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Shangri-La's Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, DunHua S. Rd., Sec. 2, No. 201
This ultra-posh 40th floor spa offers lavish aromatherapy treatments and gorgeous views.
Spring City Resort
YouYa Rd., No. 18
Mountainside hot springs resort with a wide range of outdoor pools.
SweetMe Hotspring Resort
GuangMing Rd., No. 224
Small, minimalist hot springs spa and hotel with Roman bath-style pools.
The Spa at Villa 32
Zhongshan Rd., No. 32
Exclusive resort with public and private hot springs, elegant gardens, and a full spa.
If someone says "Taipei" and you hear "Type A" (yes, the high-strung personality type...) it might be time to chill out a bit. As in: head to the spa! Traipsing around the city can definitely leave your nerves and your muscles in a twist, but the many different types of healing touch in Taipei's spa culture are sure to work out the kinks.
For the ultimate soothing spa experience in Taipei, one need look no farther than the caress of Mother Nature. The island of Taiwan is endowed with bountiful, natural high-temperature hot springs, and bathing in the restorative waters has become a national pastime. On the outskirts of Taipei, the BeiTou and Yangmingshan districts both offer resorts with public pools and private suites for immersing in the mineral baths (though we much prefer the chic offerings of BeiTou to the touristy ones in Yangmingshan). SweetMe Hotspring Resort sidesteps the tour group throngs with its small, minimalist hotel and elegant Roman-style bathing pools. Villa 32 is the swankiest of the hot spring resorts in BeiTou with jewel-toned communal pools (Azure, Jade, Crystal), private spa suites with glass ceilings for nighttime star gazing, and a posh five-room boutique hotel with a full-service spa (more on that later).
After the gentle, relaxing embrace of warm mineral pools, adjusting to typical spa treatments back in the city may come as a bit of a shock to the system. The most popular forms of massage in Taipei–tui na and reflexology (foot massage)–are likely to rough you up, but all in the name of radiant health. Tui na (literally translated as "push/pull") involves kneading of the muscles to clear any blockages and get energy flowing through the body properly. And "no pain, no gain" is the reigning reflexology philosophy: you'll feel sharp aches during the treatment as the reflexologist encounters points of blockage (different places on the foot are thought to correspond to different organs in the body) but supremely relaxed afterwards. Reflexology is so ubiquitous that you'll see it being practiced around town at the different Night Markets (USD 15-30 for a 1 hour treatment), but if you'd rather suffer through the pain in private, certified professionals offer services in clinical settings.
If you just can't take the ache, though, seek out a more pampering experience at one of Taipei's luxury spas, where even traditional treatments on the whole tend to be more soothing and less "medicinal"–an East meets West approach. In BeiTou, we're partial to the full-service Spa at Villa 32. Open to non-hotel guests, the spa affords access not only to the resort's luscious hot spring pools (for a fee) and Eastern-infused treatments, but also to swish Westernized amenities like personal aroma butlers and Dermalogica products. Back in the city, the private Sheraton Taipei club (open only to guests of the Sheraton Taipei Hotel and club members) is worth a mention for its delicious steam room, sauna, and whirlpool facilities and lovely, if small, rooftop pool.
But perhaps our favorite full-service spot in town is the Horizon Spa at the Shangri-La's Far Eastern Plaza Hotel (open to non-hotel guests and very Westerner friendly). We love the plush private suites, sumptuous treatments (each incorporating aromatherapy), and gorgeous city views with the mountains in the backdrop. As you give yourself over to the state of utter bliss induced by the signature Chakra Massage, you might just be moved to declare yourself a Type B.
Photo of Villa 32