Barvikha Hotel & Spa, www.barvikhahotel.com, sits just west of Moscow, in the super-ritzy community of Rublyovka, where everyone from Joseph Stalin to Vladimir Putin to the oligarchs who once ruled Russia have camped out in sprawling dachas enveloped by thick forests.
You don't go to Barvikha to unwind. You go there to experience life as it is lived by Russia's élite. This is where today's boyar and his 20-year-old girlfriend get facials and hydro-massages and sip lemon water in fluffy robes while having their toenails buffed. This is where you pay top-tier prices say, $250 for a 21/2-hour treatment simply to be with other members of Russia's ruling class.
That said, it's not all pretense at Barvikha. The facilities comprise a series of rectangular glass buildings with striking wooden slats on the exterior. The black-brown-ecru lobby is filled with recessed lighting and features a first-rate bar and restaurant. Service, which is never reliable in Russia, is as good as it gets in Moscow. Plus there's the spa, which is run by an English-speaking staff and seems to be permanently infused with the scent of jasmine and a soft, very hip soundtrack that will make you feel younger than you are which would seem to be the whole point of all those treatments, yes?