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While you're there for this pre-wedding debauchery, you'll drink a lot, probably wear a bandage dress (or matching bandage dresses) and a novelty penis necklace, and puke at least once. But why does celebrating the upcoming loving union between two people have to be so unhealthy? Besides free-flowing drinks and scantily clad people everywhere, Vegas also has a thriving spa culture. You should take two hours to explore it with the group and give your poor livers a break. Or not. Spas serve champagne!
There are more civilized – yet still decadent – options available other than spending $20 per person plus drinks to sweat out alcohol and fight off sketchy dudes at a day club. I recently did heavy spa immersion in Vegas and came up with a list of places to go at all price points and for all types of detoxification. You can spring for a treatment, a private suite, or take advantage of spa day passes and get a relaxing experience for a fraction of the price.
Pre-game at a spa in Vegas, right this way:
Cleanse, But Actually
Vegas can make you feel dirty, both figuratively and literally, so grab the ladies and scrub off all the gunk at Sahra Spa and Hammam at the Cosmopolitan. This spa is pretty high end, but also unique among many of its competitors because it offers traditional hammam cleansing, which usually features scrubbing and exfoliation. The Soap Ritual (at $185, it's the least expensive option in the hammam) has you lying mostly naked with strategically placed towels on a giant heated stone slab while a manservant-esque guy in a sarong scrubs you with an exfoliating mitt, suds you up with aromatic soap, dumps water all over you, then provides a lovely rubdown with a rich moisturizing butter. I felt like Khaleesi afterwards, ready to walk through some flames. It's an ideal treatment for a group because the room and stone are huge and there are various tubs and heated stone loungers all over.
Bonus: Sahra also has the best spa snack I encountered. In addition to the usual nuts and dried fruit, squares of 60% cacao dark chocolate were placed all over the lounge area, and I possibly indulged in more than was strictly therapeutic. If you feel too healthy after all that cleansing, the Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan is a lovely place to have a drink afterwards.
Get Salty and Breathe Easier
The newest thing in spas lately is Himalayan salt caves, also called halotherapy, a ritual people have indulged in for hundreds of years. You sit on a relaxing lounger in a room full of salt blocks, piles of salt, and vaporized salt, all of which supposedly help to clear out your lungs and sinuses. While research about the benefits of halotherapy are inconclusive, people swear by it, and unlike eating a bowl of salt and vinegar potato chips, there's certainly no harm in it.
Since Vegas is one of the few places in the country where people can smoke inside, my lungs and nose felt clogged with toxic waste by my fourth day there. I headed to the Linq, which has the best day pass spa deal in Vegas. For $40 each ($30 if you're staying at the Linq) you get access to the salt cave (it seats two at a time and needs to be booked in advance), whirlpools, a eucalyptus steam room, and a lounge area complete with fancy tea. I sat in the salt room for 45 minutes on the most comfortable lounge chair I've ever sat in and read the New Yorker. Afterwards I took a steam and dipped in the pool, and I swear my nose felt less stuffy and I was mentally calmer and ready to face the fake Elvises again. The only sign that I'd been breathing salt for almost an hour was a bit of a taste in my mouth and slightly-shriveled lips, like when you swim in the ocean.
I'm So Fancy
If you appreciate an impeccable spa experience and are willing to pay up for some luxury, the Mandarin Oriental spa is not to be missed. First of all, the hotel is in itself is an oasis because there's no casino and it's blessedly smoke free. The spa can arrange a group experience for you in its hammam, or bring the party champagne and bites in the spa area, which is intimate and beautiful. I really appreciated the fact that it was small, because so many spas in Vegas are huge and mazelike; this one feels special because it isn't. It also has one of the best whirlpools I tried in Vegas, featuring underwater loungers with perfectly placed jets to massage your back and legs. You can also hit up a couple different steam rooms and a shower that you can program to feel like "tropical rain," "arctic mist," or an "island storm." Gimmicky, but I still tried all the different shower climates. Day passes cost $100 per day per person, or $60 per day if you're staying at the hotel. The hotel can add on some champagne if you want to just hang out and soak with the group in a quiet setting.
If you really want to burn some cash, try a treatment. Warning: Very few are under $200. I tried the Diamond Brilliant Facial ($400) and it was hands down the best facial I've ever had. I lost count of how many things went onto my face, but they were all luxurious. The therapist also used a microcurrent device on me and I swear that my skin looked lifted and radiant for the next two days. The whole thing ends with a shoulder massage. They had to drag me out of there.
Best Mani/Pedi Ever? Yes
The spa at the Four Seasons, another casino- and smoke-free oasis, is currently being renovated, but the Nail Bar, which is across the hall from the spa, is brand spanking new. I had a mani/pedi there, and it was one of the best I've ever had in my life, and I'm saying this as a person who gets them for a living. The nail bar offers Smith and Cult or Morgan Taylor polishes, both of which you don't see in nail salons very frequently. The service was impeccable and included scrubbing, massaging, and meticulous service. My manicure lasted a whopping eight days, and I had the best cup of coffee there that I had anywhere in Vegas.
For a gaggle, you can either book individual services, which cost anywhere from $75 to $120, or ask about group options which include champagne and treats, ranging in price from $155 per person up to $1,950 total to get the place for six hours with champagne and a range of services. The lobby bar at the Four Seasons is also an ideal place to grab a drink after your nail services before you head out back into the fray.
Most Options For Lounging/Plunging
If you love a good Roman theme, the Qua Baths and Spa at Caesars is the place to be. The spa here is humongous and the pool and steam facilities are ideal for a large group, because there are so many options. Skip a treatment and spring for a day pass, which costs $55 per person on weekdays and $65 per person on weekends, and is slightly cheaper if you're staying in a Caesars property.
There are multiple whirlpools all featuring different temperatures including hot, tepid, and frigid. You can also hit the Laconium for a steam, and for a little bit of Vegas pizzaz, head to the Arctic Ice room, which features an air temperature of 55 degrees, a heated floor and seats, and – wait for it – actual snow. I snuck my phone in there to try to Snapchat it but it was too dark, so you'll just have to experience it in the moment.
Bonus: The Forum Shops in Caesars is my favorite place to shop in Vegas because I love the kitschy Disney-esque Roman theme and fake Trevi Fountain. Also there is an All Saints store there, which is so random but it's one of my favorite stores and always makes me feel more normalized. (Vegas is a very surreal place.)
Best All-Around Spa Experience
The Aria wins for best Vegas spa experience overall. The spa is modern and luxe, and features a few things that the other spas don't, like an outdoor infinity pool on a terrace. This overlooks a rollicking day club, but you can sit smugly up there enjoying a drink and the music and thanking the goddess that you're not in that hot mess. It also has the usual wet areas like whirlpools and steam rooms. Like the Linq, it also features a salt room for pulmonary detoxing, as well as the "Ganbanyoku Heated Stone Beds," which were super popular when I was there. You'd think lying in a room on a stone bed with eight other people wouldn't be that relaxing, but you'd be wrong. The Aria also has an incredible fitness center, which is included in the price of a day pass, if you're that person who works out while in Vegas.
The tricky part, however, is that the Aria apparently knows how awesome its facilities are. You can get a day pass Monday through Thursday for $50, or $40 if you're staying there, but it doesn't offer them on the weekends. If you want to access the spa on the weekend, you have to book a treatment. (A basic massage is $160.) Like all the spas, though, they will work with a larger party to customize something for the group.
Disclosure: All my travel, lodging, and treatments were covered by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.