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.
- Price band: 3/4
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.
- West Hollywood
- Price band: 2/4
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).
- Santa Monica
- Price band: 3/4
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.
- Century City
- Price band: 2/4
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.
- Price band: 2/4
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.
- Santa Monica