Perfect for the pampering you need after the USA long-haul, LA is made for a luxe layer-over. And in the peaceful (that’s right, peaceful) inner-city neighbourhood of Larchmont Village, the eponymous Larchmont Sanctuary Spa is the only place you need to go to start your US trip feeling revived, relaxed, refreshed and recharged.
From Santa Monica to Long Beach to San Bernardino, down in the Valley and up in the hills of Griffith Park and the famous Hollywood sign, LA is as diverse as it is immense.
For many travellers – especially us flying in from Australia and NZ – LA is the first port of call when we’re visiting the USA. Sadly the most we see of this fascinating city is the transfer lounge of LAX as we hurry on to our real destination.
But a day or two in this City of Angels is not only a good excuse to explore a town full of surprises and curiosities, it’s also a great way to push back on the jetlag and settle into American life easier.
Larchmont Sanctuary Spa
Hiding back from the road, discreet yet welcoming, the Larchmont Sanctuary Spa beckons us in, the scent of essential oils relaxing us from the moment we’re through the door.
In the spa’s relaxation room, with its open fire and comfortable seats, we sign in, enjoy a delicious mimosa and learn more about our upcoming treatment.
The treatment – Romance Rekindled
Larchmont Sanctuary Spa has a number of couples’ treatments. Ours is in three parts:
A soak in the spa’s amazing copper tub, a sugar and herb skin polish and an hour-long aromatherapy massage.
1. Champagne Bath for Two
First, we change into the wonderfully thick, soft robes and slippers provided in the segregated changing rooms, then move into the private bathroom together.
For the next 20 minutes, we recline in the enormous copper bathtub filled with bubbles and warm water, and sip on our glasses of chilled sparkling perry.
The lighting – mostly from candles planted amongst the stones around the bath – is gentle and relaxing, and the bath’s jets gently massage our travel-weary bodies.
All too soon, it’s time to get out, but at least we’re moving on to something even better than the bath!
2. Organic Sugar and Herb Skin Polish
Our therapists, Lisa and Violetta, lead us into the treatment room specially set up for couple’s to have their treatments together.
We’re scrubbed from head to foot with this gentle exfoliating polish. The treatment also stimulates circulation to the skin and rejuvenates. By the end of the half an hour, we’re already feeling more awake, yet somehow more relaxed at the same time.
Our skin feels like it’s 15 years younger too; soft, smooth and revitalised – exactly what you want after spending 14 hours on a plane!
We head back to the changing rooms for a quick shower, then we’re back to our treatment room for stage three – and they’ve left the best till last.
3. Romantic Aromatherapy Massage
Lying side by side, Christina and I spend the next hour having every joint, tendon, muscle and limb massaged and soothed by these two highly-trained therapists. You can choose your essential oil for this treatment so you get the most out of this sixty-minute indulgence.
I ask for peppermint, hoping its sharp, refreshing smell will keep me from falling asleep on the bed. I do hate to miss any part of a massage. It works, but only just.
From the tips of our toes to the top of our heads, Violetta and Lisa hunt out the tension, stiffness and fatigue in our bodies, and leave us feeling like we’re made of butter.
After the treatment
When it’s finally time to leave our treatment room, we head back to the relaxation room for a cup of delicious hot herbal tea by the fire. There are also some incredibly comfortable recliners you can lay out on – though there’s a risk of nodding off.
The romance of having this kind of treatment together is obvious. But the meaningfulness of the shared experience makes having a couples treatment while you travel really quite special.
Having the luxury of relaxing in one another’s company feeling this mellow while you’re on the road – it’s not to be undervalued.
We’re left to enjoy the peace of this lounge for as long as we want before we go back to our changing rooms and prepare ourselves for re-entry into the real world again. We want to stay in the Larchmont Sanctuary Spa longer, but it’s midday and our stomachs are telling us it’s time to go.
Thankfully, Larchmont has a wide range of food options, so it’s not long before we’re giving our grumbling appetites what they’re asking for.
The neighbourhood of Larchmont truly has a village feel to it and its name would suggest. There’s a friendly, family vibe here, which, considering the closeness of the rest of the city, is remarkable.
The main road running through this part of town – obviously Larchmont Boulevard – is lined with cafes, bakeries, sushi joints, ice cream parlours, restaurants and chains. The block between the spa and West First Street is a hungry person’s paradise.
We hit the closest spot to us – a Noah’s NY Bagels – for a quick bite before hunting out something more substantial.
We end up at Groundwork for a couple of very well-made coffees – putting to rest once and for all that good coffee is impossible to find in America. You just have to know where to look.
Thanks to Larchmont Sanctuary Spa, we started our trip around the USA feeling chilled and revived almost straight from our flight.
That almost never happens.
It usually takes a good few days to acclimatise to the time zone, but the romance and relaxation of our treatment made all the difference. It’s now our new favourite thing to do after a long-haul.
Of course, if you really want to do it properly, as well as a beautiful treatment, you also fly business class! You can read about our experiences on United Polaris SYD-LAX-SYD here.
For our other tips on surviving long flights, travelling in style and travel advice in general, check out these stories:
– 7 tips on how to avoid jetlag
– How to travel light, pack smart and stay fresh
– 37 tips for flying in style
– 17 tips on tackling long-haul flights like a pro
– How to get through airport security quickly
What do you do to get over jetlag fast and to make sure that travel fatigue doesn’t hamper your time away? Tell us in the comments.