This summer, Avenue is exploring the best of New York’s spa offerings. Click here to read more from this series — because if you can relax here, you can relax anywhere.
The Upper East Side doesn’t exactly seem to be a hotspot for traditional Chinese medicine. There are needles a-plenty up here but mostly they’re filled with Restylane and Botox. At Ora, however, a luxury acupuncture studio opened last December, the needles are tiny stainless steel narrow gauge pricks, which are inserted at your meridians, turning you into a relaxed collection of cells with free-flowing qi.
With its David Rockwell-designed interior — lots of white marble and gold — Ora is anything but a standard acupuncture joint. The front is a minimalist “tea & tonic” lounge featuring constipation solving puerh blends and tonics made with ginseng, coconut water, and deer antler essence. Ora offers teen acupuncture — a popular mother-and-daughter activity — as well as 30-minute “Chi’ll” sessions and more serious 50-minute “Essential” sessions. But, according to founder and CEO Kim Ross, Upper East Siders have been flocking in for the Ora Acupuncture Facial, available only at this location. (Another Ora opened in NoHo in 2020.) The 75-minute treatment combines both traditional Chinese medicine with facial cleansing, facial cupping, and lymphatic drainage. For many first-time acupunctees, “It’s great at targeting your inside out,” says Ross, “you can’t look good if you don’t feel good.” The idea of being needled can be daunting, but Ora takes pains to be welcoming. Each of the five treatment rooms feel like cozy nests, with a heated bed at the center and a sense of humor. “Say Chi!” admonishes onecheeky mirror, and — after 75 minutes of acupuncture — it’s hard not to obey.