After doing a very small amount of research into where to spa in San Francisco, I thought I’d pay a visit to SenSpa in the Presidio. Their photos presented a warm and inviting space in what seemed to be a large facility.
I had to Uber over to the Presidio and when we drove up I was confused — we were in the middle of a bunch of old-timey warehouses. They weren’t dilapidated or anything, they were just warehouses. I was looking for a resort-like spa oasis.
The outside of the building belies what’s inside. SenSpa sits inside a former army ammunition warehouse. Inside it has been transformed into a resort-like sanctuary of well-being, offering massage, acupuncture, skin care, naturopathic medicine, group party workshops and some light fare in their café.
There’s a huge retail area to keep you lingering. Browse through lots of high end spa products, clothing, accessories and some local goodies. The café features organic cuisine from Bay Area favorites Presidio Foods Catering, Flour Craft Bakery, and Matanzas Creek Winery (Sonoma). Before, during or after your spa visit, you can enjoy a selection of salads, sandwiches, grain dishes and tasty sweets with vegan and gluten-free options. Being so close to wine country, it makes sense that they also offer wines from Sonoma.
There are two coed lounges inside this historical building. One of them is enclosed, making it a quiet, cozy space. Both lounges encourage silent meditation. My first impression was that the overall design and décor was very masculine, and that guys would love this place. And sure enough, there were a few male spa-goers who looked very content that day.
There was an infrared sauna you could use, which you have to book in advance because it’s very small. I’m an average-sized person and there’s just room for one person to sit comfortably, or to lay down with your legs and feet at a 90-degree angle to your body. I didn’t try the eucalyptus steam room but it looked decent enough. The locker area was pretty decently-sized, and the spa attendants were little Filipino ladies who followed me around and cleaned up after me.
Massage and Body Treatments
I got the Island Indulgence (90 minutes, $240) and half-hour FAR infrared sauna ($35 with treatment). The description was: “Delight in the scents, sounds and Mana (energy) of the islands through this powerful service. Ground the body with inhalations of Ylang-Ylang followed by an invigorating lemongrass body scrub with heated stones. Savor a Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage followed by a soothing scalp and foot treatment, connecting you to the healing powers of Aina (Mother Earth).”
This was a very gentle and relaxing treatment, and used a lot of scents that I really liked. Although the website (at the time) said they use Jasmine oil, they did not. I would have been surprised if they did, as real Jasmine oil is very pricey. Instead they used ylang ylang.
And even though the description claimed it was a Hawaiian Lomi Lomi, it wasn’t a true Lomi. (read about other Lomi Lomi massages we’ve had) The therapist said it was “lomi inspired” massage and when I asked her what the difference was, she explained that real lomi lomi practitioners train for years in Hawaii, as it is not just about the massage techniques — it is equally about grounding both client and practitioner. So this was a lovely treatment that used nice products. Afterwards my skin was soft and polished, I smelled nice, covered with one of my favorite scents, and I was relaxed.
There was a brief scalp massage included in the treatment. Although it was short, it was pretty good. It wasn’t the best one I’ve ever had, but it was decent.
The only part I didn’t enjoy was that at one point, the therapist massaged over my throat. She should have known better than to massage my throat as there are no muscles over your windpipe, even I know that.
Everybody was super friendly at SenSpa — from the front desk to the attendants. The massage therapist had a nice energy and she gave me some suggestions for places to buy essential oil, and other suggested uses for certain oils to help me with some minor skin problems I was having. So at the very least, she was knowledgeable about the products she was putting on my body, which I always appreciate.
Although it’s probably a 20-minute drive from SF proper (Embarcadero, Union Square) SenSpa has a decent variety of treatments, a relaxing atmosphere and staff that are knowledgeable in holistic/naturopathic medicine, making the trip out there worth it if you are looking for expertise in that area combined with spa services. It is a true wellness center, though it would be great if they had more spa facilities (more infrared saunas or a Finnish sauna, hot tubs) in this 13,000 square-foot space.
- Eucalyptus steam room
- Swiss showers
- Co-ed relaxation lounges
- FAR Infrared Sauna
$$$$ = Pricey
1161 Gorgas Avenue
San Francisco, CA, 94129
HOURS OF OPERATION
Monday – Friday: 10AM – 8PM (doors open 9:30am)
Saturday and Sunday: 9AM – 8PM (doors open 8:30am)
HOW TO BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
You can book your service online or call the spa at 415-441-1777.