Living in Los Angeles is a balancing act between the calm and the chaos. While the city has dazzling energy and a fast-paced beat, a crucial aspect of what makes living in California so great is its dedication to zen. As much as I thrive when my calendar is booked and busy, I’ve come to learn that there’s never any judgment in LA if I’m compelled to cancel everything in order to decompress.
It’s fair to say that most Angelenos are bonafide proponents of slowing down and soaking up the laid-back vibes we’re known for around the world. The way we see it, wellness is a way of life. So whether we’re meditating on the beach, paying a visit to a trusted energy healer, or popping into a cryotherapy chamber every chance we get, Angelenos are making this wellness trend part of the culture.
By now, I’ve dabbled in just about everything, and can’t imagine not having access to so many hidden gems and brilliant small businesses that urge you to heal, relax and unwind from head to toe.
Here’s my good-for-you guide for embracing all things wellness and rejuvenation in LA.
Things to know before you go
Timing is everything
Once you’ve narrowed down what you’re looking for in a treatment, book in advance and lock it in ASAP — availability is oftentimes scarce in this overcrowded city. While it may not always be possible, I suggest scheduling an appointment towards the end of the day so you can fully detach and relax. I find that I always sleep so much deeper that night, too.
What to wear
When it comes to wardrobe — pare down and dress comfortably and casually. I always stick to slip-on sneakers or quiet sandals when entering any tranquil studio space. I recommend leaving jewelry and valuables at home, so as not to run the risk of losing or misplacing anything, and skip perfume and heavy makeup for a fuss-free experience that you (and your practitioner) will likely appreciate.
Pro-tip: Prior to any session, I always try to destress and boost my mood by listening to a calming podcast or five-minute meditation in the car en route to the appointment.
How to prepare
Depending on the time of day of your appointment, eat a light meal, drink plenty of water, and skip the caffeine (if it tends to affect you) for an optimal experience. Practice breathwork at home, so it comes naturally when you need to tap into it during a session and take it a step further by downloading meditations to listen to during your daily routine.
Consider investing in an Oura ring to track your sleep cycles, as well as physical and emotional health goals; jot down daily achievements, moments of gratitude, and self-care reminders in The Progress Over Perfection Planner. Skim documentaries like The Goop Lab with Gwyneth Paltrow, (Un)Well, or The Mind Explained on Netflix to expand your knowledge of current wellness trends and fully embrace the woo-woo state of mind.
Writer Jennifer Chan takes a selfie before her treatment at Milk & Honey © Jennifer Chan / Lonely Planet
What to indulge in
Milk + Honey is a one-stop shop that is reliably relaxing every single time. With two locations in LA, this modern haven offers everything from facials, nail care, body treatments and massages. But for a truly decadent experience, you’ve got to try the Spa Partisan treatment. This full-body experience includes dry brushing(an exfoliating treatment using a hard bristle brush), an exfoliating deep scrub, steam, and a signature hour-long massage.
I always feel like a newborn baby after two hours of bliss, and I take my time in the steam shower and relaxation room (where you’ll likely catch me nibbling on dried mango bites or sipping hot tea) before re-entering the real world.
Been a few times
If you’re looking for a thoroughly elevated wellness experience, check out the state-of-the-art sanctuary at Remedy Place, a very sleek, perfectly appointed social wellness club that offers memberships and a la carte services, including infrared sauna, hyperbaric oxygen chamber sessions, vitamin drip IVs, sound baths, cryotherapy, cupping, ice bath classes, and even a mocktail bar to boot.
This slick operation is quite possibly the most LA concept ever, but my best advice is to lean into it and reap the feel-good benefits (including a new skin health partnership with Murad rolling out in November) from all the bells and whistles gorgeously tucked away in here.
I’m feeling a lot more nimble after just one acupuncture session with Dr. Stolberg, who recently treated my chronic knee pain. There’s also highly sought-after chiropractic care available here.
If you’re looking for a fully-immersive woo-woo wonderland adventure, this is quite possibly the most magical of them all. Intomesea in Santa Monica is a sustainably designed mecca of all things wellness and self-healing.
Take your pick from Lucia No.3 Light Therapy (a trippy sequence of flashing white lights believed to naturally take you to a higher state of zen) or soak in a magnificent Galactic Crystal Intention Tub. They say it will help you manifest your dreams whilst benefiting from the electromagnetic energy surrounding you.
I paired the two treatments together for a blissed-out wellness weekend that I can’t stop daydreaming about. Intomesea also offers dry salt therapy, which they claim will detox your lungs from city smog and pollutants, as well as a mesmerizing Labyrinth Studio, which hosts community sound baths and tarot readings.
If you’re trying to promote deeper sleep, Headspa EN is quickly becoming the best-kept secret trends for reportedly easing stress, anxiety, insomnia, dementia and migraines through soothing Japanese scalp treatments.
Pop into either of its Beverly Hills or Pasadena locations and book a full treatment for a nap-inducing scalp massage (is there anything better?) and skilled ayurvedic treatment (complete with a blowout) unlike anything you’ve experienced before.
The owner Sayuri Tsuchitani, who has studied different massage techniques in Japan, Shanghai, London and Hawaii, tells me that headspas are on every street corner in Tokyo, but they’re just now slowly making their way to the States. Here’s your chance to be one of the first to try out this trend.
Jennifer gets ready to enjoy a soak in the Galactic Crystal Intention Tub at Intomesea © Jennifer Chan / Lonely Planet
Take it home
Keep the good vibes going with a little retail therapy before leaving any wellness sanctuary. Intomesea has a Galactic Crystal Intention Tub Kit (which includes bath salts, crystals, a custom bath bomb, intention card and a custom candle) available for purchase, as well as eight unique fragrance compounds made of sustainable essential oils.
The Now is another favorite spot for a blissed-out massage moment. The Santal Tobacco candle, calm balm, Gua Sha crystal face tools and copper dry body brush are all ideal souvenirs to take home as a reminder to relax on the regular.
As for skincare, you can’t go wrong with Heyday’s expansive range of curated at-home skincare tools, serums, moisturizers and masks — many of which are expertly used during the 50-minute personalized facials, which can be booked on the hour, seven days a week.
Keep the good vibes going
After your treatments, you can book a night in the Rest & Recovery Suite at Hotel Figueroa downtown for a deeply restorative staycation focused on one thing – your well-being.
The spacious suite is filled with smart gadgets to promote better rest, like customized Pluto pillows, an Eight Sleep temperature-controlled mattress, Hyperice body recovery tools, Beam supplements, a Forme workout mirror and Peloton bike to get your heart rate up and your stress levels down.
Take a dip in the coffin-shaped pool to soothe tired muscles, and be sure to pop by Bar Magnolia for a refreshing mocktail on your way out.