Editor’s Note: Spa Guru reviewed Spa Vitale quite differently in 2014, and you can read her review here.
San Francisco’s Hotel Vitale was ranked among the best business hotels of 2014 by Five Star Alliance and is marketed as a luxury hotel that combines the natural beauty of its’ waterfront location on the Embarcadero with the modern luxury of San Francisco’s Downtown.
Its’ proximity to the Financial District makes it popular with the business crowd, while the easy accessibility of gourmet shops, the historic Ferry building, and loads of different transport options – from old trolley cars to cable cars and bay ferries – attracts tourists as well.
Right at the top of the Hotel Vitale you’ll find Spa Vitale, which offers three treatment rooms with spectacular city and water views and – its best feature – outdoor deep soaking tubs.
The spa is really just a great big suite on the top floor of the hotel. It has three treatment rooms and two bathtubs outside on the patio. And that’s it. There’s nothing else to it – no sauna, no steam room, no Jacuzzi. There’s barely any retail, and there aren’t any lockers. I had to put my clothes and belongings in a massage room that wasn’t being used.
Massage and Body Treatments
I chose three treatments – the Signature Bathing Ritual, From The Crown On Down and Splash of Extras Soothing Neck and Scalp.
The Bathing Ritual is designed to renew body and soul, and relax you in preparation for additional treatments. Since this spa doesn’t have any other facilities like a sauna, steam room or Jacuzzi, it was the closest thing I could get to deep heating my muscles before my massage.
The bathing area was very private, with tall bamboo plants to shield bathers from prying eyes. I have to say I thought it was really cool to sit in a hot bath, outside on a rooftop in San Francisco. It was very luxurious alone time. You can hear a lot of street noise, but it never got so bad as to be unbearable or distracting.
When I arrived at my tub, it had been set up really nicely, with hot tea and ice water (with strawberries), a bit of fruit, and a cold towel infused with relaxing essential oils. The water was nice and hot, and had some bath salts added beforehand. The bath did work to help me decompress and prepare my muscles for a massage. And even though it was cold outside, at one point I felt too hot and had to get out.
My massage room had a view of the water and the Oakland Bay Bridge, which was cool. The massage was described as “the royal treatment” and “begins by anointing the crown chakra with essential oils. Aromatherapy prepares your senses to receive a luxurious scalp massage using scalp reflex points. To help you reach a sedated state-of mind we lay hot, authentic, small, river rocks along your chakra points. The warmth and weight of the rocks encourage you to reconnect with other parts of your body, inside and out. Aromatic towels are used to cleanse your hands and feet before they are kneaded and massaged into buttery softness. This treatment uses light-touch massage therapy.”
It sounded like a good combination of Reiki, hot stone massage, traditional massage, aromatherapy and reflexology. I was intrigued by the whole chakra balancing process, and since San Francisco is a bit hippy, I figured it was worth a try.
Turned out I was wrong.
Stones were indeed placed on some parts of the front of my body, but not along my spine. I’m familiar with chakras, and have gone through chakra balancing before, so I knew generally where they should go. The therapist placed three stones on my torso and chest, and that was it. I’m pretty sure that my crown chakra was not anointed with frankincense at the start of the process (as advertised), and while lemon-infused hot towels were used during the treatment, they were not used on my hands and feet – which were actually completely ignored.
To be fair, the therapist did ask if there were any areas of concern that she should focus on. I told her that my forearms, neck and shoulders were particularly bad, and she did pay a decent amount of attention to these areas. However, while I think it’s great that therapists ask you if you want an area to receive particular attention, I don’t think that it should affect the overall quality or process of the massage.
In the end, only some of her attention was deep enough to make any kind of difference in my problem spots. So, some of it was good, some of it was just ok.
The neck and scalp massage was an add-on, which, at $85 for 25 minutes – was ridiculously pricey. I didn’t get anywhere my money’s worth. I barely got a scalp massage, which was the part I was looking forward to the most. I guess she focused more on my neck, which again, to be fair, I asked her to pay more attention to.
On the whole, I did like the massage but it felt like my therapist really only paid lip service to whole chakra theme. She put the stones there to say she did the treatment but otherwise, it was not really a serious chakra treatment. It felt gimmicky.
I really felt more thought and intention could have been put into the design of my treatment, and my therapist could have actually carried out the treatments in the way they were described.
I also have to mention the front desk service. The young woman working there seemed new, confused, insecure and out of her depth. She was barely professional, and sounded more like a shy teenager doing a speech in front of her class than a spa representative. When it came to checking out, she couldn’t do this properly because she couldn’t figure out the system, and there was nobody around to help her.
When I got back to my room after my treatments, I got a confused call from her, during which she asked me a few, very muddled questions because our confused checkout process wasn’t complete. There were several awkward silences when she was clearly trying to do or think about something else.
This spa is an alright option if you are staying at the Hotel Vitale and desperately need a massage or want to hop in a rooftop bath with to someone you don’t mind bathing next to. Otherwise, it’s not great value for money and their service offerings (other than the bath) aren’t that special or particularly well executed.
- 3 treatment rooms
- 2 rooftop baths
$$$$ = Pricey
The Hotel Vitale (8th floor)
8 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94105
SPA HOURS OF OPERATION
Open daily: 10am – 8pm