Japanese Enzyme Bath at Willow Spa

Best Spa Bath, August 2006

Anyone who can afford $50 for an afternoon soak in scented water probably has a decent bathroom of his or her own. Yet aromatherapy baths remain a staple on spa menus, perhaps because there’s no phone or offspring just outside the door. We like a dip in Le Petite Retreat’s ergonomic copper tub—big enough for two tall people, with a hump on the floor for leg elevation. But the best bath in L.A. is paradoxically a dry one: the Japanese Enzyme Bath at Willow Spa. There’s no water in it, but “bath” sounds so much more appealing than “compost heap.” The tub is a large wood and steel affair filled with a fine mulch of wood shavings, rice bran, and fruit and vegetable enzymes. Fermentation heats it naturally for a toasty, woodsy-smelling, and surprisingly exhausting bath that aims to detoxify. Bet you don’t have one of those at home.