The Houston Guide
Houston is a proper Texan city. In other words, it’s massive, folksy, and utterly charming. The nineteen museums within the Museum District are all world-class, Chinatown here is a mini-metropolis within the city, shopping requires its own itinerary, and extra days tacked onto your trip are never a bad call. As for the food, we’ll put it this way: Houston managed to bring home twelve James Beard nominations. And that was just last year.
DEFINE body & mind714 Yale St., The Heights | 713.677.0149
Instructors at DEFINE are trained to listen to clients' needs and pay particularly close attention to joint and muscle protection—all while toning the body to peak performance. And they throw a few creative tweaks into their standard repertoire of barre, yoga, and spin, like DEFINE bounce, a barre class that makes use of a trampoline to incorporate high-intensity interval training. Cardio is a chore, but you'd hardly think so mid-bounce at the studio. The hammock yoga class teaches ballerina-esque swan dives; the ball yoga class is like a guided foam rolling session to open up tight joints. If your baby is a fan of the carrier, there's even a class you can take together for forty-five minutes of bonding and exercise.
milk + honey2800 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby | 713.231.0250
If you're in need of a wax, a fast facial, a mani-pedi, or just about any self-care moment you can imagine, Milk + Honey is the spot. It's great if you have time for only an in-and-out, though we suggest carving out a solid afternoon to yourself. The Spa Partisan packs in a body-polishing treatment, a steam, and a sixty-minute body-butter massage. (It's as good as it sounds.) Facials, which last anywhere from 60 to 120 minutes, call for a customized mix of CosMedix and Osea products, and the aestheticians are happy to spend extra time to make sure your goals for the treatment are met. End your experience by wandering through the smartly curated shop, where you'll find their insane lemon-vanilla body polish and travel-size Davines hair care, which can be tricky to track down—plus, the full range of Osea certified-organic skin care.
Paloma Nails714 Yale St., Uptown | 832.516.9628
Maryam Naderi introduced Houston to the nontoxic manicure in 2016 with Paloma, the very first salon in the city to ditch the chemicals for five-free nail polish (formulas that contain no formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate, resin, or camphor). Every square inch of Paloma is clean and committed to Naderi's vision of wellness. There's no shellac, acrylic, or UV lights to speak of, and pedicures are administered over sleek stone basins instead of plastic bins. For those in a rush, the Quick Fix manicure is the way to go, but if you've come to indulge, try the Standard, an eighteen-step nail service that comes with an exfoliation treatment, massage, and your pick of Weleda products.
Phoenix Rising Acupuncture2202 W. Alabama St., Upper Kirby | 713.806.9927
Licensed acupuncturist Lori J. Earley thinks of the human body as "just the tip of the iceberg" when it comes to balancing her patients' discomfort and pain. Using this ideology, Phoenix Rising provides a session called Esoteric Acupuncture, which works to expand consciousness and balance the chakras. There's also the option to add a cupping session to aid blood circulation.
Pralaya Yoga2303 Dunlavy St., Montrose | 713.953.9642
Instructor and studio owner Robert Boustany combines his forty years of experience teaching and practicing yoga into a specially crafted practice he calls Pralaya. Relying on a background in academics (he holds a master's in physics), Boustany splices the very best of traditional yogi training with breathwork, resulting in a flow that aims to protect joints and boost energy levels. If you're still struggling with more difficult poses, Boustany is the kind of teacher who challenges you to elevate your practice.
RYDE2005 West Gray St., River Oaks | 832.581.2878
This cycling studio is, in a word, remarkable. The highly trained instructors give you the benefit of intense, focused attention for forty minutes of heart-rate-pumping pedaling. Not to mention a playlist that's better than most clubs and a bike that tracks your performance and sends you the analytics (average rpm, energy burned, miles cycled, etc.) after class. Don't be disappointed when you have to leave your chilled eucalyptus towel behind—you'll be back tomorrow.
Sanctuary Spa1701 S Shepherd Dr., Montrose | 713.622.7722
This spa's holistic energy combines traditional Japanese and Egyptian treatments with a little bit of Southern hospitality. The menu isn't so expansive that you'd lose valuable time picking a treatment, but if you need a real quickie, the thirty-minute massage is a revelation. (And it's the only place in Houston offering yoni steams.) The seaweed wrap for dry, flaky skin cocoons the body in a layer of kombu, aloe, and green tea for some light exfoliation. If you can't choose, the Off-the-Menu facial customizes products to your skin type.