Sweet Solace

Krystyna’s European Spa’s new location continues its commitment to creating a tranquil and relaxing experience
Sweet Solace
Photograph by David Lewinski

You’ve got to love a place where you actually don’t mind lingering in the waiting room, dreary places generally characterized by cheap furniture, tattered months-old magazines, and dusty fake plants.

But from the moment I plopped down on the butterscotch-colored leather sofa in the waiting room at Krystyna’s European Spa, I felt at ease. It’s an inviting room, with a table holding a bowl of Dove chocolates, another one filled with cashews, and yet one more stocked with fresh apples. There’s also a fireplace with nooks on each side of it so that magazines and New Age-type books can be neatly stacked. The walls throughout the spa are painted a restful, pale green-blue, and the décor is adorned with wood and discreet metal accents. The gentle purling of a large fountain in the hall adds to the tranquil air. There’s also a pitcher of water with cucumber and lemon slices, as well as tea and coffee. I opt for a refreshing glass of the water and sink down on the sofa with a magazine as subdued classical music plays on the sound system.

Your Spa Spy lasted visited Krystyna’s in 2005, when it was on Old Woodward in Birmingham. My experience was happy back then, but the spa has since moved to new digs in Beverly Hills, so a return visit seemed in order. The new place — where Krystyna’s has been for nearly two years — is more spacious, and parking is free, so clients don’t have to feed meters, as they did in Birmingham. It’s just off Beverly Street and Southfield Road, about a quarter-mile south of 14 Mile Road. It’s a bit off the main drag, but it’s easily distinguishable by its lilac-colored awning and door.

The business is owned by Polish immigrant Krystyna Ejsmont, whose builder husband, Ziggy, is responsible for the spa’s design. There are several employees also from Poland, so the “European” in the name is genuine, unlike some places that add the word to their name as a pompous cachet.

Soon I was summoned to my Spa Manicure. It’s more elaborate than an ordinary manicure in that it includes exfoliation and a paraffin treatment. Hot wax softens the hands, and feels terrific as well. Candy, my nail technician, started off with a quick appraisal: “You have healthy nails,” she said, adding that it’s a combination of genetics and good diet. All I know is that my nails grow very quickly, don’t crack, and aren’t plagued by white spots.

Candy is thorough in her work and isn’t a chatterbox. Too many employees at various spas try to chat up clients as if they were fast friends. I don’t mind exchanging a few niceties, but spas are supposed to be quiet and serene. She completes the procedure by giving me a matte finish with Nails for Males, a fine product from Orly, and one that more guys should try. It gives the nails a subtle finishing touch, and it’s not shiny like most polishes.

My hands look good, but my body isn’t in nearly as good shape: a tight neck, sore back, overworked calves, hamstrings wound up like spaghetti, arms that feel as if I’ve been a stand-in for Atlas, holding up the world. Time for a massage — and a long one, so I signed up for a 90-minute Swedish massage with Chris, another Polish transplant.

Some people go away from a massage feeling merely relaxed. That’s a nice benefit, but a good, vigorous massage should also drain lymphatic fluid, freeing toxins from the body, while also improving blood circulation and contributing to more relaxed, regular breathing.

It took awhile, but Chris untied some major knots by kneading muscles and varying the strokes. Some were circular, while others were linear. He used hot towels, as well, which have a two-fold benefit: The heat stimulates blood circulation, while the dampness wipes away excess massage oil. Chris finished up with a calming foot massage, followed by a gentle scalp treatment. He rightly asked permission to perform both before the massage began. For whatever reason, some people are skittish about having their feet and scalps touched. To me, a massage just isn’t complete without including these two areas.

Upon completion, my neck and arms have a wider range of motion, and my breathing is deeper and relaxed.

“Mind and Body Are One” is Krystyna’s European Spa’s mantra, emblazoned on a wall at the spa and appearing throughout its brochure. Before my treatments, the words sounded to me like New Age claptrap plucked off the back of a box of tea. But after my manicure and massage, I feel there just may be some truth in that statement.