Lauren Gamp tries out a fusion massage at Exhale Spa, in NYC’s meatpacking district
What is it?
A 60-minute Swedish massage using your choice of aromatherapy oils, with tailored pressure and focus.
Exhale Spa on the lower ground floor of the hotel includes curtain-drawn treatment areas, a gym and fitness studio, an activewear boutique and changing rooms complete with dry sauna and steam room. I’m shown to my locker where I find a velour robe and flip-flops.
After being led to a treatment space, my massage therapist quizzes me about any problem areas or particularly tense spots on my body before asking me to choose my level of pressure and preferred aromatherapy oil (uplifting, detoxifying or relaxing herbal blend). After having walked 25 minutes to the hotel in a bid to burn off half a brunch pancake (my 22kg suitcase in tow), I request much-needed deep pressure for the massage and reassure my therapist to ignore any yelps of pain — I’d thank him for it later.
The massage begins with what feels like a short physiotherapy session. He puts pressure on my upper right shoulder and outer left thigh simultaneously. I feel my alignment correct itself and my body relax into the bed. Over the following 60 minutes, the deep pressure I’d asked was duly delivered — I can almost hear the knots in my upper back being pounded out. I may be alone in this belief, but there’s something incredibly relaxing about going through the pain of tension relief, like the muscle exhaustion you experience after an intense workout.
When the massage is over, I’m given an ice-cold glass of water before being sent on my way, heavy-eyed and immensely tempted to doze for the rest of the afternoon.
The massage therapist definitely delivered on my request for deep pressure, leaving my muscles relaxed and my posture noticeably better for the rest of the day.
Just a short walk from Chelsea Market or the start of the High Line (a linear public park, built on a historic freight railway line above the city), the location of Gansevoort Meatpacking Hotel couldn’t be more ideal. There was some renovation work being carried out nearby, but it couldn’t be heard once I was inside the hotel’s heavy revolving door.
The plunge rooftop restaurant is all about the views. I dine early in the evening, just in time to watch the sunset over the Hudson River. Visiting in the crisp early spring, I choose to enjoy the vista from inside, but during high season you can spend happy hour beside the rooftop pool. On weekdays between 5-7pm, a variety of small plates and selected drinks are available to order from the happy hour menu. I opt for a few small dishes, including smoked bacon mac and cheese, crispy mushroom and manchego croquettes with a truffle aioli dip, and coffee-rubbed fish tacos topped with a sweet hit of fresh pineapple pico de gallo.
My suite is on the 10th floor, overlooking the heart of the Meatpacking District and with a direct view of Chelsea Market. The bed is adorned with pillowcases on which my initials have been embroidered and the mattress is somewhere between memory foam and what everyone wants to believe a cloud feels like.
The personal touch of monogrammed pillowcases on the bed in my suite.
Manhattan hustle without the Midtown bustle. A perfect location for discovering the less tourist-ridden parts of the city.
Rooms from $395 (£297), depending on the season and availability.
The massage costs $140 (£105) for 60 minutes
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