Review of Cowshed Spa in Soho House, New York

Tour of Beauty: Cowshed Spa

When it comes to Soho House, the doors are closed to almost everyone. Manhattan's famously exclusive private club is known for letting only the "right" people in, and its membership waiting list is a mile long. (Remember when the Sex and the City girls were kicked out?) Safe to say, it isn't easy to get through its doors — unless, of course, you feel like relaxing, being pampered, and generally having a blissful experience at Cowshed.

Spanning the greater part of Soho House's third floor, Brit import Cowshed is one of New York's best-kept spa secrets. Until last year, only members of the club were allowed access. Now, appointments are open to everyone who seeks a luxurious but unpretentious place to spoil themselves.

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I recently paid Cowshed a visit, so to find out about the experience, keep reading.

Cowshed invited me in for a complimentary massage, and lemme tell you, my tense muscles needed it. Walking into the spa was relaxing in itself; its entryway and low-light meditation lounge are somehow rustic and luxurious at the same time. Cowhide rugs, cushy leather chairs, and barn-wood walls make for a cozy feel — no frou-frou fluff or clinical coldness here. The women's lounge features a eucalyptus steam room for pre- or post-treatment unwinding.

Speaking of the treatment: to dekink my Quasimodo shoulders, I chose the hot stone massage. I was allowed to choose my own scented oil from an assortment. This is the kind of detail that so many spas don't think about, but my inner control freak likes to decide what's used. Master of my fate, captain of my stone massage, etc. As the massage therapist worked her way around my body, all of the nasty knots and tension disappeared. Even some that I didn't know were there disappeared. Bliss.

If you love the products used in your treatment, it's easy to bring some bovine bliss into your home. Cowshed has its own line of botanical body care, home fragrance, and skin care; it's free of parabens, petrochemicals, sulfates, and artificial colors and fragrances. While freshening up postmassage, I fell in love with the bright, mandarin-scented Grumpy Cow shower gel.

Would I recommend Cowshed? Absolutely — so much so that I plan to go back on my own dime next time I'm in New York. It's ideal for anyone who wants a quiet, intimate, low-key luxury in her spa. I'd bet the farm on that.

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