LaGuardia Airport hasn’t always gotten the best rep. It’s known for being outdated, impossible to get to and its lack of food (or any amenity for that matter) options. There’s a reason it topped Condé Nast Travelers reader's choice awards 2014 list for the worst airport in the country. So, when someone invited me to enjoy a spa day at the less-than-stellar transport hub I was skeptical.
How would I feel relaxed and pampered in a place that could be described as its “own circle of hell?” Would my spa treatments include an involuntary shower courtesy of the leaky roof? Would my blowout be done in the shoe shine chair? I had to find out.
The day started out just as it would for most trips to the spa, in an Uber, except the driver was confused as to why I was requesting to go to the airport with literally no luggage in hand. Once at the Delta’s terminal C, it started to sink that this was no ordinary spa experience as I had to go through security. (Side note: if you have to go through security at your spa, you might want to reconsider another option).
I handed over my license and non-boarding pass boarding pass to the officer. “Are you picking someone up at the gate,” asked the TSA agent. “No, I’m here for a spa day,” I replied. I’m pretty sure I’m on some crazy watch list now, but nonetheless I was let through.
To kick-off the afternoon of relaxation, I was greeted by servers with sparkling rose and tapas at Wibar. For a restaurant in the middle of terminal, the drinks and food were surprisingly delicious (they have 101 premium wines by the glass by the way). No one wants to chow down on a McDonald’s burger before getting a massage, so the light dishes of baby local beets and gazpacho andalouse were a perfect healthy set up. And just how you’d get fruit infused water at the day spa, so too was I offered fresh pressed watermelon water. Yum!
Before lunch I was treated to a tour of Terminal C Food Hall where retail partner OTG has curated a market-like experience instead of your typical grab-n-go situation. I actually found myself enjoying browsing through the variety of unique beauty products and tasting things like vegan beef jerky and chips made from cricket powder. I’m already going to the spa at the airport, why not be adventurous and eat some bugs?
My quick shopping trip was followed by spa-inspired lunch prepared by Cotto's executive chef, where I indulged dishes like tuna carpaccio and olive oil poached halibut (yes, I’m still at LaGuardia). Finally, it was on to the actual pampering treatments at Warren Tricomi Salon (yes, like the famous one in the city) and XpresSpa where I opted for my go-to services: a massage and blow-out.
I explained my back problems to the therapist and rather than just giving me the standard chair massage, he actually took me to a back room with a legit massage table to work out the kinks. The only thing that differed between this experience and one at a top-rated spa in the city is the fact that the there was an echo of flight numbers and gate changes being called instead of some Enya track playing.
The blowout was equally delightful in the pop up salon that I found out also does trims, deep conditioning treatments, and scalp massages.
By the end of the three-hour experience, I was amazingly relaxed and refreshed. So much so, it made going through baggage claim and getting on the Grand Central Parkway only mildly irritating instead of downright excruciating.
Moral of the story? Say "yes" to new experiences. You never know how things might turn out.