Thrifty District: Reduced-Price Relaxation

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‘you need time for you’
courtesy of ‘dMap Travel Guide’

You can go ahead an insert the obligatory comments about the horrible economy plus how stressful everyone’s jobs are at the moment, and therefore make the obvious case for the increased need for stress-reducing treatments. Duh. You know my intro already. But let’s be realistic in our cost benefit analysis – is $120 for a massage going to make you feel better or worse about your financial situation? Right, you’re rolling your eyes, that’s what I thought.

But just because you can’t afford it doesn’t mean you don’t still need it. So I’m here to help you, friend, find a cheaper ticket to stress-less-ville. I’ve got a few cost-saving tips if you want to go to a professional spa, and then a few quick ideas and links if you’re up for a do it yourself spa session.

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So the first thing I think when someone says spa is massage. I was wary at first (You want me naked? on that table? rubbed down by a stranger? Awkward!) but am a total massage convert after having an incredibly relaxing session (and non-awkward) session at Solarus Salon in Court House. But the thing is, I cannot spend a million dollars on an hour of pampering. Truly, it’s not in my budget, and if it’s in yours, consider yourself lucky. So how can those of us without millions snag a massage on the cheap?

The first place to get a steal is Massage Envy. Granted, this is a price you can only take advantage of (theoretically) once – but you can get an hour long massage for $49. Their “get started” deal is available for your first appointment, and if you’re willing to maintain your game face and resist while they pressure you to join, it’s quite a deal!

My second suggestion is to check the Spa Week web site, even when it is not spa week.  (Like it is this week. But if you’re just now hearing about Spa Week you’re likely too late, it’s practically all booked up!) And this extends beyond just massages, you can snag hair, body, face, nail and other treatments using this site.  They have “steals and deals” from area salons and spas going year round, and post the deals a month at a time. Right now? Soul Day Spa has their Spa Week deals going all month long- Your Choice of a 45 Min Champagne and Rosebud Sugar Scrub, 45 Min Champagne and Lavender Aromatherapy Facial, 45 Min Champagne and Lavender Aromatherapy Massage or 60 Min Grape Seed Manicure and Pedicure. Each session is only $50. Also on the steals and deals site are spas in Virginia and Maryland that are extending the Spa Week session, but keep checking back throughout the year for other deals not related to Spa Week.

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‘Le Centre Sheraton Pool’
courtesy of ‘runJMrun’

The web site Spa Finder has the ability to sort spas by price, and they also host a listing of Spa Deals. Handy. As with all things like this, I would call to confirm the spa is still participating in the deals and ask again during check-in, just to confirm you’re getting the service and price you think you are.

So those are suggestions for the treatments, but what if all you really want is a good soak in a jacuzzi and some quality time in the sauna? If you’re like me, the sauna at Gold’s Gym just isn’t cutting it. But with a little creativity, relaxation is yours! High-end spas, like the Mandarin Oriental, offer very very pricey spa treatments, but will allow guests with any spa treatment booking into their spa reception area. So if you book the $65 foot relaxation treatment (the cheapest thing I could find) you’ll be allowed access before and after your treatment to the myriad of relaxation “Heat and Water” experiences like the vitality pools, experience showers, steam room and sauna, as well as zen relaxation rooms and the swimming pool. So that $65 foot treatment becomes an afternoon of total relaxation. (Side note to my friends reading this: lets go. Seriously.) Other spas in the area with extensive relaxation areas are likely to offer the same access, so with a little research you’re off on a days worth of relaxation for relatively cheap.

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’33/ 365 — Paint ‘em red; it’s February!’
courtesy of ‘vanhookc’

The second path to relaxation? DIY spa treatments.

There are plenty of recipes online for treatments for yourself from head to toe – from a facial mask to a foot soak, the interwebs are a virtual online encyclopedia of treatments. You can find the perfect one to fit your budget.

If you’re looking to throw a spa party with girlfriends, you’re also in luck on the interwebs. There are plenty of  party guides that I won’t even try and repeat. It seems like all you need to do is craft up cute invitations, find said spa recipes, and invite your friends over for some mani/pedis and spa food and tea. Rinse and repeat, while relaxing.

Now I realize that wasn’t totally comprehensive (I’m the food writer, cut me some slack), and some of you might be total experts on all things spa so please do share! Know of a steal I didn’t mention? Do tell! Have a favorite facial mix you swear by? Leave it in the comments.

Katie moved to DC in 2007, and has since embarked upon a love affair with the city. She’s an education reform advocate and communications professional during the day; at night and on the weekends, she’s an owner here at We Love DC. Katie has high goals to eat herself through the entire city, with only her running shoes to save her from herself. For up-to-the-minute news and reviews (among other musings), follow her on Twitter!

10 thoughts on “Thrifty District: Reduced-Price Relaxation

  1. What, Addison, you can’t get massages, or log on to spa week/spa finder? The interwebs aren’t just for women, you know. ;) I promise Massage Envy takes men clients. Plus, the Mandarin Oriental actually has some relaxation rooms just for men — the warm plunge pool and sauna are “gentleman only”. Lucky.

  2. Great article. It also helps to go to a spa’s website and see if they’re having monthly deals. This is true for lots of area spas such as SomaFit and Hela.

  3. I thought the choice of location for that Art of Shaving store showed some chutzpah. That said, their products and my skin don’t get along at all, so the Grooming Lounge still gets my local dollars. Which reminds me I need to grab a tub or two of shaving cream soon.

  4. That occurred to me too, fedward. It occurs to me that DC is *plenty* big enough for two high-end grooming places catering to men, but putting in a location of your chain across the street from the locally-owned place is… a challenge. Is there really no other part of DC that would benefit from the availability of a really good shave?

  5. It is quite a bit of chutzpah (great choice of words), but we’ll take the Pepsi challenge anyday for our combination of technical and customer service. Come visit and see what we can do. Thanks.

  6. I tried The Grooming Lounge for the first time for a haircut last month, and it was incredibly relaxing. Went back a week ago for a shave and a cut, and it was better than the best massage or spa treatment.

    Between the great service, environment, and products, they get my dollars at the top of every month.

  7. Great article, KatieT! I just saw a news piece today on the rise in shootings and they said it was related to the stress everyone is experiencing n this economy. And I couldn’t help but think of that when I read your opening to the article and how stress relieving a massage can be. There’s definitely some health benefits to the spa experience that’s why I think it’s one of the industries that will do better then most during these hard times.