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.

Photograph: Courtesy The Spa at Terranea

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 deep breath, and check out our guide to the best massages, plus exclusive discounts, spa tips and the most requested spa therapists.

RECOMMENDED: Best spas in LA

Cheap

Palihotel

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.

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Los Angeles

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!

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Echo Park

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.

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Sirinan Massage

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.

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Marina del Rey

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).

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Culver City

Mid-range

Argyle Salon & Spa

Whether you're a globe-trotting rock star, silver-screen starlet or you dream of being one, get polished, primped and pampered at Sunset Tower Hotel's spa hideaway. Tucked away on the Strip, a stone's throw from the original Riot House where rock 'n' roll legends used to carouse and play, you'll feel as though you've entered another time and place. The exterior exudes classic Old Hollywood with the art deco to match. Past the understated glam (and decidedly masculine) lobby and down a flight of stairs leads you to the main reception/salon where the town's most famous tresses are tousled and tamed. Another flight down takes you to a dimly lit haven of four private spa suites, each outfitted with everything you need: shower, oversized tub, toilet, sitting area with telephone and Wifi, flat screen TV, Arcona face products, Brazilian Blowout hair products and in-room dining. Services are extensive from massages (ask for Mohammed) to add-ons such as LED light therapy ($60, 30 minutes)—yes, the same sun-simulating therapy used for seasonal depression is great for your mood and your skin—to a Cleopatra-worthy milk bath ($40 for 20 minutes). Couples and groups can book the larger suites or alfresco cabanas for the Cupid's Arrow package ($280)—champagne toast, 50-minute couples massage, rose petal herb bath and 25 minutes in the private marble Turkish steam hammam—and Bridal Bachelorette Party—a day's worth of full-body spray tan, sugar scrub or massage, mani/pedi, topped with bubbly and strawberries. Of course, for the real rock star treatment, opt for the Rehab package ($200)—25 minutes in the hammam, a detoxifying seaweed wrap, 10 minutes of oxygen—a hangover cure-all from last night's boozing.

Tip: Prep for your massage with a 25 minute ($25) Turkish hammam, a steamheated room for detoxing the body and warming the muscles pre-treatment.

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West Hollywood

Willow Spa

Escape to Bali at this Santa Monica day spa. Beyond the mint green fence, enter the lush landscaped property where East meets West. Change into a cotton Thai top and bottom in the bare-bones locker room and start to unwind on the comfy alfresco seating with homemade ginger tea. Massage services range from 60 to 120 minutes with a menu of holistic signature treatments. We like the Thai and Zen-tastic (both $95 for 60 minutes) which had us snoozing in no time.

• Tip: Athletes (and the super tense) can loosen up with a sweat-as-you-go, enzyme bath followed by a sports massage ($124 for 1 hour).

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Santa Monica

Spa InterContinental

Escape to the InterContinental Century City’s spa for head-to-toe pampering. This hidden oasis may not have the most extravagant lounge or locker areas, but you'll be surrounded by luxury in the treatment villas. Don a plush cotton robe and slippers and your therapist will whisk you away to your designated private villa. You'll choose from a selection of aromatherapy massage oils to apply to your temples. The amenities are extensive: comfy treatment beds, a large shower, lounge area with TV, private restroom and a Kohler bathtub with light therapy. Whether you choose a body treatment such as a scrub, wrap or soak, be sure to pair it with a traditional Swedish massage (50 minute/$135), Shiatsu massage (50 minute/$140), or a Thai Herbal Bolus massage (50 minute/$150), where bolus filled with herbs are massaged into the body to relieve tension. For weary travelers, the Jetlag Restore massage (50 minute/$150) helps the body recover from aches through improved circulation. Check the website for weekly deals including 20% off treatments Monday-Friday for local residents. What’s more? In addition to access to the full hotel gym, the spa offers workout classes on the rooftop helipad, such as yoga and Zumba (free for hotel guests, $15 for non-hotel guests) and complimentary 2-hour valet parking with any spa visit.

• Tip: Ask for Alice. The veteran masseuse has magical hands that can expertly open any knot in your shoulders or even help a cold or sore throats through reflexology. Alice does wonders when it comes to relaxation, even reminding you to breathe through her deep tissue strokes.

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Century City

Nitespa

This cute little spa is tucked into a beach bungalow off Abbot Kinney, and it exudes that laid-back, beachy, Bohemian vibe. If you're looking for spacious, spic and span, or a steam room you're out of luck: Nitespa lives in a very charming old house the looks lived in. It's less haute and more hippie here: You can browse a rack of vintage beach wear, sip tea or wine, and have a tarot card reading while you wait for your treatment. You may want to stick to the body treatments here as the nail salon looks a little worse for wear—but that's fine, because you're really here for the massages. You'll be escorted into one of two back rooms (one for massage and Reiki, one for waxing and facials), with soothing music and soft, warm sheets on the table. The work done here is stellar. Nitespa is open from noon to midnight, which means you can get in some late-night pampering after work or before (or after!) dinner. A note from inside: Nitespa is a bit of a secret celebrity spot—you may find yourself rubbing shoulders (or getting your shoulders rubbed) next to someone famous.

• Tip: Make sure to ask for Paul, who just may give the best massage in Venice. He's attentive, responsive and—at the risk of any innuendo—his hands are huge and strong. Swoon.

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Mar Vista

Tikkun Holistic Spa

Westsiders don't have to trek to Koreatown for their jade stone sauna and body scrub beauty regimens. Nestled in a nondescript building off Third Street Promenade, the Santa Monica answer to a Korean day spa offers all the same services (minus the brute black lingerie-clad women) along with other full service treatments such as facials and body wraps. Those looking for tension relief should book a session with Dr. Hata for the best of East and West. He is trained in sports rehabilitation and his miracle hands and unorthodox approach can treat anything from tight muscles and soreness to chronic pain and autoimmune diseases. Prep for the intense deep tissue bodywork in the dry and wet sauna rooms. Post treatment, you’ll be so relaxed you'll wonder how you’ve never discovered this underground oasis before.

• Tip: Leave your worries, and your fashion sense at home—the spa provides a pair of drab cotton shorts and a T-shirt.

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Santa Monica

Splurge

The Spa at the Beverly Wilshire

Enter the iconic hotel's south tower and take the elevator to the hidden spa, where you'll feel miles away from bustling, tourist-heavy Rodeo Drive. The luxe spa pulls out all the stops leading up to your treatment—slip on a plush robe and slippers and head to the twinkling steamroom. Light therapy shines down from the ceiling and a crystal geode fills the room with soothing energy. You may have to wait for it, but the ice-cold rain shower (with three settings to choose from) is worth it. After prepping for your treatment, head to the relaxation room for tea, fruit, nuts and homemade dark chocolate. It's too easy to lose track of time in the dimly-lit quiet area. When it's time for your treatment, you'll pass the spa's pièce de résistance—a massive, glittering amethyst crystal geode placed in the middle of the spa for balanced energy. Stones play a motif throughout the spa, and in the acutal treatments. Natura Bisse's diamond products—including the Diamond Facial (90 Minutes/$415)—are some of the most in-demand treatments at the spa. For ultimate pampering, the Diamond Magnetic (90 minutes/$395) body ritual uses a diamond dust made of real crushed diamonds and magnets to soothe dry skin, re-balance your body's energy, and eliminate electromagnetic waste from clutching cell phones, laptops and other electronics. A head-to-toe massage follows the diamond treatment. Be sure to request the spa's lead therapist, Gillian Garcia, who will tell you all about the therapies and use European, Indian, Thai and Balinese philosophies to tap into your chakras for a most relaxing mind-body experience.

Tip:  Go big or go home! Splurge on a unique sensory experience. A Taste of Beauty pairs a 90-minute Natura Bisse spa treatment with a seven-course dinner by Chef Gilles, served in a private dining room. Perfect for spa parties (for the rich and famous)—this package starts at $1,500 per person and is available for parties of six to eight.

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The Ritz-Carlton Spa

Enter the Ritz-Carlton Spa at LA Live and you'll feel like you're in a swank loft in the heart of the city. Upon entering the spa, you're greeted with a glass of champagne or the beverage of the season—in spring, it's mint lemonade freshly made with lemons from the hotel's rooftop garden. Follow the “yellow brick road” that guides guests to the lockers, since the 8,000-square-foot hideout is a little tricky to navigate. Looking to get glammed up before heading out? Popular signature treatments include Red Carpet Ready (3 hours and 30 min/$450), a 50-minute boozy Champagne and Shimmer body treatment (the shimmer being a crème infused with 24K gold) and Ageless Beauty facial, plus manicure, pedicure, hair styling and make-up application. Make sure to set aside enough time when you visit to enjoy the facilities—the men’s and women’s locker rooms include private relaxation areas, eucalyptus steam rooms and cold plunge showers. Once you’re ready for your treatment, leave some time to unwind in the co-ed Sanctuary, where flat screens overhead shuffle through nature photography. Relax on the beds and snack on nuts, dried fruit and sip tea. The spa also offers seasonal Garden to Glamorous treatments, incorporating herbs and produce from the hotel’s rooftop garden with top-of-the-line products. In the spring, opt for the Lemondrop Body Treatment (50 min/$140 or 80 min/$200), a head-to-toe pampering using freshly picked products. The Lemondrop begins with that mint lemonade, followed by an exfoliating lemon-sugar scrub using fresh zest, and a Jurlique citrus mist and mini-massage using a blend of lemon crème and lemon-infused massage oil. Ask for the very in-demand Russell, whose hands are strong and skilled enough to open those pesky shoulder knots. Following the treatment, which you’ll never want to end, sip on a special blend of lemon tea brought to you in an individualized glass teapot in the Sanctuary. The cherry—er, lemon—on top is the crumbly homemade lemon butter cookie given to you at checkout. You'll savor the treatment long after you’ve left the spa.

• Tip: For $30 more, add a treatment enhancement including hot oil scalp massage, micro-current cellulite treatment, lavish foot treatment or anti-aging hand treatment.

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Downtown

Sea Wellness

This serene, lovely spa is tucked into Casa del Mar, one of the nicest hotels along the beach in Santa Monica. And we do mean tucked—an elevator brings you to the fourth floor where you'll walk past guest rooms until the spa doors appear like an opening in a maze. Once inside, you'll be taken to a dimly lit waiting area with lemon water, warm green tea (heated by tealight candles!) and comfy chairs. The spacious changing room has a single shower that converts into a mini steam room. You'll put on a soft, heavy robe and seemingly brand-new Haviana flip-flops to wear to your treatment. And you're definitely in for a treat: Even the basic, 60-minute massage is heaven (be sure to ask for Dana), but the menu offers such luxuries as a Hydrafacial (no harsh chemicals or lasers), hot stone massage and a firming citrus body treatment. If you're really in the mood to splurge, try the Diamond Magnetic Body Ritual, which uses mud spiked with diamond dust to eliminate the effects of electromagnetic pollution—we're not 100% sure about this one, but getting a diamond rubdown does sound pretty nice.

Tip: Certain treatments are available oceanside, so be sure to ask if you'd like your treatment alfresco. And for the men, try a Gents Facial, inspired by techniques used by old-school barbers to sooth a razorburned face.

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Santa Monica

The Spa at Terranea

Take a mini staycation on the Palos Verdes Peninsula at the Terranea resort and spa. Perched above the Pacific, the hotel is the ideal getaway. Make it a real getaway with a round of golf, jog on the beach and then head to the spa to unwind. The sprawling 50,000-square-foot spa facility is a destination in and of itself. It has a boutique, pool, cafe and gym, with free fitness classes. Open-air spin, anyone? We can guarantee the spa's ocean front terrace is an improvement on the poshest of spin studios in LA. Make sure you enjoy steam rooms, women's and men's lounges as well as outdoor cold plunge pools and Jacuzzis on the grounds. Large parties are welcomed—the spa even has a group spa menu and wedding party packages. Follow your therapist to the second floor—the spa boasts 25 treatment rooms and three VIP suites—to the first door on the left. Opt for the Ocean Prelude (120 min/$375), a full-body treatment that incorporates elements from the sea.The Ocean Prelude takes places in an airy room with a bronze-cast bathtub, two treatment beds and the pièce de résistance—a balcony with a stunning ocean view. The soundtrack to your treatment will waft in on a salty breeze. The rather lengthy treatment starts with dry brushing to promote circulation and is followed by a bright-green seaweed wrap (not recommended for the claustrophobic), where your body is wrapped in a Mylar cocoon to absorb the nutrients from the seaweed. Once unwrapped, relax in a saltwater soak before your full-body massage. We can't imagine you'll want to leave the spa after that, so relax in one of the lounges for the rest of the day.

Tip: Plan to stay all day and start the morning with yoga and complimentary fitness classes. Indulge even more and make it a weekend getaway—the new oceanfront Bungalows at Terranea are the perfect base from which to enjoy daily complimentary breakfast and lunch from the Spa Café in between treatments.

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Rancho Palos Verdes/Rolling Hills Estates

LeSpa

LeSpa is a beautiful spa attached to the Sofitel, though, unlike some other hotel spas, you don't need to go through the hotel lobby to get to it. It has a separate entrance, which is nice. Everything at LeSpa is thoughtful, from the uber-comfy chairs in the waiting area to baggies in each locker to keep jewelry safe.  Fresh flowers rest at the head of the massage table and their scent will linger throughout your treatment. The massages here are top-notch—the therapist's hands will never leave you, and hot towels keep you warm during treatment. Everything is up to you—the lighting, the music, the pressure (of course), and the staff is gracious and accommodating. If you're feeling extra decadent, add on a hydrotherapy bath. Soak surrounded by candles and fresh flowers, and take your time primping and preening in your own private changing room.

Tip: For massage treatments, be sure to ask for Tej. A seasoned therapist, she'll pamper you in a way that's almost motherly.

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Fairfax/Beverly/La Brea/Third St.

Comments

1 comments
James H
James H

All these places look wonderful in pictures, but do you know the experience and ethics of the person operating on your skin matters the most. It is correct that advantages of getting wellness massage in spa are far bigger than what an average person may think of, but real advantage comes when you select a spa from customer reviews.