You might not always look back on your first time so fondly—maybe it was uncomfortable, or a little painful, or you only did it because you felt like everyone else was doing it. But you’ll always remember your best. The one that got all the kinks out, gave you tingles from head to toe, and left you all blissed out and loosey goosey. We’re talking about the best massage ever, of course. And if you haven’t had yours yet, here are 18 suggestions for where you can.
The Cheap Ones
Tentative to trust a hole-in-the-wall place with your disrobed, supine body? Go somewhere pre-vetted.
“Massages are important to me—I really like this place over here by my house called Pure Qi. It's amazing, it's secretly infamous. They're just so good, and it's really affordable, and they really know their stuff.” —Pamela Love
“I go to Fishion Herb Center on the Lower East Side. It's this hole-in-the-wall guy. He puts a blanket over you and it’s just like [snoring sound]. He just beats you up—like, intense. He walks on you.” —Lazaro Hernandez
“I've been going to this place in Chinatown that's no frills at all. It's called Grand Nature. They do reflexology and bodywork, but they really know what they're doing. A lot of yoga teachers go there because it's like an athletic massage.” —Jenn Tardif
The One To Splurge On, If You’re Going To
All signs point to the Greenwich Hotel.
“I love going for a massage, too. It's hard to implement, but it feels like it should be a bigger part of my routine. The Shibui Spa at the Greenwich Hotel has a shiatsu that is the best massage I've ever had.” —Stacy Martin
“I get massages all the time. That’s an expensive habit, but I can't help it. It depends on my mood—sometimes I’ll do deep tissue, sometimes I’ll just want to relax and do a Swedish massage. Sometimes I’ll do the lymphatic drainage. I love it. Sometimes they’ll do the ones that are stretchy and you’ll feel like you left Yoga class. The Greenwich Hotel is right here, so I’ll just run over and go get a massage and sit by the pool.” —Leslie Fremar
The Ones To Get When You’re Abroad
*The most relaxing massage is always a vacation massage, so we won’t blame you for planning around it. *
“I get massages regularly at a place called Natalie’s in Playa del Carmen. I see this woman, Rocio, who’s been my massage therapist now for three years. I pay 600 pesos for 90 minutes. That’s like 30 bucks. She gives me the best deep-tissue, make-me-sick-to-my-stomach massage. You walk out and you’re dizzy. It's great.” —Diane Dimeo
“In Germany we have something called Dorn massage, where they put you on a machine, and the man or woman goes along your spine, pressing the little bones. If I have half a day off, I always book a massage.” —Larissa Hofmann
“I do love massages in beautiful places—I was in Venice with my son for the Biennale, and I went to the Bauer Hotel for a massage, and it was amazing. I’m going to my friend Irene’s 40th birthday party in Mexico at the end of October and I’ve already booked a 90-minute massage at some place I’ve never heard of—it’s called the Hotel Matilda. That’s a very decadent gesture.” —Sally Singer
The Ones That Are Basically Physical Therapy
Less of a luxury, more of a necessity.
“[I do] physio or massage or acupuncture—not every day, but probably every other. For massage, I see a lot of people at Manhattan Physio Group, but Michelle Rodriguez is an amazing physical therapist. She’s the best.” —David Hallberg
“I’ve had two knee surgeries, so since then I definitely need [massage]. I feel like in LA there are more places that are approachable and more affordable. This place in LA called Tomoko is the most spectacular spa that was ever invented and I’m dying for them to come here. It’s in Beverly Hills. A girl that went to high school with me designed it with her mom, and it’s so spectacular—so understated and gorgeous, and one of the best massages I’ve ever had.” —Camilla Marcus
“People only talk about massage in two ways—going for a massage, or going for a sports massage. For me, it’s kind of a combination of both. I have this guy, Mr. Kim—he’s at Black Label Salon in the Financial District. You don’t even need to go in and be like, ‘I’m sore here, here, and here,’ because he just kind of judges you when you come in and he gets it all out.” —Kirsty Godso
The One With All The Tingles
Two words: head massage.
“My go-to spa in New York City is Pratima Spa. I bow down to Pratima, she started a movement. I do Abhyanga massage and Shirodhara, the head oil massage. That is a treatment to impart relaxation and clarity—they drop hot oil on the top of your head and it just melts down. But you know how it feels to get a little rub on the top of your head, and it just goes to your core and your toes? It's very orgasmic.” —Tanaïs
The Full-day Experience
Come for the massage, stay for the soaks and snacks.
“When I get a chance, I like to go to this really low-key spa called Organic Mama Spa on Allen Street. They get booked, but you can call a day before to see if there are any cancellations. I get massages pretty frequently because I’m standing and lifting. Downstairs they have a Jacuzzi, a steam room and a bunch of showers, but no one is ever there, so I can hang out.” —Angela Dimayuga
“I will go to a Korean spa every once and a while—that’s my favorite. A hundred bucks, you’re in, you get a body scrub, and you can spend the whole afternoon. There’s one called Olympic Spa with all these different baths and a Himalayan salt sauna that’s not too hot. I like the massages. And the food!” —Malin Akerman
The One That Got Away
You’ll probably never stop dreaming about it.
“The best massage I’ve ever gotten was in Toronto, by a man named Alan. I’m still looking for that guy. Alan? Alan? I will never forget him. I had been working out too much and not stretching, so my glutes were in pain. Somebody told me I had to go to this place, and I get on the phone like, ‘Are you comfortable massaging glutes? After I got on this whole rant about massaging my butt, I get there, and I see like he’s six-foot-five. And he did massage my butt, but only with his elbows. The rest of the massage was the best I’ve ever gotten. Alan, if you’re reading this, I’m looking for you. Drop into my DMs.” —Tara Lynn
Photo via ITG