RECOMMENDED: See this year's New York spas guide
Greenhouse Holistic Spa: Hot-stone massage
88 Roebling St at North 7th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-599-3113, greenhouseholistic.com). 60-minute massage regularly $80. TONY deal Mention TONY when booking for 10 percent off a 60- or 90-minute hot-stone massage through Feb 15.
After discussing my various aches, lead massage therapist and founder David Greenhouse rubbed me down from head to toe, using heated massage stones to relax my muscles. Though his firm kneading caused me to grit my teeth at times, I could feel the deep-seated knots in my shoulders and upper back giving way.
Best part: My keyboard-based day job leads to pent-up stress in my shoulders, while my waitressing gig causes tightness in my legs. Greenhouse eased the stiffness in my upper body and still had time to soothe my sore calves.
Why it's worth it: The therapists do their best to help you decompress even after you leave: Greenhouse showed me stretches I could do at home to relieve my tension.—Marley Lynch
Bellissimo Hair Spa: Full-body Swedish massage
29-07 39th Ave at 29th St, Astoria, Queens (718-937-7773, bellissimohairspa.com). $70.
The soft-spoken technician at this pretense-free spot was skilled, focused and thorough, applying the perfect amount of pressure and variation on my limbs, back, fingers and toes. As the owner, Raul Mesias, explained afterward, traditional Swedish massage has a top-to-tail focus, so the session included both foot reflexology and a cranial rub.
Best part: I didn't think I needed a facial massage, but the technician was able to untangle two previously unrecognized knots of stress above my cheekbones.
Why it's worth it: Similar one-hour treatments can cost quite a bit more in Manhattan, making this no-frills joint worth the trip.—Michael Martin
Asia Tui-Na Wholeness: Deep-tissue massage
37 E 28th St between Madison and Park Aves, suite 800 (212-686-8082, asiatuinawholeness.com). 60-minute massage regularly $60. TONY deal Mention TONY when booking for $5 off this service; new customers only.
Although the setting is slightly clinical, this massage holds its own against one at a ritzy resort. My therapist, Elaine, warmed up my back with a towel, using forceful head-to-toe movements (a signature of this modality, which emphasizes rhythmic compressions) before implementing long, kneading strokes that popped several joints in my back, neck and ankles. To conclude the hour, she scooted a hot bag of herbs from my neck down to my lower back and removed any residual oils with a warm, damp cloth.
Best part: After correctly guessing that my extremely tense neck and shoulders were from sitting at a computer all day, Elaine returned to the area multiple times to ensure that every last knot was eradicated.
Why it's worth it: Besides the seriously low price, this massage will leave you euphoric for days.—Sarah Rammos
Season Spa: Aromatherapy massage
165 Hester St between Elizabeth and Mott Sts (212-966-7416, seasonspa-nyc.com). Regularly $68. TONY deal Mention TONY when booking to get this treatment for $55 through Feb 29.
Before the treatment, massage therapist and spa manager Jennifer Wong offered a selection of four rotating aromatic oils (which are imported from Shanghai and Guangzhou in China) and explained the benefits of each scent. I opted for jasmine for relaxation and was quickly transported from wintertime Manhattan to a balmy South Pacific garden.
Best part: The hour-long treatment incorporates elements of Swedish, deep-tissue and tui na techniques, based on what each area of the body needs. In my case, it meant both targeted kneading of knots behind my shoulder blades and heavy, sustained pressure for my hamstrings and calves—achieved when Wong climbed up on the table and channeled her body weight through her knees.
Why it's worth it: At the end of the session, my muscles felt not only soothed but therapeutically tuned up, and a tension-melting head massage during the last ten minutes left this overcaffeinated insomniac snoring.—Carolyn Stanley
Spring Thyme Day Spa: Anma massage
40 Exchange Pl between Nassau and Williams Sts (212-385-4973, springthymeny.com). $80. TONY deal Mention TONY for 15 percent off any massage treatment, 30 percent off any facial or body treatment or a $45 acupuncture session and free consultation (normally $120) through April 26.
Relaxing massages are luxurious, no doubt. But to handle the constant challenges of work and parenting, what my body really needed was a serious energy boost. Spring Thyme cofounder and massage therapist Philip Lam first looked at my tongue and then deeply into my eyes for signs of toxins, which alert the practitioner to any troubled organs. Then I laid facedown on a narrow table, fully clothed in a T-shirt and sweatpants, for an intense session of Anma massage courtesy of Lam's strong, nimble hands. With directed pressure, Lam activated points from my shoulders to my toes in a way that pushed my pain envelope but also realigned my body's entire flow of energy.
Best part: Lam's initial focus on my essential-organ meridians—those of the heart, lungs and kidneys, which are accessed at different points on the upper back—released a searing heat that was exactly what my body needed.
Why it's worth it: The 50-minute session, though hardly what one could call pleasant or relaxing, left me energized and supremely awake, as though my consciousness had just been zapped into sharp focus.—Lee Magill
Metamorphosis Spa: Aromatherapy massage
127 E 56th St between Park and Lexington Aves, fifth floor (212-751-6051, metspa.com). Regularly $150. TONY deal Mention TONY when booking for $50 off this service through April 1.
After placing a glass bowl of mixed essential oils—cypress, juniper, bergamot, orange and rosemary—underneath my face, masseuse Andrea Nieto got to work kneading the same oils into my exhausted body. Though it was almost overwhelming at first, a few deep breaths of the scent perked me up, even more than my daily dose of caffeine. Nieto also gave me a small tissue dotted with the same combination as I walked out the door "for a quick pick-me-up." Over the next few days, a quick whiff of the potent tissue boosted my energy on the spot.
Best part: As kids, my sister and I would stretch by pulling on each other's limbs. The technique Nieto used to gently tug on my arms and legs was similar but more relaxing, and it released tension and knots I didn't even know I had.
Why it's worth it: I walked in to the spa feeling depleted from a few taxing days; I left it relaxed, recharged and ready to take on a new week right then and there.—Marcy Franklin
Thai New York Spa and Salon: 60-minute Thai massage
23-92 21st St between 23rd Terr and 24th Ave, Astoria, Queens (718-932-0999, thainewyorkspa.com). 60min $79. TONY deal Mention TONY for 10 percent off massages through Feb 29.
My stiff shoulders started to soften just minutes into this intense rubdown, courtesy of the centuries-old kneading techniques applied by therapist Kan. She spared no maneuver to banish my body's tension: At different points throughout the massage, Kan Prasertsri kneeled on the table to bend and stretch my legs, and straddled my hamstrings while prodding my lower back.
Best part: The massage isn't the only draw: The spa provides comfy pants and shirts for clients to wear, and I could drink the sweet ginger tea served pre- and post-massage by the gallon.
Why it's worth it: There's no one-treatment-fits-all mantra here. Prasertsri took note of my most problematic pains, melting them away with the perfect amount of pressure.—Leah Faye Cooper
Townhouse Spa: Couples Combination Massage
39 W 56th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-245-8006, townhousespa.com). Regularly $270. TONY deal Mention TONY when booking for 20 percent off the Duo Package through Feb 29.
In a lavender-oil-infused couples room, massage therapist Giselda Anyz expertly combined two of the spa's signature massage styles—the customized pressure of the Townhouse Relaxation with the stretch-and-pull method of the Eastern Meridian, which also incorporates pressure points—to leave me feeling as limber as a jellyfish. Another technician, Carol Park, zeroed in on my fianc's stiff right shoulder, determined to rid him of a particularly stubborn knot by using her elbows and Juara candlenut cream.
Best part: Even though the massage lasted a full hour, Anyz encouraged me to prolong my mini getaway by enjoying the steam room and luxurious showers in the women's dressing area.
Why it's worth it: The dimly lit room set a serene tone for our side-by-side rubdowns; we departed refreshed and reconnected after a grueling day.—Mona Lisa Macalino
Setai Wall Street: Signature massage
40 Broad St at Exchange Pl, third floor (212-792-6193, setaiclubnewyork.com). $185. TONY deal Mention TONY when booking or at appointment for 10 percent off any treatment through Feb 8.
You may find yourself avoiding the Financial District unless you live or work there, but the one-hour signature massage at this sleek spa is worth braving the crush of commuters for a midweek appointment. Spa treatment manager Manny Ramirez spoke with me about my problem areas and inquired about any injuries. He confidently worked the tension out of my body, often quietly checking in about the pressure, the temperature of the table and my comfort level.
Best part: I thought my lower back was the real trouble, but Ramirez took account of my sore leg muscles, burned out from running, and smoothed the tension away with a series of rhythmic techniques.
Why it's worth it: Depending on your time constraints, the signature massage can be booked for 30, 60 or 90 minutes, and warm-stone ($55) or aromatherapy treatments ($25) can be added on based on your needs. You're welcome to hang in the tea suite after your treatment for as long as you'd like (herbal drinks, truffles and a selection of pretty art books await), and patrons are also free to access the Thermal Heat Lounge, featuring aromatherapy-infused steam, a Jacuzzi and sauna.—Sharon Steel