Our Very Best Spa Gifts
We're all familiar with the saying "the best gifts come in small packages", but our beauty editors here would argue that sometimes the very best gifts come in... no package at all. We're talking about spa gifts, of course, which we feel make perfect presents for all sorts of occasions, from birthdays to anniversaries to Valentine's Day. Not only are they thoughtful, relaxing, and easy to find and buy, but spa gifts pretty much never go out of style, making them great gifts for just about anyone in your life. In fact, the spa gift ideas we've compiled on this page are so good, you might think about gifting one to yourself—we think you deserve it.
What is it? This modality employs smooth basalt stones or river rocks that have been heated to a uniform temperature in a water bath. (Basalt stones are very rich in iron, which makes them particularly great at retaining heat.) The therapist then places them on points along the body to create soothing pressure and uses them as massage tools to knead muscles with a steady pressure.
Why they'll love it: The heated stones help melt away tension, and make muscle fiber more flexible, enabling massage therapists to work out deeply buried knots. They also increase blood circulation, which relieves inflammation and sends in a fresh supply of oxygen to restore injured tissues.
Who is it for? Anyone who thinks they're too ticklish for a traditional massage.
What is it? In the US, a salt cave or salt room is usually a man-made structure within a spa. Inside, guests recline comfortably—sometimes in a zero-gravity chair to add a dream-like state of weightlessness—while surrounded by glittering salt blocks and loose salt, usually imported from Himalayan mines or Eastern European seas. Proponents of the therapy posit that the mineral content can help relieve certain respiratory ailments and skin conditions.
Why they'll love it: Even if you're not sold on the health benefits, it's easy to see how a salt cave would be an excellent place for an hour's worth of quiet contemplation. The warmth enveloping the room, the dim light shimmering off salt-licked walls, the soft music washing through it all—this is a prime destination for meditative stress relief.
Who is it for? Anyone who doesn't mind sitting serenely by themselves, like introverted types.
What is it? It's the most basic of the facials, but it's a classic for a reason: general enough for all skin types, yet also personalised to the individual. A European facial includes six basic steps—cleansing, exfoliation, steam, extractions, a custom mask, and moisturising—that are meant to leave the skin looking rejuvenated and nourished.
Why they'll love it: The amount of personal attention, mainly. They'll get to lie back and zone out as the aesthetician obsesses over every detail of their face. And a well-trained aesthetician is adept at making their movements into an ongoing facial massage.
Who is it for? Anyone who wants to know what this whole "luxury skincare" thing is about.
What is it? Inside a float tank, every step is taken to reduce sensory experience. The air and water are skin temperature, and the tank itself is light- and soundproof. Guests float in the water due to its high Epsom-salt content and are encouraged to spread out their limbs, blurring the boundary between the body and its environment. Patrons frequently report that in this sensory-deprived state, physical and mental stressors seem to melt away.
Why they'll love it: Like a salt cave, a float tank invites inward contemplation. It may even go a step further and quiet a running interior monologue, leaving them to just float and be.
Who is it for? Anyone who would like to get their mind far, far away from a recurring physical ailment or learn how to relax even when burdened by a stressful schedule.
What is it? Besides just painting the nails, technicians tend to cuticles, cut and shape nails, and exfoliate the hands and feet. Many nail salons offer indulgent add-ons like paraffin wax, hot-towel wraps, and scalp massages.
Why they'll love it: A technician does all the work while they sink into a comfy chair and flip through a magazine.
Who is it for? Anyone who gets antsy or feels wasteful spending more than an hour or so seated in one place. Perfect for type-A personalities who merely need a screen break.
What is it? Exactly what it sounds like—an afternoon or a full day of pampering, meant to leave them feeling rejuvenated from the inside out. Depending on the spa, services typically include body scrubs, mani-pedis, massages, and perhaps sessions in an infrared sauna. Make it an event by planning a couples spa day or a girls' day for a group of friends.
Why they'll love it: Many spas make the experience special with extras like chocolates and prosecco or a plush robe to wear during your visit. And through it all, the focus is on what will make them look and feel great.
Who is it for? Anybody who really needs to get away from it all, whether that means de-stressing from a demanding job or spending time away from the kids.
What is it? Sure, most people are good about keeping up with regular haircuts, but how many still indulge in a visit to the salon simply to have their hair styled. Over the course of a short session, they'll have their hair perfectly coiffed into the style of their choice, be it sleek and straight or with full, voluminous curls.
Why they'll love it: A blowout is a great way to get primped and polished for a special event like Valentine's dinner or a night out with the girls. And, a lot of salons indulge guests with extras like glasses of prosecco.
Who is it for? That person who never takes their hair out of a ponytail or laments about how they lack the time and skill to style their own hair.
What is it? Finally, a spa gift for the guys! The retro barbershop has made a huge comeback in recent years, and more and more modern men are seeking out the straight-razor shave experience—complete with rich lather and hot towels—that their grandfathers once loved.
Why they'll love it: Today's barbershops blend good old-fashioned service with contemporary touches such as flat-screen TVs broadcasting the match, or complementary pints of beer and glasses of whiskey.
Who is it for? The dude who rocks his Movember facial hair well into Spring.