Spa Diary: Goku NYC

Goku first opened in Kyoto, Japan in 2008 and has been wildly successful with a typical waitlist of 430,000 customers.

Goku first opened in Kyoto, Japan in 2008 and has been wildly successful with a typical waitlist of 430,000 customers.

If you ask any New Yorker, the city already has everything you could possibly need or want at any time of day or night. At first that sounds ideal, but it can be utterly exhausting—and it contributes to New York City’s reputation as the city that never sleeps. There’s one new spa aiming to shake up those sleepless nights with a specialty technique straight from Japan. Could this import help residents finally find sweet slumber? After one visit to Goku NYC, my answer is a resounding “yes.”

Goku NYC only has one—and only one—treatment on the menu: the Deep Sleep Head Spa Treatment. But that’s all that it needs. The singular service has a waitlist hovering around 500,000 people in Japan, but for now anyone can book 60 minutes ($150) or an extended 90 minutes ($225) in New York City and “fall into a dream you have never seen.”

Goku NYC is located on the second floor.

Goku NYC is located on the second floor.

Here’s what you’ll love about Goku NYC:

·     There is only one treatment on the menu, so no stressing over what to do with your limited time and if you’re choosing the correct treatment.

·     The hallway leading to the treatment rooms features mirrors and a light show that sets the scene for snoozing.

·     The feel-good effects of the treatment last long after you leave the spa, with better sleep for many nights to come and a clear mind.

·     After the treatment, the sweet tea and matcha cookie are a delicious and unexpected snack.

The check-in desk.

The check-in desk.

So, what makes this dreamy treatment so special it deserves its own dedicated spa? At its core, it’s a head massage, but it’s much more than any ordinary head massage. It features a stimulation technique that whisks you away from the stress of normal life and straight into a blissful sleep. Sleep is the goal both during and after the treatment, and most clients fall asleep within minutes of starting the treatment. Not to worry, the therapist will wake you back up when it’s time to go on with your day.

As soon as I was buzzed up from the Manhattan street, I felt an instant wave of relaxation sweep over me. Inside the second-floor spa, the lights were dim and blue-tinged creating a cool and calm ambience, which was a stark departure from the street below. After a quick check-in at the reception desk, I followed my therapist and walked down the high-tech mirrored hallway. The treatment is definitely the star, but this hallway is very close competition. In all my years of exploring spas, I haven’t walked through a such an impressive, immersive, and high-tech hallway. It feels like you’re inside of a kaleidoscope.

The kaleidescopic hallway.

The kaleidescopic hallway.

Another snapshot of the dazzling hallway.

Another snapshot of the dazzling hallway.

Naturally, the entire place is very Instagram-worthy, with fun shapes changing constantly (photo-taking is fully condoned, too.) It was difficult to tear myself away from the dazzling dream world, but a one-of-a-kind relaxing treatment awaited me around the corner, so I followed my therapist through the doorway. Each treatment room is small with a little entryway and a comfortable treatment chair. I changed into the provided robe and nestled into the chair.

The relaxing chair where my treatment took place.

The relaxing chair where my treatment took place.

My therapist returned shortly after and reclined the chair all the way back, covering me with a blanket. Then, she began the head massage. The elevated head massage uses a special technique that slowly builds up a feeling of intense relaxation and helps you fall into a blissful sleep. Each therapist has been trained by the founder to deliver the same experience. In fact, they all must give her the treatment in order to move onto working with clients. Safe to say, she sleeps very well no matter how stressful the massive waiting list might be!

Therapists align their hands and fingers to deliver precise pressure on the scalp, releasing tension in muscles all over the head and especially around the eyes. The technique also helps improve circulation so mind and body enter a state of total relaxation almost instantly. In addition to better sleep, it also improves focus, lowers stress levels, and brings a wave of euphoria over guests. Goku’s founder developed and refined the signature treatment with the help of Japan’s top health care professionals. It includes input from diverse fields including: neuroscience, acupuncture, psychology, and massage therapy.

The elevated head massage uses a special technique that slowly builds up a feeling of intense relaxation and helps you fall into a blissful sleep.

The elevated head massage uses a special technique that slowly builds up a feeling of intense relaxation and helps you fall into a blissful sleep.

Another factor that makes the treatment stand out is that it’s a completely dry experience, meaning that it’s just the therapist’s skilled hands without any water, lotion, or oils. My hair was a bit messy when I re-emerged from the treatment room, but it was nothing a hairbrush couldn’t fix. Goku NYC understands this, and offers an additional relaxation room with makeup, hairbrushes, curling irons, and seating to continue the wake up process before heading back out on the street.

The room has a wall of mirrors and brighter lighting than the rest of the spa, signaling that it’s time to perk up. I pulled my disheveled hair up into a ponytail and lingered, sipping on a sweet honey-orange tea and munching on a matcha cookie, until I felt ready to return to the city streets and the bright sunshine outside.

Confession: While I didn’t actually fall asleep during the treatment, I did enjoy restful sleep the next few nights after my visit. In fact, my sleep-tracking app clocked more time in deep sleep and full REM cycles than the previous nights pre-treatment. I’m confident you’ll fall head over heels for Goku NYC and its relaxing treatment just like I did.

Sweet tea and a matcha cookie were served post-treatment for a nice finish.

Sweet tea and a matcha cookie were served post-treatment for a nice finish.

Insider Tip: Don’t delay—once word gets out about Goku NYC, the waitlist in New York City could skyrocket to match the list in Japan. And when you do snag an appointment, be sure to arrive early enough to allow yourself photo opps in the kaleidoscopic hallway.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Mon-Sun)

Phone: 929-336-3088

Address: 18 West 38th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10018

Email: info@gokusleep.com

For more information and to book a treatment, head to Goku NYC’s website and follow them on Instagram: @goku_ny

[Photos by Jennifer Nied]

Jennifer Nied.jpg

Jennifer Nied is a freelance writer who resides in New York City with her husband and her dog Poppy. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, she has spent the last decade writing and editing for print and digital publications. She loves adventuring around the world on her snowboard and her running shoes. Follow her on Instagram: @jennifer_nied