While in Switzerland last year, I was introduced to one of the worlds top Spa consultants and over an interesting exchange, he offered me several insider tips on city spas around the globe. And so when I was last visiting San Francisco based on his recommendation, I took the opportunity to visit the International Orange Spa on Fillmore Street, located in Pacific Heights and close to Union Square.
International Orange Spa – whats in a name
International Orange is in fact the name for the colour of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, which I discovered when I was on a photography tour of San Francisco. Apparently the orange vermilion shade was chosen because it complimented the nearby surroundings and was also visible in the city’s famous morning fog. How or why the Spa is similarly named, I have yet to find out but perhaps given its location and city vibe, its as good a kinship as any. The spa or IO, as its known locally, offers yoga, body treatments, a well stocked shop and a zen relaxation area. As I chatted with the receptionist, it seemed to be full of health conscious regulars with greetings floating over my head as those in the know came and went with casual ease.
A cure for jet lag
Having just gotten off a 10 hour flight from Dublin my priority was to sooth the muscle aches in my lower back as well as to stay awake as long as possible and adjust to the new time zone. My personal battle with jet lag has, over time taken on epic proportions. I will go to extraordinary lengths to keep it at bay, given the frequency of my travel and the debilitation of my predicament. And so while every bone in my body wanted to crawl off to bed, I was determined to flag an Uber and check out the International Orange Spa, as apparently a massage can really help with resetting your internal body clock. I had opted for a signature deep tissue massage with a twist. My affection for aromatic smells led me to book their ‘in-fiore‘ addition basically meaning that the massage oil would be infused with a scent from an exotic sounding list of balms such as Bois de Rose, Dayala, Shevanti, and Tangiers… I thought why not be expertly massaged into a cloud of deliciousness for additional oomph.
After been shown the lockers (standard metal ones) and offered a robe and slippers, I was instructed to wait for my therapist in the quiet relaxation area, which included a large sign over chilled water to ‘Be Wellthy’. My therapist soon arrived and steered me into a treatment room with the air of someone who was familiar with the drill. We settled on lavender from the ‘in-fiore’ menu and she quickly got down to business, kneading my tired muscles with surprising expertise. Her fingers seemed to be like mincers and steadily begun to unbind my cramped shoulder blades and lower back with a series of deep adjustments. I drifted into a semi awake state, aware that I was being massaged but suspended in a fog of aromatic bliss. As my treatment wore on, my battle with jet lag started to fail, with my body still on Irish time. I was just on the precipice of falling into a very deep sleep, when I felt a hot towel being applied to my feet, signalling the end of the treatment. All too soon, it felt like I was been ushered out of the room, back to reality. I barely knew who I was or where I was, as I stumbled out of the busy locker rooms and down into a waiting taxi. When I reached my hotel, I crawled zombie like to my room and fell into one of the deepest, loveliest sleeps you could ever possibly hope to achieve in a hotel bed! The moral of the story, always take tips on spas from those in the know!!
International Orange Spa, 2044 Fillmore Street, 2nd floor, San Francisco, CA94115