Ommm! 10 Ways To Relax In S.F. On A Tight Budget

When you look up "balance" in the dictionary, it's likely that our calm city is sitting pretty as a poster child for mastering the art of zen. Our healthy, sometimes hippie-dippy outlook on life is what makes the city such a desirable place to live. But when was the last time you actually took a spa day? Seriously, the stress in our lives and on our wallets can throw a major roadblock on our quest for inner peace.
At twenty bucks a class, even yoga can seem like a luxury! But, not to worry, dear readers — we’ve scoured this hilly town for affordable solutions in order to clue you in to 10 super-secret spa-like services that won’t break the bank. And, while trying something cheap and under the radar can sometimes be sketchy, trust us — these treatments and activities will take you (and your savings account) from blah to ahh in no time!
The Pool At Hotel Nikko
Dying to hit the pool and bask in a little patch of sunshine on an outdoor patio? Same here. Thankfully, Hotel Nikko opens up its bright and airy atrium pool to locals for a cool 20 bucks. Max and relax on one of the many lounge chairs, do some laps to burn off steam, or warm up in the whirlpool. No matter what the weather’s like outside, this water lover’s day pass will have you zenned out in no time.
Price: $20 for day use.
Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason Street (between Ellis and O’Farrell streets); 415-394-1111.

Full-Body Massage At Wonderfoot Health Center

If you’re looking for day-spa ambience, let’s start by saying this is probably not for you. But, if you’re ready for someone to really get in there, Wonderfoot is tops in our book. This teeny-tiny spot in the Richmond has small rooms with massage recliners and is all business when it comes to working magic on your pressure points — from your forehead to your toes! Are your tootsies hurting from the daily torture of heels and hills? Then you're in luck — of the 70-minute massage, 30 minutes are devoted entirely on your feet. A bonus: You can usually call a few hours ahead and get booked on the same day. (Insider tip: Clothes stay on, so wear a dress or skirt and a baggy shirt for easy access to feet, legs, and shoulders.)

Price: $39.99 for a 70-minute full-body massage.

Wonderfoot Health Center, 514 27th Avenue (between Anza Street and Geary Boulevard); 415-933-8871.

Traditional Thai Massage

There is no shortage of Thai massage joints in the city, but we’re head-over-heels with two locations that are guaranteed not to break your back — or the bank — when wringing all that tension out of you. No matter what side of the city you’re on, there’s a place for you: La Biang is located on the edge of the Tenderloin, while the Mission spot, La Nee, is on the far end of Valencia. The environment is warm and welcoming, and the practitioners are well versed in traditional Thai techniques, like the release-junkie's fave: Walking on your back. Ommmm-G, this one is heaven.

Price: $30 for 30 minutes, $55 for 60 minutes, and $80 for 90 minutes.

La Biang Thai Massage, 1301 Polk Street (between Bush and Austin streets); 415-931-7692.

La Nee Thai Massage, 1453 Valencia Street (between 26th and 25th streets); 415-282-2236.


Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Nikko


Donation-Based Yoga

When times are tight, sometimes our favorite serenity splurges like daily yoga tend to get the ax in turn for a DIY sesh. (But let’s be real, who really does yoga at home?) Luckily, the city has tons of options for us cash-strapped yogis, from free to donation-based. On Sundays at 11 a.m., there is free yoga in Dolores Park; Yoga Tree in the Mission has donation classes on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at 6 p.m.; Yoga To The People is known for their cheap classes throughout the week for a donation of $10; and Urban Flow turns out some free Yoga For Beginners every Friday at 3 p.m.

Yoga Tree Mission, 1234 Valencia Street (between 24th and 23rd streets); 415)-647-9707.

Yoga To The People, 2973 16th Street, 5th Floor (between Mission Street and South Van Ness Avenue); 917-573-9642.

Urban Flow Yoga, 1543 Mission Street, 2nd Floor (between 11th and Lafayette streets); 415-355-9642.

Body Scrub And Oil Massage At Imperial Day Spa

You know that super sketchy looking spa occupying the corner of the strip-mall on to KFC and Taco Bell? Well, turns out it’s actually a hidden beauty gem. The Imperial Spa’s traditional Korean communal bathhouse is equipped with hot and cold pools, steam, and clay sauna but its main focus is scrubbing your sweet skin back to baby-smooth status in a little over an hour. This real-deal rejuvenation concludes with an oil massage so be prepared to be laid out and scrubbed, rubbed, and smacked (in the best way possible) in a room with other women. Warning: Bathing suits are welcomed but this is mostly a full-frontal facility.

Price: $90 for 80 minutes and includes access to the baths.

Imperial Day Spa, 1875 Geary Blvd (between Steiner and Fillmore streets); 415-771-1114.


Elisa’s Hot Tub And Massage

A secret spot in Noe Valley: Tucked away from the street is the old-school Elisa’s Hot Tub And Massage. Mostly known for its outdoor hot tub, Elisa’s is a locals-only refuge to unwind and de-stress from the day — or night! The private whirlpool is one of the only outdoor tubs open to the public in the city, includes access to a dry sauna, and is open until 11 p.m. Insider tip: Bring a buddy and some music to really turn up the heated jungle-like ambience in the evening.

Price: Early bird special 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. $18 per person, after 3 p.m. $20 per person (two person minimum), and $28 for a single person.

Elisa’s Hot Tub And Massage, 4028 A 24th Street (between Noe and Castro streets); 415-821-6727.

Yoga Tree photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile

The Shooting Star At EvanStar Spa

Nestled in Lower Pac Heights, EvanStar is a holistic skin care studio run by Marissa Ryan. This unassuming hole-in-the-wall offers a bounty of massage and beautifying services, but the cheapie du jour is the Shooting Star facial. This “wish come true” is 45 minutes of bliss, featuring a double cleanse, exfoliation, mild peel, soothing serums, a nutritive mask, and cooling collagen eye gels. The buck doesn't stop there — a bonus shoulder and neck massage is tossed in for good measure.

Price: $65 for 45 minutes.

EvanStar Spa, 1908 Divisadero Street (between Pine and California streets); 415-923-9189.


The Lounge At SenSpa

If you’re looking to get off the map (literally, it is way out there), head over to the Presidio and find solace in the wellness warehouse that is SenSpa. While services are a little pricey, you can don a cozy robe, hit the eucalyptus steam room, and clock in some serious stress release in the gorgeous lounge area. The organic snacks and fashion glossies run aplenty, so you may not want to leave…ever.

Price: $25 for day use Monday through Friday.

SenSpa, 1161 Gorgas Avenue (between Girard Road and Lyon Street); 415-441-1777.

Photo: Courtesy of EvanStar

The Communal Baths At Kabuki Springs And Spa

The Japanese public baths at Kabuki Springs And Spa are definitely on the hardcore zen chasers rotation regularly. This heavenly hotspot bodes two pools — hot and cold — traditional and modern showers, a serious steam room, and a sauna that will have you drifting oh so far away from any stress that may be plaguing you. The quiet time soaking, steaming, and sauna-ing will help you connect with your inner peace while refreshing your body in the process. The communal baths are women only on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and co-ed on Tuesdays. Again, not for the timid and shy — bathing suits are mandatory on co-ed days but not common the rest of the time.

Price: $22 Monday through Friday and $25 on weekends for day use.

Kabuki Springs And Spa, 1750 Geary Blvd (between Webster and Fillmore streets); 415-922-6000.

The Collagen Ultrasound Facial At Natural Wonder Face And Body

We were tipped off to this place by an S.F. native who knows a thing or two about rocking an eternally youthful appearance (we’re looking at you, Jenny Chung!). We have to say, this place is an absolute game changer. You’d have no idea from the outside, but behind the Shiseido-lined walls sits a A-team ready to roll out some serious skin care. The Collagen Ultrasound facial is 90 minutes of pure perfection, which starts of with steam and extraction, followed by a gentle exfoliation and collagen mask. The mask is a hydration genius, worked into the skin with an ultrasound tool and followed by an amazing face massage.The chest and neck massage don’t hurt, either! And, at 90 bucks for a 90 minute intensive procedure, this is a must on our list.

Price: $90 for a 90 minute facial.

Natural Wonder Face And Body, 2300 Clement Street (between 24th and 25th avenues); 415-933-8999.

Photo: Courtesy of Kabuki Springs And Spa

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