After some extremely serious research over the past few years, I’ve compiled a list of the top contenders for the best massages, therapies and other treatments to keep the body and soul aglow through the ‘fairy dust’ that Kathmandu casts on her residents and visitors. Check ’em out!
For a serene getaway inside the city: Avata Wellness Center
Situated in Baluwatar, Avata Wellness is one of the best spa centers in Kathmandu. This calming sanctuary is worlds away from the energetic sounds and vistas of sophisticated life. The place is tranquil and the expansive hushed garden gives you the feeling of relaxation even before checking into the spa room. The pastel palette and the thoughtful fusion of zen and nature work perfectly to balance emotions, and reduce anxiety and stress. Head to the opulent private spa room, and move through the series of earth-driven and holistic spa treatments, followed by head-to-toe massages. Definitely try their deep tissue massage which penetrates deep into your muscles and breaks down all the tensions of sore and rigid muscles from excessive use.
For a mani-pedi: Amantran Spa
If you’d like to be mentally transported outside of Kathmandu for an afternoon, go up the stairs to the serene salon at Amantran in Balawatar. My favorite experience here is their pedicure. Recline in their massage chairs, watch the multicolored lights change in the footbaths’ bubbles, or use their free wifi and drink tea. Your tootisies get the detailed attention they need after navigating the uneven streets of Kathmandu. The range of products used are silky smooth, and you’ll walk out feeling young(er) again. The nail polish selection is only so-so; I bring my own. They also do all sorts of massage, facials, waxing, hair cutting: the whole beautifying shebang.
For a relaxing massage: Himalayan Healers
On the top floor with a view over Kathmandu, these Thamel-based experts have perfected a skilled touch. For years I’ve been going for the deep tissue massage with oil, and end up all glistening in skin and spirit. There are plenty of other styles to choose from, too. They offer discounts if you buy multiple massages, and/or if you happen to be a Yeti Airlines member (which is very easy to become!)
For a top-end experience: Club Oasis at the Hyatt Regency
Club Oasis is firmly in the luxury category as far as spas in Kathmandu go. The ambience is calm with candlelight and the sound of running water, the facilities and accessories are spotless, and the staff knowledgeable and attentive. While the mani-pedis are pretty similar to what you’d get elsewhere in the city (for a lower price), the facials and massages are top-notch. While it’s one of the most expensive options (if not the most expensive) in Kathmandu, globally speaking it’s not that pricey, with even the most expensive treatments coming in at under $100. Club Oasis also has a beautiful sauna, jacuzzi and steam room for customers to use, and there’s a gym next door, plus the beautiful Hyatt swimming pool outside.
For the hair: Hair Salon Kathmandu
For an appointment at hair heaven, see Sangita! Besides delivering a killer cut, she specializes in hair therapies like keratin straightening, all kinds of coloring, and henna treatments. She has two studios, catering to those on both sides of the Bagmati. The original spot is in Hattiguada and a new branch is in the Moksh complex, Jhamsikhel.
For a specialty massage: You, I Health Centre
Off Durbar Marg, this small, no-frills space is a little hidden. With recent construction in shops surrounding it, the signboard is often misplaced. I adore the style that the seven long-term therapists use, and have been going during my lunch breaks for years. It’s a shared silent room, so mobiles are turned off and there’s no chit chat. They use heat, pressure points, and other fine-tuned techniques to sort out whatever ails you. They do moxibustion and acupuncture there too, but my favorite is the focused, one hour (or more) of great value body work.
Durbar Marg, Shakya Arcade 2nd 012298154
For body-balancing alignment: SOTAI- Kai Therapy Center
Ahh, this is a calm, quiet refuge to bring the body to be straightened and sorted. Sotai and his hearing impaired staff make a precise assessment of the body, and then work their magic. People visit here to relieve muscle spasms, migraines, and other aches and pains. Besides therapeutic treatments, they have ones purely for relaxation too.
The above are my favorites, but other friends are loyally bound to Chaitanya Medi Spa, Tranquility Spa, Kinjala Spa and Seeing Hands. I look forward to trying these places out, and having readers share in my extensive research efforts in this evolving field of self-care in the city.
Top image: Malmaison Hotels / Flickr