10 Most Bizarre Spa Treatments Around the World

That's a snake. You can actually get a "snake massage." We dare you.

As a culture, we underestimate the power of stress, either by not taking it seriously as a health risk or tallying up every trivial annoyance and dwelling on them. Stress, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. In fact, the human stress response has helped us survive as a species, alerting our minds to danger so we can remove ourselves from potentially harmful situations. It's time that we fully accept the fact that stress has very real, physical consequences on our bodies and our minds—so if you want to take a bath in coffee, wine, or green tea, you should friggin' go for it.

Healthline

In Japan, you can do just that in the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun spa, which markets itself as a "hot springs amusement park." In Greece, tiny fish have been eating the dead skin off humans' feet for 400 years. Extreme beauty treatments have existed for centuries, but when combined with the promise to relax you and provide an escape from life's stressors for just a brief moment, we get a world full of bizarre spa treatments.

Cupping (Yangzhou, China)

Metro

As an ancient form of eastern medicine, cupping is the practice of placing hot glass cups along your body, usually your back, in order to alleviate tension, reduce inflammation, soothe pain, or heighten your overall feeling of "wellness," that elusive quality that means very little but makes "lifestyle" companies like Goop so much money. As WebMD recounts, "Cupping therapy might be trendy now, but it's not new. It dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures. One of the oldest medical textbooks in the world, the Ebers Papyrus, describes how the ancient Egyptians used cupping therapy in 1,550 B.C. Now it's thought to actually open the blood vessels, inducing a feeling of relaxation.

Bathing in Wine

Beaujolais Season Starts At Open Air Wine Spa

Huff Post

At the "hot springs amusement park" in Japan, adults and children can bathe in (diluted) red wine. The antioxidants are thought to benefit the skin with anti-aging properties. Meanwhile, Yunessun also offers baths of coffee and tea, also purported to confer their own antioxidant-rich ambrosia to enhance relaxation and also health. But as Lonely Planet notes, "The resort's site claims that 'bathing in red wine is a rejuvenating treatment for the body' but as fun as it sounds, red wine can actually dry out your skin. So while splashing about in wine won't make you look younger, it sure as hell will make you feel younger and that's what really matters. Cheers to that."

Hammam (Morocco)

To some, it's a traditional cleansing ritual in a communal steam room, followed by a massage. To others, it's a crucible of will power and strength in which you are completely naked while a stranger bathes you aggressively in "scalding hot" water. One western visitor described the body scrub as follows: "I was led out by my hand and was laid down on a marble slab in another hot room where my body was exfoliated. When I say exfoliated, that's an understatement. It's more like having your skin peeled off with sandpaper. At one point I was sure that there was a trickle of blood pouring down my leg as she rubbed up and down my calf." But hey, some people are into (consensual) skinning, so go for it.

Swaddling (Japan)

Have you ever wanted to be suffocated by an Asian woman? Who hasn't, right? Starting in Japan, swaddling therapy is a straight-up Freudian treatment that will send your mind back to the stillness and peace of the womb by wrapping you in cloth. A Japanese midwife invented the therapy in 2015. According to Vice, "Nobuko Watanabe initially created the treatment to alleviate concerns of parents who worried that the swaddling of their infants—a practice known as Ohinamaki—might be leaving the babies feeling claustrophobic." The practice of Otonamaki (simply translated to "adult swaddling") promises the unique chance to "experience zero-gravity" and "become a different person," as well as other existential meditations on your identity, the existence of the human soul, the nature of time and space, why people were so angry when Starbucks' holiday cups turned red, and why boomers can't take a decent selfie. There's also some color therapy involved while whatever matronly Asian woman you pay to swaddle you rocks you gently from side to side.

Snail Facial (Japan)

Snail secretions (i.e. mucus) have already become a popular ingredient in Asian skincare. Snail facials just promise to be the purest and most direct hit with fresh slime. Claims that nutrients and natural antioxidants in snail mucus rejuvenate skin make this a unique experience to have, most easily found in Tokyo where it began. Prices range anywhere from $30 to $200, and while there are no known scientific studies that support its benefits, snail facials are not even a new idea. According to The Guardian, "Concoctions made from snail mucus are said to date back to ancient Greece, when the great physician Hippocrates reportedly crushed snails and sour milk as a cure for skin inflammations. In recent times, the French have turned this essence of escargot into assorted creams and lotions." If nothing else, we can only assume fresh snail mucus is cool to the touch? So embrace the power of the snail, and let Spongebob's pet crawl all over you, we guess.

Cryotherapy

US News Health

The promised benefits of exposing the body to extreme cold (via liquid nitrogen) for a limited amount of time include quick injury recovery, pain management, improved athletic performance, tissue repair, and quick weight loss. By exposing the body to temperatures as low as negative 240 degrees Fahrenheit, cryotherapy is the perfect mix of extreme and dangerous to become heavily popular. At least one woman has died in the United States while attempting to undergo cryotherapy. But the temptation is understandable: Imagine the futuristic set up, the thrill of danger, and the physical burst of energy that inevitably follows a session (that's because all the blood rushes to protect your internal organs and leaves you feeling pretty limbless, but when you step out all that blood rushing back to your arms and legs feels exhilarating-you know, because you're almost dying).

With that being said, there's no scientific evidence backing up the extreme lengths (and cost) of cryotherapy. In fact, a sports medicine expert, Dr. Jordan Metzl, told Fortune, "Icing or cooling the body is a great anti-inflammatory that helps speed recovery. That being said, to step from an ice bath to spending hundreds of dollars to get repeatedly cryogenically frozen is a big leap…without scientific backup." You're better off choosing "simply to move every single day."

Diamond Blowout (England)

Harrod's

For just $500, you can have diamond-infused shampoo and conditioner applied to your hair. As a result, your hair will be...mildly more shimmery. At Harrod's Urban Retreat Spa in London, they actually offer "diamond and meteorite dust-infused" products. But hey, at least you get a couple full-sized bottles to take home with you: Truffle by Fuente haircare promises to "leave your hair looking silken, shining with health and feeling light as air - just like our favorite red carpet starlets." By the way, do you know what "meteorite dust" looks like? Dust. It looks like dirty dust.

Fish Pedicure (Greece)

Tasty Thailand

Do you suffer from psoriasis and eczema on your lower legs and feet? Try a fish treatment: "Known colloquially as doctor fish, Garra rufa are native to Turkey and several Middle Eastern countries including Syria, Iran and Iraq. They are used almost exclusively for fish pedicures because of a survival tactic that enables them to thrive on dead scales and skin whenever their preferred food is scarce." That's right. Pay anywhere between $45 and $95, and about 100 fishies will nibble on your flaky feet.

Nightingale Facial (Japan)

Bird Poop.

The Telegraph

It's bird poop. For anti-aging and brightening miracles, you can pay over $200 to have very special bird poop smeared all over your face. Nightingale facials are said to have originated as a beauty secret of Japanese Geishas, who used the droppings of a very rare species of bird only found on the Japanese island of Kyushu to heal their skin from their heavy face make-up. You can find this treatment outside of Japan (with heftier prices due to importing the precious poop), or you could just...hydrate and wear sunscreen.

Snake Message (Phillipines)

Some people do it to conquer their fear of snakes. Some people do it because they're adrenaline junkies. Some people do it because snakes hold a place in their spiritual beliefs as divine creatures, as descendants of the serpent in the Garden of Eden and maybe because they poop really, really weird. For whatever reason, snake massages exist and lure people to be covered in boa constrictors for 30 minutes to an hour. But don't worry; the snakes are fed beforehand so they don't get hungry. As one New York Times reporter noted when she signed up for her one-on-den time, she received forms including the warning, "There are NO GUARANTEES that you will never get hurt by a snake. No one ever has in any of my work with my Snakes and clients."

Why do people do it? Simple: It feels like a really huge hug. "It was a lot calmer and peaceful than I thought it would be," said one client. As Serpentessa, the Snake Preistess of Poughkeepsie, NY informs her clients, "They tone and stimulate the vagus nerve in our body and that releases endorphins and oxytocin." Of course! An adult female boa constrictor can weigh between 20 and 30 pounds, inducing clients into a feeling of calm. "There was a point it felt like they were just hugging me around the shoulders," one of Serpentessa's clients said. "It just felt very calm – like I could fall asleep."

So really, it makes sense. Snake massages provide the comfort of a weighted blanket, except instead of a blanket...it's f*cking snakes.

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Distillery tours went on hiatus in 2020, but there are high hopes for 2021. While bourbon leaps immediately to mind when thoughts turn to distillery tours, interest in other spirits and how they're made is increasing. Here are a few of the best tours to thrill tequila lovers.

Tequila Herradura

Ride in style on the Herradura Express, a distillery sponsored train ride that runs from Guadalajara to the town of Amatitán for a distillery tour and tastings, followed by lunch featuring live entertainment. The train then takes visitors back to Guadalajara by evening. Herradura is housed in the last tequila-producing Hacienda in the world, Hacienda San Jose del Refugio. Casa Herradura will be closed for visits and tours until Mexican health officials declare the coronavirus emergency over.

La Rojeña

Producer of Jose Cuervo, La Rojeña has a train of its own called the Jose Cuervo Express (currently on hiatus due to COVID-19) to bring visitors to the oldest distillery in the town of Tequila. Jose Cuervo offers distillery tours, tastings, and tours of the agave fields. Mundo Cuervo (Cuervo world) also has its own hotel, Solar de las Animas. Check for COVID-19 hours and restrictions before booking.

Casa Sauza

Founded in 1873, Casa Sauza offers four levels of tours including a visit to the La Perseverancia distillery, a visit to the Quinta Sauza estate, and for those willing to spend more, barrel tastings and a barbeque or a three-course meal. Casa Sauza is on hiatus until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, but should go on the distillery tour bucket list.

La Cofradia

The only tequila distillery with a hotel inside, La Cofradia offers many experiences in addition to distillery tours. Choose a hike through natural trails, biking, or horseback riding through the agave fields. Rooms made of giant tequila barrels sit among the agave plants for a unique stay. Visiting La Cofradia is sure to be a tour that thrills tequila lovers. Contact the hotel directly for information about lockdown closures.

A distillery tour offers education about tequila's history and manufacture. Bone up on your tequila terms and tips for choosing quality tequila before you go, so you'll understand what you're tasting.

We don't know how to feel about winter this year. Sure, nobody likes the cold and dreary months, but there's something special about the Holiday season that just seems to be missing. Maybe the thought of staying inside and cozying up to a nice book isn't very enticing given the last few months. The joyful winter wonderland that we usually associate with winter seems to be missing.

That's why our editors decided to take it upon themselves and spread some delight with seasonal meals, courtesy of HelloFresh. For those who don't know what HelloFresh is, it's a meal-kit delivery service with dozens of easy-to-prepare recipes to choose from. Simply select which meals you want as well as how many servings and a neatly organized cardboard box will arrive at your doorstep within the week. Nobody wants to go out in the Winter anyway, and with HelloFresh, you don't have to!

To celebrate the arrival of the coldest season, we decided to highlight some of our favorite (and heartiest) recipes from HelloFresh that are perfect for the Holiday season. Here are five wholesome and balanced meals that will warm you up in no time.

Veggie Loaded Kale & Risoni Soup

A hearty and warm soup is a Winter staple and this veggie loaded kale and risoni soup from HelloFresh absolutely hits it out of the park. All anybody wants during the colder months is to feel cozy and nurtured--just like the flavorful bowl of nutrients. Warm and creamy risoni compliments the seasonal veggies perfectly and the side of garlic bread is a sure-fire cure for any winter blues. With 22 meals to pick from each week, this one is sure to be a household favorite.

Cheesy Red Pesto Chicken Melts

Everyone is familiar with classic green pesto, but have you ever tried red pesto? Red pesto offers way more complexity and oomph than its green counterpart. It is incredibly bright with rich notes of umami, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil and garlic. This rendition also features hits of chargrilled capsicum for a little extra zest. You get the exact amount of each ingredient and seasoning, as well as super detailed recipe cards, that make meal prep a breeze. Spread it over a glistening chicken bread and sprinkle with cheese for delectable chicken melts.

Winter Risotto

Risotto is a great winter warmer. It's packed full of veggies so your body will light up like fire, but it's also silky, sumptuous and a real crowd pleaser. HelloFresh's Winter Risotto features a heart helping of kale that pairs perfectly with nutty Parmesan and crunchy walnuts for a robust taste. Did we mention that it also comes with fennel seeds sprinkled throughout? This unique seasoning adds a distinctive, yet delicious flavor to this classic winter staple. We know these meals are pretty hardy, which is why we love having the option to pause our subscription or cancel a week when need be.

Cheat's Italian Pork & Veggie Bolognese

A bolognese that only takes 30 minutes to make? Sign us up! This one is chock full of all the rich flavors of a classic Italian sauce. In fact, we're getting some serious Italian grandmother vibes with this recipe. Silky baby Spanish and grated carrots melt into a hearty meat sauce, offering a mouth-watering meal for anyone looking for a little zest. It's delivery quality, but much more affordable, plus you get to cook it yourself!

Smokey Mild Chorizo & Bean Chilli

Yet another clever twist on a weekday favorite! The paprika and garlic flavored cured sausage is a staple in our chopping baskets since it goes well with practically anything. Not only is Chorizo loved for its taste, but also for its ability to infuse sauces with its tantalizing flavor. This time around, HelloFresh has decided to spice up a classic bowl of bean chili with Spanish styling of a smokey mild chorizo. The end result? A mix of chorizo, red kidney beans, corn and avocado, and an irresistible flavor that everyone will love. This is just one of dozens of unique HelloFresh recipes you won't find anywhere else!

Gone are the days of trekking through the frigid cold just for a few groceries. Sign-up for HelloFresh today and get your ingredients delivered right to your doorstep. Time to start cozying up the right way, with a delicious meal and a nice cup of hot cocoa.

Update: Our friends at HelloFresh are extending a special Black Friday offer to our readers. Follow this link to get $90 off across 4 boxes including free shipping!

Travel Tips

8 of the Best Donut Spots In the United States

Celebrate National Donut Day with our favorite treats across the country.

November 5th marks one of 2020's two National Donut Days.

Occurring in both June and November, National Donut Day allows fans of those delectable yeasty treats to embrace their sweet tooth. But like any niche food group, people often take their donuts very, very seriously, and there are countless places to get your fix.


Below, we've rounded up some of the best donut spots across the country. From coast to coast, these bakeries are sure to impress even the pickiest donut-heads.

Mr. T.'s Delicate Donut Shop – Modesto, CA

Mr. T.'s Delicate Donut Shop

If you ever find yourself in the San Francisco Bay Area, it's worth taking a short trek out east towards Modesto for some of California's best donuts. Mr. T.'s Delicate Donut Shop has remained family owned since its opening over 30 years ago, providing both tried-and-true classic donuts as well as experimental flavors and holiday specials. Even their 24-hour service doesn't diminish the line that trails out the door most mornings.

Dough — New York, NY

Dough \u2014 New York, NY

Donuts might not be the first circular, doughy treat you think of when it comes to New York City. If you've had your fair share of bagels, the Big Apple also boasts some spectacular donuts at Dough, a go-to spot for both tourists and locals alike. Here, you'll find a host of Latin American-inspired flavors that are hard to come by anywhere else; their Dulce de Leche flavor is a customer favorite, while the tangy Hibiscus donut is just as good for Instagramming as it is for eating.

Blackbird Doughnuts — Boston, MA

Blackbird Doughnuts \u2014 Boston, MA

Boston's Blackbird Doughnuts is a no-frills donut spot specializing in both brioche "raised" donuts and old-fashioned cake donuts. With a small menu of year-round donuts and a rotating cast of seasonal flavors, Blackbird keeps it simple and classic. Why mess around?

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop — Brooklyn, NY

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop \u2014 Brooklyn, NY

For over 60 years, Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop has been calling the quaint Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint home. Since then, the bakery has remained a popular spot for both regulars and new visitors passing through the area. Here, you won't find uber-trendy decor or gimmicky recipes, just damn good donuts that prove the power of long-standing local businesses.

Pip’s Original — Portland, OR

Pip\u2019s Original \u2014 Portland, OR

In both their mobile catering van and brick-and-mortar locations, Pip's Original is a staple for small, sweet treats in Portland. They're known for their tiny donuts that come in inventive seasonal flavors like marionberry-lavender and mango ghost pepper. But even if you opt for one of the more traditional flavors, Pip's Original proves good things can come in small packages.

Round Rock Donuts — Round Rock, TX

Round Rock Donuts \u2014 Round Rock, TX

Founded in 1926, Round Rock Donuts—located just north of Austin—are impossible to miss. These donuts' distinct yellow-orange color, caused by fresh eggs in the original recipe, make them stand out among the crowd. While this classic outpost can easily churn out hundreds of dozens of donuts a day, they also offer Texas-Sized Donuts, which are just as ginormous as you'd imagine. Round Rock Donuts are not only delicious and easily recognizable, but they're a slice of Lone Star history.

The Holy Donut — Portland, ME

The Holy Donut \u2014 Portland, ME

In Maine's Portland, you might not find tiny donuts or a decked-out catering van, but you will find a slightly healthier alternative. The Holy Donut was founded on the premise of creating tasty donuts that used all-natural ingredients to make a treat you could feel good about eating. The secret ingredient is fresh, mashed Maine potatoes, which make these donuts delectably moist without sacrificing flavor.

Donut Friend — Los Angeles, CA

Donut Friend \u2014 Los Angeles, CA

As expected of a city so focused on entertainment, Los Angeles' Donut Friend puts an edgy spin on their inventive donut flavors. Their year-round menu features donut flavors with names like Green Teagan and Sara, Fudgegazi, and Bacon-182 that are sure to delight the rock music nerds. For everyone else, the delicious donuts speak for themselves.