BY NICOLINA LEONE
Even on vacation, it can be hard to shake the busy urban lifestyle. So many things to see, to do, to try, to eat, to buy. We forget the need to unwind, to enjoy a quiet afternoon, to pamper ourselves. Luckily, many establishments in Ottawa offer an opportunity to do exactly that. Whether you want to glam up for a night out or enjoy a relaxing massage — be it alone, with friends, or your loved one — don’t forget to make time for the most important part of your stay: you.
Tame the Mane
Is there anything better than a classic hot shave? Apparently not, as a well-maintained beard is one of the hottest accessories a man can sport, and men’s grooming establishments have been popping up all over the city. One of the newest shops to join the ranks is Capital Barbershop in the Glebe. The Barbershop boys and girls offer haircuts, fabulous fades, moustache maintenance, and, of course, beard trimming and shaves. The interior sports traditional decor — a brick wall on one side and classic vanities. Have a seat in one of their retro barber chairs, enjoy a drink (they are licensed), and let the experts — a very hip-looking staff — do their work. Its cool vibe is perfect for gentlemen, and even ladies. 590 Bank St., 613 236 8838, capitalbarbershop.ca
The Well-Maintained Man
Gone are the days when spas were just for women, or even couples. Minutes from Ottawa’s buzzing downtown core, Bodé Spa for Men offers manscaping, massages, and body and facial treatments. The spa also boasts a variety of male-specific products. Enjoy the peace, quiet, and privacy Bodé offers. Their team of educated staff can help with that knot in your back that’s been plaguing you, or groom more sensitive parts of your body, or lull you into complete relaxation. A dark room, low-lit by fireplace, and earth tones — your mind and body will ease before treatment even begins. Let go and relax. 100-17 Marlborough Ave., 613-565-2633, bodespa.com
As barber shops are to men, blow dry bars are to women. Blow bars have been popping up in major cities around North America, a fabulous option for women on the go who want to achieve a polished look quick. Or it’s the perfect place to get gussied up on your way to dinner. C’est Fou Blow Bar, located in Centretown, is the creation of Fouad Eid, who has 22 years of experience in the beauty industry. His attention to detail and individuality help him create a custom style for each lady. Fabulous, convenient, and affordable — a single wash and blow is only $35! 300 Slater St., 613-233-0000, cestfoublowdrybar.com
Pampered, Polished Perfection
If a little R&R at a spa with your girlfriends is your idea of socializing, but you are on a time-sensitive budget, the Upkeep Shoppe is your answer. This darling boutique in Ottawa’s Little Italy caters to the woman with a busy schedule, with limited time, and a need for a fresh coat of polish on her nails. The cute salon creates an environment where women (and even men) can feel comfortable and receive timely spa services. They offer cuticle care and a myriad of colours to coat your nails — plus, you can even squeeze in a massage. With 30 or 60 minute time slots to choose from, you can spend an afternoon there or pop by on your way to a party. The Upkeep Shoppe also specializes in waxing and facials, and they have an eyebrow bar! 358 Preston St., 613-695-9100, upkeepshoppe.com
Relax, Rejuvenate, Refresh
Over a bridge and down a path, there lies a rustic chalet with all the modern amenities that provide leisure, good food, and rejuvenation. Yes, it sounds like a fairytale, and maybe it is. Nordik Spa-Nature is located near Gatineau Park, only 10 minutes from downtown Ottawa. But you’ll feel like you’re in a completely different part of the world, thanks to the breathtaking views of the Gatineau Hills (visible from the infinity pool). Le Nordik also offers massages, body treatments, and a salt-water floating pool.
The spa features seven outdoor baths (hot, cold, and temperate) as part of thermotherapy — a process of alternating hot and cold that was brought here by European immigrants at the turn of the 20th century.
Step 1: Hot
Enter a sauna. Nordik offers eight of them at varying temperatures. Your body will start to sweat to protect itself from overheating. The perspiration cleanses the body.
Step 2: Cold
For the strong-of-heart, enter the cold bath. The transition from hot to cold creates a thermal shock that closes the skin’s pores and releases adrenalin.
Step 3: Rest
After that, take a breather. Sleeping bag hammocks, Adirondack chairs, or a seat by the fire pit will make this easy and pleasurable. After the thermal shock, a short rest will replace the adrenalin with endorphins. Repeat the entire process three times for optimal toxin elimination and relaxation.