Have you ever wondered what it feels like to get a $320 facial? After yesterday morning, I can now tell you it feels an awful lot like getting a $180 facial, with the added benefit of foot and arm massages plus top-of-the-line skin renewal products. (Apparently, my skin will be smooth as a peach three days after my treatment.) But even though there are plenty of splurges to be found at Argentta, the newly renovated and rebranded spa found in the basement of The Watergate Hotel, there are also several ways to experience a day of luxury without the steep price tag.
But first, a bit of background about the spa. You may or may not know that The Watergate underwent a $200 million overhaul and reopened last June. More quietly, Argentta softly launched in September and officially opened with a splashy party earlier this week. Like most things Watergate, the ’60s-themed fête paid homage to the original aesthetic with treats like synchronized swimmers entertaining guests from the overhauled original indoor pool.
But what will spa-goers experience now that the synchronized swimmers and passed hors d'oeuvres have left the building? We checked out the space by booking a facial on a more mellow weekday morning, when the spa’s $3.5 million facelift could be more easily appreciated.
The front desk sits in a low-lit area decked in mosaic wall tiles depicting roses in shades of gray found throughout the spa — a nod to its name, Argentta, a twist on the Italian word for silver, argento. Once checked in and swaddled in your incredibly soft spa robe, you move on to the relaxation area, a row of plush silver chaises separated by thin, mesh-like curtains. Help yourself to some fruit-infused water or tea while you lounge, but you likely won’t need to wait long. My facialist, Ludmila, walked me through the hourlong Couture Facial described as a “customized luxury cellular treatment designed for revitalization, anti-age prevention and skin complexion enhancement. Specifically adapted to the physiological age and sensitivity of the skin.”
From what I understand, one of the creams Ludmila massaged into my face was filled with lab-grown live cells that would be absorbed into my skin and improve it from the inside out. While that alchemy took place, I was pleasantly surprised with warm towels on my feet followed by a foot massage, then a hot-stone arm and hand massage.
When finished, poke around the rest of the 12,500-square-foot facility, which also features a whirlpool, sauna, gym, steam room and nail salon. In fact, complimentary use of these amenities is offered before, between or after any purchased spa treatment, and we hear free macarons and Prosecco are available starting at noon.
Prices for treatments range from a reasonable $35 for a manicure all the way up to a whopping $530 for a four-handed massage — something I didn’t even know existed till this moment. That’s right, this is when “two therapists seamlessly perform choreographed rhythmic movements that induce deep relaxation.”
You don’t need to be a member to book a treatment, but as they say, membership has its perks. In this case, the $550 monthly no-contract membership brings such benefits as two 90-minute spa services and two personal-training sessions per year; a discount at Kingbird, Top of the Gate and The Next Whisky Bar upstairs; and free valet parking. An annual membership contract runs $5,000 or $8,500 per couple. Day passes are also available for $25, which would make a great gift for someone you want to play hooky with.
I doubt I'll ever personally shell out for a facial here, but here’s something I absolutely would do: book a manicure and/or pedicure and plan to hang out in the spa for a few hours since access to all the amenities — including the pool — are included with any treatment, even a $35 manicure. Also in line with Watergate’s infamous history, that’s a steal.