner per month.  I know I'm fortunate that my budget allows for this splurge, and I think the most important thing is that you find a spa you love and your skin loves and that the place is clean, has a responsible staff and offers you amenities to substantiate what they charge you

With that in mind, I am sharing below the 6 things you should look out for when checking out a spa.  Being able to verify these things will help you make your "justified" spa choice and will ensure that you walk out of the place completely happy and worry-free!

W  H  A  T     T  O     L  O  O  K     O  U  T     F  O  R     W  H  E  N   VISIT  I  N  G     A     N  E  W     S  P  A     #  1    C  l  e  a  n  l  i  n  e  s  s     o  f     t  h  e     S  p  a  c  e   1. Yes, I transform into Inspector Gadget when I am at the spa!  It's better safe than sorry.  2. Plus, it's worth this time investment to ensure that I can truly enjoy my experience worry-free and that I can make a particular spa my go-to.    3. You don't need to get down on your knees to inspect, but look for obvious signs - clean bathrooms/locker rooms, no leftover nail clipping on/around nail stations, clean work station surface, fresh sheets in treatment rooms, clean uniforms worn by the staff, clean hands of the staff, etc. 
W  H  A  T     T  O     L  O  O  K     O  U  T     F  O  R     W  H  E  N     VISIT  I  N  G     A     N  E  W     #  2    Know Where The Tools Are Coming From     1. Just like when you visit your dentist, you expect all the cleaning tools to be freshly sanitized.    2. You should demand the same at the spa!  3. And if the staff is hesitant or unwilling to tell you how they clean the tools, you should run the other way.  4. For nail care, I would also like to see the tools come in a sealed bag and my nail technician rip open the pouch right in front of me.  For facials/body treatments, I like to use the time when my esthetician leaves the room for me to undress to do some inspections.  5. Don't be shy about asking the staff to change out the tool kit if you spot anything suspicious.  You have every right to do that!
W  H  A  T     T  O     L  O  O  K     O  U  T     F  O  R     W  H  E  N     VISIT  I  N  G     A     N  E  W     S  P  A     #  3    K  n  o  w     W  h  a  t     P  r  o  d  u  c  t  s     A  r  e     B  e  i  n  g     U  s  e  d   1. You know how we spend so much time researching skin care products that suit our skin needs?  Same care should be done for your spa treatments.    2. The spa should have a wide product selection that can cover different skin types or skin don't want the wrong things put on your face, right!  3. It's also important to do some research on any "trendy" treatments to see if the ingredients used may cause your skin to react.  An example is seaweed body wrap - Seaweed contains high concentration of iodine that is beneficial to some, but can cause breakouts for others.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR WHEN VISITING A NEW SPA #4    C  o  m  m  u  n  i  c  a  t  i  o  n     F  r  o  m     Y  o  u  r     E  s  t  h  e  t  i  c  i  a  n   1. A responsible esthetician always asks about your current ritual to flag any possible reaction to products used during treatment. This is particularly important for facial/body treatments.   2. An example from my recent facials - My esthetician asked if I had used retinol-based products few days prior because a peel that she would use might cause reaction if my skin had any retinol on it.    3. A good esthetician also checks on you throughout the treatment to ensure you're not having any discomfort.  4. The bottom line is this - An esthetician who takes the time to understand your skin needs and to ensure your comfort is someone who doesn't mind making adjustments to your treatment to ensure that you get the best experience.  And a spa that encourages its staff to take such care is all about giving you the best services that you've paid for.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR WHEN VISITING A NEW SPA #5    P  u  s  h  y     S  a  l  e  s     P  e  o  p  l  e  ?     N  o     T  h  a  n  k  s  !   1. I want to be fair to the spa staff who truly cares about their clients as they make recommendations.  I love them and would take their reco any day.  2. I do watch out for the ones who push hard for products I already know are not good for my skin or those who suggest I get a facial frequently knowing that I already have a robust daily skin care ritual.   3. Reason 1:  The experienced staff has the skin type/skin condition knowledge and wouldn't steer you toward mismatched products.   4. Reason 2:  As a general rule of thumb, if you maintain a good daily skin care ritual (like the one I recommended in my last post), you really only need a professional facial once every 2 to 3 months.    
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR WHEN VISITING A NEW SPA #6    G  e  n  e  r  o  u  s     O  f  f  e  r  i  n  g  s     o  f     S  n  a  c  k  s     a  n  d     D  r  i  n  k  s   1. I always joke that I can live in a good spa waiting room forever, but all jokes aside, part of going to a spa is to rejuvenate your body, so having a small offerings of snacks and drinks should be part of the experience.   2. Some people may get dehydrated from massages or any heat-related treatments, so a spa that doesn't skim on the drinks is a place that cares about giving you an overall good experience.  No one wants to say "I pass out at the spa"!   3. Also relating to massages or body treatments, it's best not to go in with a full stomach.  I'm often starving by the time I'm done, so having small bites to snack on in the waiting room really closes out the experience on a positive note. 

my Top picks for bliss pampering

Bliss checks all of the above and that's why they have my loyalty all these years. In case you're interested in checking it out, I want to share what I like and why I enjoy going there so much.  I'll start with a few of my favorite treatments that I've been getting since day one.

M  Y     T  O  P     P  I  C  K  S     F  O  R     B  L  I  S  S     <     F  A  C  I  A  L  S     >    F  a  b  u  l  o  u  s     F  a  c  i  a  l   1. The Basic:  This is a "basic" facial that includes your usual cleansing, exfoliating, masking and extractions.  But don't let my "basic" description fool you - You'll also get extras like a good rubdown on my neck, chest, arms and feet!    2. Perfect For:  Regular upkeep and those who are very good about getting a professional facial regularly.  3. Recommended Frequency:  Once every 3 months.   T  r  i  p  l  e     O  x  y  g  e  n     F  a  c  i  a  l   1. The Basic:  Building on top of a basic facial, you'll also get a targeted peel, energizing enzyme pack and 3 forms of skin brightening oxygen, including their famous O2 spray.   2. Perfect For:  Special occasions (getting that glow for a dinner party) and those wanting heavy dose of skin brightening.  3. Recommended Frequency:  Once very 6 months (assuming you do a basic facial once very 2 months).
M  Y     T  O  P     P  I  C  K  S     F  O  R     B  L  I  S  S     <     N  A  I  L     C  A  R  E     >    H  o  t     C  r  e  a  m     M  a  n  i  c  u  r  e   1. The Basic:  Consider this their basic manicure, but there's nothing basic about it.  Your hands get prepped with a hot cream soak to get your skin nice and moisturized.     2. Perfect For:  Regular nail care, special occasions, vaca-prep.  3. Recommended Frequency:  Whenever you like!  4. Staying Power: Assume normal wear, mine stays wiht no chip for at least 4 weeks, sometimes longer. No Joke!   H  o  t     M  i  l  k     a  n  d     A  l  m  o  n  d     P  e  d  i  c  u  r  e   1. The Basic:  Your feet gets a pre-pedi soak in steamed whole milk and almond oil.  Followed by a softening scrub before applying nail color.  2. Perfect For:  Regular nail care, special occasions, vaca-prep.  3. Recommended Frequency:  Whenever you like! Or once every 2 months (to benefit from the soak and scrub for smooth skin).  4. Staying Power: Same as mani.
M  Y     T  O  P     P  I  C  K  S     F  O  R     B  L  I  S  S     <     O  T  H  E  R  S     >    B  r  o  w  /  L  i  p     W  a  x  i  n  g   1. The Basic:  Bliss uses their signature "Poetic Wax" which has a nice aromatic scent.  It's strip-free and absolutely painless! I'd only let a Bliss esthetician touch my brows!   2. Perfect For:  Any occasion.  3. Recommended Frequency:  Whenever you like!   B  l  i  s  s  a  g  e     B  o  d  y     M  a  s  s  a  g  e   1. The Basic:  Considered their signature massage, which also includes an awesome warm wax foot wrap and comes in 3 duration options.   2. Perfect For:  Loosening those knots; those who get massages regularly and those without any special injuries/pain.  3. Recommended Frequency:  Whenever you like! 

Not your ordinary spa

While the facials and manicures are awesome, what I always look forward to is what I think sets Bliss apart from other spas I've visited.  I always make sure I tag an extra hour to my appointment just to be able to enjoy this little gem, which is their amazing ladies' locker room and waiting room facilities.  And here's why...

~ 6 reasons I love bliss so much ~

REASON ONE // The housekeeping staff always keeps the ladies' locker room clean and neat (I mean, just look at those perfect rolls!!).

REASON TWO // An abundance of Bliss skin care and body care products!

Bliss Spa in Boston, MA: An abundance of Bliss skin care and body care products inside the ladies' locker room.

REASON THREE // The eucalyptus steam shower (The heavenly combination of eucalyptus-scented steam + Bliss hair and body products + rainshower = Bliss).

Bliss Spa in Boston, MA: The eucalyptus steam shower inside the ladies' locker room.

REASON FOUR // The wall decors are to die for.

REASON FIVE // I can live in this waiting room forever.

Bliss Spa in Boston, MA: Inside the waiting room.

REASON SIX // Last but not least, the amazing service from an experienced crew performed in an ultra chic and clean environment.

something unique at every bliss location

In case you're interested in visiting a Bliss on your next destination trip, there are currently 21 locations across the U.S. and internationally.  Majority of them are located inside the W Hotel.  And if you know someone who lives at the W Residence, there is a 10% resident discount (Only selected W Hotels have W Residences).  What's so cool about these locations is that each one has a little uniqueness to it.  While you can expect consistent service level, there's always an element of surprise when you walk into a different Bliss.

~In the U.S.~
Bliss Spa in the U.S. (From top left) // Chicago, Atlanta, Hoboken, Soho NYC, 49 NYC, Dallas, Hollywood, Scottsdale, San Francisco, Fort Lauderdale, South Beach, Washington D.C..

Bliss Spa in the U.S. (From top left) // Chicago, Atlanta, Hoboken, Soho NYC, 49 NYC, Dallas, Hollywood, Scottsdale, San Francisco, Fort Lauderdale, South Beach, Washington D.C..

Bliss Spa Around the World // Barcelona-Spain (row 1), Doha - Qatar (row 2 #1), London - U.K. (row 2 #2 + row 4 #2), Hong Kong (row 2 #3), St. Petersburg - Russia (row 3 + row 4 #1).

Bliss Spa Around the World // Barcelona-Spain (row 1), Doha - Qatar (row 2 #1), London - U.K. (row 2 #2 + row 4 #2), Hong Kong (row 2 #3), St. Petersburg - Russia (row 3 + row 4 #1).

The Boston Bliss is located inside the W Boston at 100 Stuart St, Boston, MA, on the mezzanine level.  For other location details, visit Bliss Spa site.

I hope you've find the 6 tips in this post helpful in finding a good spa or in re-examining the one you've been going to.  I also hope that you've enjoyed the visual tour of Bliss.

What is your favorite local spa?  Would love to hear from you!  And if you're visiting Boston and would like some recommendations for estheticians at the Boston Bliss, let me know and I'll be happy to share.

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday Snapshots - Instagram Lately

Life is somewhat back to normal after a few hectic weeks of packing and moving.  Looking at my recent Instagram posts...I think I've been just a tiny bit obsessed with snacks and the view from our new home.  Can you blame me? Especially those irresistible sweets!

From top left:  1) Breakfast of champions 2) Sharing some Clarins love 3) Can't say no to pistachio dount 4) Mesmerizing sunset view from our new home 5) Georgetown Cupcakes - Need I say more? 6) Spring forward...the tulip season is here

Hope you're having a great weekend! And Happy Spring!!


Saturday Snapshots - Boston Charm

Weather Channel app is reporting "1°...feels like -22°" in Boston...Brrr!!!!!!  But even the chill can't take away the ultra charming side of this historical city.  Here are some recent snapshots in my adopted hometown.

Boston Charm: Make a grand entrance at No. 25 on Commonwealth Ave in the Back Bay neighborhood.
Boston Charm: Make Way for the Ducklings statue in Boston Public Garden.
Boston Charm: Snowy scene in Boston Public Garden, Founded in 1837.
Boston Charm: Acorn Street, the most photographed street in the historical Beacon Hill neighborhood.

From Top Left:  1) Making a grand entrance on Commonwealth Avenue.  2) Boston's beloved ducklings - Statue in Boston Public Garden celebrating the children's book, "Make Way for the Ducklings".   3) Snow-covered Boston Public Garden (Founded in 1837).  4) Acron Street - Boston's most-photographed street in the historical Beacon Hill neighborhood.