Lifestyle

The Best Spas in Austin to Relax and Unwind

From swanky downtown spas to lakeside resorts, Austin's awash in relaxing retreats.

Photo courtesy of Omni Barton Creek
Photo courtesy of Omni Barton Creek
Photo courtesy of Omni Barton Creek

Austin may first and foremost be a legendary destination to get lit: rooftop bars, music festivals, and barbecues. But did you know that it can also be a place for R&R? After all, there’s gotta be somewhere for Austinites to seek refuge from the mayhem. Thankfully, you’ll find everything from swanky downtown spas to lakeside spa resorts out west, offering a tranquil haven to reset the body and melt away in bliss. No matter if you’re looking for a classic massage or facial to self-soothe after a long week at work, a side-by-side couple’s experience to spoil the boo, or a new-age therapy like those Infrared saunas you saw on that Anna Delvey series, the spas in Bat City will most certainly get any pace dialed down to ahhh. Here are the best sanctuaries to retreat to in Austin.

10 of the Best Spas in Austin

Fairmont Spa Austin

Downtown
Of all the downtown hotel spas, this is one of the biggest and best. Fairmont’s expansive area features nine newly renovated treatment rooms (including VIP couples’ suites) and heavenly solariums with saline soaking pools, eucalyptus steam grotto, and European dry heat sauna. Oh, and the views from here are magnificent. In terms of massage, try the Colorado River Hot Stone to boost circulation if you’re heading out on Rainey, or get the glow with a Vegan Facial if sticking around for caviar and bubbles at Room 725.

Miraval Austin

West Austin
Need an escape from the city and have bags of cash (you lucky thing, you)? Spend a day or an entire weekend at Miraval Austin. The beautiful 220-acre wellness resort is an all-classes and all-food-inclusive situation with a no-tipping policy, meaning you literally can switch off from anything that isn’t to do with your body and the Hill Country surroundings. Spa picks include the Hammam, a coffee-sugar exfoliation, wrap, purifying jasmine-rose clay application, and shower, followed by an aromatherapy massage and body butter.

VIVA Day Spa

Multiple locations
VIVA Day Spa is kind of like an awesome mega store for wellness: Get all your spa needs taken care of, then grab items to-go at checkout. Perfect for appointments in between WFH hours (and it helps that there are three locations in town-South Lamar, West 35th, and Domain Northside) and making this an easy visit for the busy bee. The 30-minute express facial (with dual cleansers, toner, steam, exfoliation, moisturizer, and sun protection) will have you back outside with a brand-new face!

Photo courtesy of Restore Hyper Wellness
Photo courtesy of Restore Hyper Wellness
Photo courtesy of Restore Hyper Wellness

Restore Hyper Wellness

South Lamar
There are locations of this Austin-born business all over the city, but our favourite is the South Lamar location, not just because it’s a short dash off the running trail, but because of the friendly service and multitude of futuristic (and effective) treatments available. There are both Cryotherapy and Infrared Therapy oxygen tanks. Plus, find IV drips, hydra facials, and even compression therapy. If you don’t know what these are, then they probably aren’t for you, but if you’re a fitness fanatic, follow celebrities, or generally love experimenting, you’re going to have a new bucket list of things to try in ATX.

Milk + Honey

Multiple locations
A long-time trusted day spa, Milk + Honey offers a full range of spa services including massage, waxing, lashes, and nail therapy, under a stunning design-forward space that’s a welcome air of calm the moment you walk in-even at its downtown location. Which is crucial after a night of revelling. You’ll need the Detox Steam and Massage treatment: a body brushing, invigorating steam treatment paired with an aromatherapy massage. Couples should look out for seasonal love retreat packages, too.

Lake Austin Spa Resort

West Austin
Another westside getaway, Lake Austin Spa Resort is just the romantic weekend escape you and your hardworking beau have been searching for. If you can’t swing a full weekend, then at least spend a day at the resort’s Lakehouse Spa. The LakeHouse Full Day Away package includes two 50-minute treatments and one 80-minute treatment of your choosing, plus lunch and a gift. Be warned, it’s a bit of a splurge at $845 per person per package. But y’all worked real hard to deserve that, right?

Hiatus Spa + Retreat

Downtown
Hiatus gives downtowners a chance to recharge for the week ahead with an arm’s list of treatments designed to get you looking and feeling your best. The Sparkler is a facial designed to brighten skin and reduce sun damage, whereas the expansive MedSpa offers everything from Botox to Kybella (double-chin treatment). Acupuncture, waxing, massage, and mani-pedi are also available.

Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Austin
Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Austin
Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Austin

The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Austin

Downtown
The Spa at the Four Seasons is always a luxurious moment of calm. Though it is in the heart of downtown, the spa is lakeside-facing, meaning guests waiting in the relaxation lounge are transported away from the hustle and bustle and into the serenity of nature. There’s a huge Himalayan salt wall to benefit the respiratory system. Treatment-wise, you can’t go wrong with one of The Spa’s signature massages, including the aromatherapy option which uses Swedish expert Kerstin Florian’s essential blends.

Mokara Spa at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa

Barton Creek
A 13,000-square-foot spa retreat out in the woods, just 20 minutes drive from downtown? Sign us up! Mokara Spas can be found at a bunch of Omni’s but this one has got perfect Hill Country views by the poolside. In addition, spa amenities include a relaxation lounge, steam room, sauna, and indoor heated whirlpool, while the treatment list features a full body balance ritual that incorporates CBD scrub, wrap, scalp serum, and massage. Mokara also has an excellent cafe serving healthy and nutritious meals.

Verbena Spa

Downtown
One of the smaller spas in town, Verbena offers a spa treatment like no other: the Tequila massage. You’ll start with an (optional) sip of Casa del Sol Blanco tequila to ignite fire to your senses, then a short meditation reflection, before a full body massage using the healing oils of agave and tequila. Verbena can be found at the chic Proper Hotel on 2nd Street.

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James Wong is a contributor for Thrillist.

Lifestyle

The Best New Bookstores in LA are Curated, Specific, and Personal

Discover a new favorite book, join a book club, and maybe even do some karaoke at the new wave of LA bookshops.

Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby's Bookshop
Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop
Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop

A couple of years ago, the legendary Powell’s Books in Portland released a perfume designed to evoke the smell of a bookstore. The scent has notes of wood, violet, and the lovely and unusually precise word biblichor, the particular aroma of old books. The reality of the scent is what it is-mostly sweet and floral-but more important is the imagery it conjures. The best bookstores are both cozy and mysterious, familiar and surprising, with endless potential for discovery.

Los Angeles has a wealth of independent book sellers, including beloved legacy shops like The Last Bookstore, The Iliad, and Chevalier’s. But a new wave of bookstores has been growing over the last few years, shops that eschew the traditional one-of-everything mindset to focus on specificity, curation, and point of view. There are bookstores with themes, bookstores that double as event spaces, bookstores that reflect their neighbourhoods, bookstores that take inspiration from a specific person-whether that’s the shop owner, a historical figure, or a little bit of both-and so many more.

Like the niche-ification of the internet and the culture at large, these new and new-ish bookstores provide a space to discover books, ideas, and perspectives led by an expert, the kind of things that you may never have found on your own. They can also be a safe harbour for pure nerdiness, a place to dive deep into your favourite category or cause. To help you on your way, we’ve put together a list of some of the best new bookstores in LA, with a focus on curated shops with their own specific perspectives.

Photo courtesy of Octavia's Bookshelf
Photo courtesy of Octavia’s Bookshelf
Photo courtesy of Octavia’s Bookshelf

Octavia’s Bookshelf

Pasadena
Pasadena is a famously book-friendly city, with bookstore royalty in the form of legendary Vroman’s and its own literary alliance. Now it has one of the most exciting new bookstores too. Octavia’s Bookshelf is owner Nikki High’s tribute to the science fiction master Octavia E. Butler, who was a Pasadena native herself. The name of the shop provides a clue into High’s inspiration, titles she imagines Butler would have had on her shelves, with a focus on BIPOC authors. The storefront is small, but the collection is impeccably curated and the space is cozy and welcoming for readers of all backgrounds.

Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop
Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop
Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop

North Figueroa Bookshop

Highland Park
Vertical integration can be a beautiful thing, especially when it allows independent creators more control over their products. The new North Figueroa Bookshop is a shining example of the concept, a storefront built on a collaboration between two publishers, Rare Bird and Unnamed Press. North Fig features titles from those presses, of course, including lots of striking literary fiction and memoir, but it also features a curated collection of other books. They’ve made it a point of emphasis to serve the needs of the local Highland Park, Glassell Park, Cypress Park, and Eagle Rock community-there’s lots of fiction from fellow independent publishers, other general interest titles with a focus on California history and literature, and plenty of Spanish-language books.

Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby's Bookshop
Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop
Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop

Zibby’s Bookshop

Santa Monica
Speaking of vertical integration, there’s another new combined publisher and bookstore on the other side of town. Zibby’s Bookshop is the brainchild of Zibby Owens, Sherri Puzey, and Diana Tramontano, and it’s the physical home of Zibby Books, a literary press that releases one featured book a month. That system is designed so that each book gets the full attention and resources of the press. Owens is an author, podcaster, and book-fluencer, and she has become something of a lit-world mogul with a magazine, podcast network, event business, and an education platform too. The shop has a unique sorting system, built around a feeling for each book-in store many of the shelves are labelled by interest or personality type, like “For the foodie,” or “For the pop culture lover.” On their webshop, you can browse for books that make you cry, escape, laugh, lust, or tremble. There are recommendations from Owens and the staff, sections for local authors, family dramas, and books that have just been optioned. If this all seems a little overwhelming, you should probably avoid the section dedicated to books that make you anxious.

The Salt Eaters Bookshop

Inglewood
Inglewood native Asha Grant opened The Salt Eaters Bookshop in 2021 with a mission in mind-to centre stories with protagonists who are Black girls, women, femme, and/or gender-nonconforming people. Over the last year and change that it’s been open, it has also become a community hub, a place for Inglewood locals and people from across town to drop in, to see what’s new and to discover incredible works in the Black feminist tradition. They also host regular events like readings, discussions, and parties.

Lost Books

Montrose
Thankfully, legendary downtown bookshop The Last Bookstore’s name is hyperbole, and owners Josh and Jenna Spencer have even gone so far as to open a second shop, Lost Books in Montrose. Instead of the technicolour whimsy of the book tunnel at The Last Bookstore, Lost Books has a tunnel of plants that welcomes you into the shop, which opened in the summer of 2021. They sell those plants in addition to books, and coffee and vinyl too, which makes Lost Books a lovely destination and a fun little surprise in the quaint foothill town just off the 2 freeway.

Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe
Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe
Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe

Stories Books & Cafe

Echo Park
Ok, this one is fudging the criteria a little-Stories has been open for almost 15 years. But over those years the shop has become a pillar of Echo Park community life, hosting readings, discussions, and events, and their cafe tables function as a de facto office for about half of the neighbourhood on any given afternoon. After the tragic recent passing of co-owner and Echo Park fixture Alex Maslansky it seemed like the shop’s future was in doubt, but thankfully after a brief hiatus co-owner and co-founder Claudia Colodro and the staff were able to band together to reopen and keep the beloved cafe and bookstore going strong.

Page Against the Machine

Long Beach
The name alone makes it clear what you’re getting at Page Against the Machine-revolutionary progressive books, with a collection centred on activist literature, socially conscious writing, and a whole lot of political history. The shop itself is small but the ideas are grand, with fiction by writers like Richard Wright, Colson Whitehead, and Albert Camus next to zines about gentrification and compendia of mushroom varieties. They also host regular readings and discussions.

Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte
Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte
Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte

Re/Arte Centro Literario

Boyle Heights
Boyle Heights has its own small but mighty combined bookstore, art gallery, gathering space, and small press in Viva Padilla’s Re/Arte. Padilla is a poet, translator, editor, and curator, and as a South Central LA native and the child of Mexican immigrants, she’s focused on Chicanx and Latinx art, literature, and social criticism. Re/Arte’s collection has a wide range of books, from classic Latin American literature to modern essays and everything in between. Re/Arte is also now the headquarters for sin cesar, a literary journal that publishes poetry, fiction, and essays from Black and Brown writers. There are always community-focused events happening too, from regular open mics and zine workshops to film screenings and more.

The Book Jewel

Westchester
Most bookshops host events, but few host them with the regularity of The Book Jewel, the two- year-old independent bookstore in Westchester. Their calendar is so full with readings, several different book clubs, signings, and meet and greets that there are sometimes multiple events on the same day. The shop also hosts a ton of family-focused readings, with regular storytime on Sunday mornings often followed by a talk with the author. It’s a great fit for the relatively low-key (but not exactly quiet) suburban neighbourhood, and it’s no coincidence that storytime lines up with the Westchester Farmers Market, which takes place right out front.

Reparations Club

West Adams
Most bookstores lean into coziness, aiming to be a hideaway for some quiet contemplation or maybe a quick sotto voce chat-not so at Reparations Club, the exuberant and stylish concept bookshop and art space on Jefferson. Owner and founder Jazzi McGilbert and her staff have built a beautiful and vibrant shop full of art from Black artists, including books but also records, candles, incense, clothing, and all sorts of fun things to discover. There’s a perfect seating area to sit and hang out for a while, and they host a range of wild and fun events from readings to happy hours, panel discussions to karaoke nights and more.

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Ben Mesirow is a Staff Writer at Thrillist.

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