Heaven at Haven

Heaven at Haven

A treatment room at Haven Spa

When a press rep extends an invitation to a harried editor with a perpetually tight back to experience a "Geek Massage," designed to alleviate stress and tightness from too many hours behind a computer screen, it is impossible to say no. In hindsight, I discovered it was also a great introduction to Haven Spa, an intimate, pretty spa located in the heart of SoHo. Getting off of the "6" subway train, I walked down Mercer St. into a subterranean shop with a reception area made cheerful by a comfy couch, a colorful array of products for sale (from skincare treatments to gluten-free sugar cookies) and two warm and welcoming receptionists. I was led back to the locker room (unisex!) and given a thick robe and flip-flops to change into while I awaited my treatment. The small lounge area, with grey suede couches, offers up beverages and cranberry-granola squares while you wait for your masseuse, in my case, the St. Petersburg-born Lara, who greeted me with a warm hug. Once we were in the massage room, Lara spent an unusually long time asking me what my typical day looked like, what I was hoping to get out of this service and then explaining something fascinating: women, she said, tend to hunch over more than men, perhaps a biological impulse based on protecting their chest and front area, while men tended to be more "strutters," flexing their chest outwards. It sounded like a fascinating theory that I was ready to buy into, especially when Lara explained that most of the work would be very targeted to the back, neck and arm areas, those regions that will allow my torso to expand, relax and be reinvigorated. She then proceeded with the treatment. I honestly don't believe I ever had work done on my back this extensively: Lara repeatedly attacked specific pressure points, kneading, massaging, stretching; at one point she inserted some sort of wedge under my shoulders, allowing her more range of motion to work on my neck, back and arms. She finished up with stretching my arms and legs and then placed her hands firmly on my forehead in a deep, meditative gesture that sent me even further into the zone before ending the session.

By the end of an hour (was it just an hour? I felt like I had been in lala land for the weekend), I could not believe the level of relaxation and expansion I  felt within my body. Easily relaxed enough to move onto shopping in the Versace and Vera Wang boutiques down the block with nary a care in the world.  Happiest one-hour haven I've ever experienced.

» Haven Spa, 150 Mercer St., 212.343.3515