We've scoured the city to bring you the best spas in LA for massages—from celeb-studded luxe oceanfront hotels to Thai joints on the Eastside where you unwind by getting walked on (literally). Pair your morning hike, intense workout or even post-work happy hour outing with an relaxing rubdown that will alleviate your muscles. Take a breath, and check out our guide to the best massages, plus exclusive discounts, spa tips and the most requested spa the rapists.
Inside Melrose Avenue's boutique hotel hides a private room where you can get the city's best Thai massage experience... for cheap. Check in at the front desk and make your way upstairs to a charming, Americana-meets-English countryside sitting room. Don't get too comfortable—when the massage therapist greets you, you'll find yourself in a private room all to yourself. Opt to disrobe or slip into the provided Thai fisherman pants before resting your head on the orchid-adorned bed, another swoon-worthy detail. Get pulled, stretched and loosened, and soon, you'll be ready to brave the retail-warrior shopping nearby.
• Tip: Forget circling the block—park in the hotel guest parking underground.
***Book a Time Out-special offer: 90-minute Thai massage + Thai fisherman pants = $70.
Best spas in LA: Top massages for every budget
Rest your head and unwind at the best spas in LA for cheap, mid-range and splurge-worthy rubdowns.
Pho Siam Thai Spa
If you liked to be pulled, punched and stepped on, this is the place for you. Thai massage isn't for everyone, especially when it's done so traditionally (read: aggressively). You're not there to be pampered (okay, they do massage you with oil for a bit, and the head and neck massage is also quite nice). You're there to be worked on. And walked on. You'll be taken to one in a double row of treatment areas, sectioned off by heavy curtains. Each has its own changing vestibule, where you'll strip down and pull on a pair of loose Thai fisherman pants. You'll notice strips of fabric hanging from the ceiling above you, which is what your therapist will hold onto while she works on you with her feet. Your treatment will be half-ecstasy, half-exorcism, and if you're into that sort of thing, it's pretty great. Afterward, you're rewarded with a bottle of water and a candy bowl to grab from on your way out—it's a little more Halloween than healthy living, but hey, we'll take a fun-size Snickers anytime. The best thing about Pho Siam—other than it being one of the few good massage spots on the Eastside—is that it's pretty cheap: $75 for a 90-minute massage is a damn good deal.
• Tip: Make sure to specify "feet" or "no feet" before your treatment begins. Foot phobias are respected, but only if you speak up at the beginning!
Blossom Spa Hollywood
Smack dab in the middle of Hollywood (on bustling Highland, no less), this newly opened urban oasis offers a full menu of spa services from massages and facials to detoxifying mud body treatments and alphabiotics (hands-on body alignment that's chiropractics-meets-stress relief). The former house was restored by Jeff Widmann, who also owns Golden Bridge Yoga across the street. The result: a homey feel that's part cathedral (lofty ceilings, stained-glass windows) and part living room (fireplace, comgy lounge chairs). Massages range from Shiatsu and Thai ($70 for 60 minutes) to traditional Swedish ($85 for 60 minutes). There are four treatment rooms for singles and couples, and the entire spa can be reserved for group parties.
• Tip: Pull up to on-site parking, unheard of in this part of town.
Located in a Marina del Rey shopping center, this traditional Thai spa is a diamond in the rough. The tiny space only has five treatment rooms, including one with two beds for couples massages. Each treatment room is portioned off by sliding doors, so you can hear anyone who walks into the reception area during your treatment. As a precaution, plan to visit during the week at non-peak hours so that your relaxing treatment remains uninterrupted. Keep in mind that this is a no-frills type of spa—as are many other Thai massage spas—however, the beauty here is in the cleanliness and professional staff. You may encounter a language barrier, but you'll find every staff member to be helpful. Opt for the one-hour massage ($50), which combines Thai, Swedish and deep tissue massages catered on your body's needs. It's the best of all worlds. Each treatment room has a metal bar bolted on the ceiling which your therapist will use for stability while walking on your back. The skilled massage therapists will switch from standing on your back to using their elbows and hands—knowing exactly which body part to use to open up your tense muscles. For full relaxation, and if you have many knots and tight muscles, you may want to book the extended 90-minute session.
• Tip: The biggest draw here is the cheap price for a body-melting massage. Be sure to check the website for specials, including the current one-hour foot massage for $30. If you really love your first visit, opt for buying a 10-pack and you'll get a free massage.
The Massage Garage
Westsiders in need of a tune-up head to downtown Culver City to get their tired and sore muscles repaired and recalibrated. With an auto repair shop theme (the sign outside reads "we fix bodies"), this massage haven is open until 9:30 p.m. daily for massages on the cheap. Don't expect zen and plush robes—it's straightforward massages in a no-frills space. More than 40 massage therapists rotate between the 8+ rooms. Try a Test Drive ($32, 30 minutes), get a major Overhaul ($74, 90 minuets) or go for a standard Tune Up ($48, 60 minutes).
• Tip: Road ragers can come in for regular TLC with a five or ten-series pack ($225 for five 60-minute sessions, $440 for 10 60-minute sessions).
Danielle Directo-Meston on Dec 16, 2014, 2:00p
Image via HM Warm Spa
Retail therapy is an exhausting endeavor—and so is blowing all your benjamins. If your spendy bargain-hunting sesh has drained your R&R budget and luxury spas aren't your most wallet-friendly option, relaaaax: there are plenty of non-seedy and cheap rubdown spots in Los Angeles for proper post-spree pampering.
From a foot rub heaven in Pasadena to a reliable LA relaxation chain to an anti-Burke Williams in the San Gabriel Valley, we've rounded up over 10 affordable massage places, including some that are conveniently located near our favorite stylish shopping stretches. Don't see your top spot on the list? Feel free to share in the comments below.
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LA's Best Massage Spots for Budget-Friendly Rubdowns
Jade Stone Therapy Massage, $135 for 60 minutes
2016 Hillhurst Ave.
We complain when the mercury goes below 50 or above 80. So the idea of being massaged with both ice-cold and scalding-hot stones made us a bit wary. After coating our skin with a silky lotion, our masseur ran the 130-degree stones over our limbs, eventually nestling a few under our hands, feet, and rib cage. While the warmth of those rocks radiated outward, he pressed some icy ones into other areas. The contrasting sensations left us energized and our muscles loose. It turns out that we can take the heat—and the cold.
Body by Kate at Kate Somerville
Mary Ascension Saulnier
Massage, $180 and up
8428 Melrose Pl.
No one goes to Saulnier for a garden-variety massage. Known widely around town as "the fat whisperer," she has a reputation among the Hollywood elite for shooing away stress—and sag. But we were still taken by surprise when she handed us a paper thong and ordered us to strip. She then slathered on a cinnamon-and-cayenne-pepper mud mask and wound Ace bandages around our thighs before zipping us into a compression sack. The heated cocoon held us in a long, tight hug and kneaded every muscle. When we emerged, she vigorously rubbed our lower half, paying close attention to our tight calves and hamstrings. By the end, our legs were two sizes smaller—and haven't filled out an inch in days.
60 minutes, $95
House calls only
We told Wescott we enjoy the benefits of deep-tissue but can't endure intense prodding. She began untangling our knots in the most humane way possible, seeking out sore areas and rubbing them to gauge how much pressure we could take. The best part? When she handed us the bill, we didn't even flinch.
Massage, $80 per 60 minutes
Many a tense jet-setter has called Parks from the air to schedule a deep-tissue massage for right after landing at LAX. Parks spent her first seven years working on patients in a physical-therapy clinic, so she's no stranger to bad backs. "I give a meat-and-potatoes massage," she says humbly of her home visits—and it's one that many athletes and showbiz people are hungry for.
El León Day Spa & Healing Center
Rock Star Massage, $185
8217 Beverly Blvd.
Our shoulders instinctively tensed when Wongthongdee handed us a T-shirt and karate pants—in our mind, a massage shouldn't involve workout gear or any effort more strenuous than flipping from stomach to back. But a soothing hand-and-foot bath calmed our nerves and prepared us for what came next: an hour of intense twisting and bending. Next came some serious pampering with a blissful head-and-neck rub, which shooed away stress and put us in a limpid stupor, without our breaking a sweat.
Massage, $80 for 60 minutes
House calls only
When a Hollywood insider told us about an affordable in-home Thai massage, we got out our pen. Perhaps we should have asked more questions, because the smooth stroking we'd expected was actually an hour of stretching and pulling, trying to breath through the pain of having our calves pummeled with someone's heels. It's not that Nipakakoin isn't good at her job—it's just that this authentic style of Thai massage can be vigorous and is definitely not for the faint of heart. Next time, we'll speak up and ask her to handle us with care.
Exhale Four-Handed Massage, $230 for 60 minutes
1422 2nd St., Santa Monica
It's hard enough to find one massage therapist who really listens to us, let alone two who pass muster. And yet, during this two-on-one session, both therapists managed to give us exactly what we desired. At times it was nearly impossible to discern one set of hands from the other, so perfectly synchronized were they in speed and pressure. And at every moment, at least one set of hands was massaging our head or feet. One caveat: Double the pleasure comes with a doubly steep price tag.
Fusion Massage, $130
Fairmont Hotel, 101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
A stress-inducing week at the office had our shoulders creeping up to our ears. So we slouched over to Cross, who uses a combination of Swedish and deep-tissue to neutralize tension. She drizzled aromatherapy oil along our back and burrowed her hands into our knots, kneading and stroking us from head to toe before stretching and rotating our limbs. We left an hour later with straight posture and a sense of calm that lasted well into the workweek.
Fred Segal Beauty
Kristen Lee Rawson
Massage, $110 for 60 minutes in the spa, $150 for house calls
Strong enough for a man (Michael Douglas) but gentle enough for a woman (Lili Taylor), Rawson uses what she calls "good old-fashioned elbow grease." We call it scented Carita lotion and a buffet of massage styles. Starting with craniosacral therapy at the base of the skull, she used Swedish strokes on our arms, sports massage on our legs, and reflexology on our feet. When she finished with our right side, it felt inches longer than our left, which was still crabbed and tense. "The muscle tissue speaks to me," she says. "And I speak to it." New Agey, but ours got the message.