Spa Diary: Liangtse Wellness
When I first learned the address of the newest spa in New York City, I’ll admit I was skeptical. Liangtse Wellness’ Midtown East location is synonymous with concrete residential high rises and commercial buildings—there’s not relaxation or much culture to speak of here. However, the traditional Chinese medicine-inspired spa has more than 400 outposts around the world, and this is the first in the U.S., so there’s bound to be something special in the debut New York City spot. Founded in Jinan, China in 1997, Liangtse Wellness has more than two decades to back up its unique treatment menu.
Here’s what you’ll love about Liangtse Wellness:
· Its convenient central location near many Midtown Manhattan offices makes the spa perfect for a relaxing lunch break treatment.
· The treatment menu is concise and limited to nine different services so you don’t get overwhelmed by choice and know everything on it is there for a reason.
· The spa offers one-of-a-kind treatments that you can’t get anywhere else in the city, such as Moxa Healing Therapy ($78, 45 minutes), which relies on a moxibustion device and dried medicinal herbs to stimulate circulation, and alleviate chronic pain and internal discomfort.
· The Chinese influence is strong, from the treatment menu throughout the space and interior design, with art and décor that make you feel like you’ve been transported across the globe.
· The massage therapists have an uncanny ability to pinpoint exactly where your muscles are knotted and release the tension.
· Classic Chinese reflexology offers the quickest way to detox the body and restore vitality with the Foot Massage ($99, 45 minutes).
I ventured out with an open mind to see for myself. I actually missed the front door and walked right past the entrance, so I had to retrace my steps. However, as soon I opened the glass door, noisy and smelly 55th Street was a distant memory. Yes, technically the street was still visible through the front windows, but the calming entry took over and welcomed me into the serene space. Eager to experience it, I arrived extra early.
The friendly receptionist greeted me and whisked me down the warmly lit hallway, straight to my treatment room. While there’s no dedicated relaxation area, there are two couches arranged in a cozy corner near the front entrance, complete with curated Asian art and plants in the event that your treatment room isn’t ready when you arrive.
The receptionist led me to my treatment room, where she showed me around before pointing out the packet of PJs, a cotton/linen T-shirt, and oversized shorts, then she left so that I could change. The room included an in-suite bathroom and sitting area adjacent to the main treatment space. The décor integrated dark woods, detailed door handles, and tiled floor to set a serene scene.
I changed quickly into the PJs and settled into the treatment bed, tucked under a silk cover, ready for my Facial Beauty Treatment ($88, 45 minutes). Looking up at the ceiling, I was happy to have the extra time to appreciate the wood details of the ceiling inset and artwork on the walls. It always pays to arrive early for spa treatments!
When my therapist returned, she wheeled in a cart of Wei skincare products and rearranged the steamer. This was the one and only facial treatment on the menu, so I expected a full consultation. Instead, she quickly got to work cleansing my skin—no discussion needed. Then, she applied a series of products to deep clean and renew skin. During each application, she kneaded my facial muscles and fluttered her fingertips along my cheeks with precision, working deep into the underlying tissues.
The facial incorporated both invigorating and calming elements, and offered the perfect balance of the two. First, my therapist worked out facial muscles and released tension throughout my face (I had no idea my cheeks were so tense!) The active masks matched the movements and added to the sensation with tingles and tickles—it felt like a deep tissue massage focused on my face.
While she let the facial mask get to work, she moved on to a full head massage with acupressure. After what felt like a full-facial workout, she calmed the movements and products down so I was hovering right on the edge of sleep. The Facial Beauty service ended in a fitting and distinctive way. Just when I was drifting off, the therapist knocked a few times with quick, strong taps of her fists on the top of my head. The unexpected sensation jolted me back to reality, awake and ready (almost) to return to the city streets and the rest of my day.
Moxa Healing Therapy
While the traditional Chinese Medicine influence shines through the whole treatment menu, the Moxa Healing Therapy is by far the most unique and culturally connected option on the menu. It incorporates traditional and modern techniques for restorative results. It’s perfect for healing trouble spots and works with a moxibustion machine that heats dried medicinal herbs placed on specific spots such as the shoulders, lower back, or whatever area needs extra TLC.
Liangtse Wellness has brought a wonderful slice of Chinese traditional medicine and wellness to Manhattan. Its curated treatment menu of centuries-old methods combats the modern aches and stresses plaguing harried New Yorkers. For locals and tourists alike, this is one tranquil spot you don’t want to miss.
Insider Tip: The spa has a VIP membership program that offers exclusive deals and bonuses each time you add value to your card. Members receive priority wait time and stress-free, easy access to treatments and the facility.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. (Mon-Sun)
Address: 150 E. 55th, New York, NY 10022
Photos by Jennifer Nied
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