Some Really Wonderful Local Gift Certificate Locales
Olympic Spa: Truly a Los Angeles institution, this Korean bathhouse is traditional and wonderful. For women only, this no frills spa has three steam rooms, two jacuzzis (one loaded with something called Anjelica, which seems to combat bloat), a cold plunge, and a heated stone floor for napping. It also features older Korean women wandering around in black bras and panties (sound glamourous, but trust me, it's not), throwing clients down onto tables, scrubbing all the dead skin off their bodies, strewing cucumbers on faces and massaging them into submission. There's NO sentimentality here, NO new age music, NO fancy smelly oils. Just you, your torturer, and your dead skin coming off. In the end, you'll be a smooth as a baby's behind. Get your giftee a certificate for a scrub and mini-massage. They'll thank you. Word of warning: this gift is not for the inhibited, since everyone except the employees are naked. No swimsuits allowed.
3915 W. Olympic Blvd.
R4U Spa: Thai massage has finally hit big time in L.A., and R4U is one of the best. Up in a mini-mall on Hollywood Blvd., R4U is surprisingly nice. They offer regular and Thai massage, but when in Thai Town... you get the drift. Thai massage is performing on clothed bodies, and they supply loose fitting pants and tops, as you lie in a dark room, being pulled and stretched by a tiny masseuse into impossible positions. One emerges refreshed and relaxed rather than pummeled. And did I mention the price? Around $45 for an hour. That's a great deal. Plus, there's the added bonus of hopping across the street to Ord Noodle and picking up a bowl of spice afterward. Perfect.
5300 Hollywood Blvd.
Arielle at Club Prive: I've mentioned Arielle a lot on this blog. That's because L.A. might be full of facialists, but truly excellent facialists are rare. Arielle is that rare and treasured person, who leaves your skin glowing and clean, but not brutalized. It really is an hour and a half of bliss, including fabulous French face products and hot rock massage. She places your hands in the heat mitts so they're soft and supple, too. I can't count how many times I've drifted off lying back on her table. Really, give an Arielle facial to someone you love. They'll love you back, I promise.
Man Han Tang: Asian foot massages are the hottest new thing around here. "Foot" is sort of a misnomer, since it's almost a full body massage whilst fully clothed. At Man Han Tang, your tootsies soak in a big wooden tub of tea mixture as you lean forward onto piles of pillows, receiving a shoulder and back massage. After twenty minutes, you're flipped onto your back, your head, face and arms are rubbed, and then the foot portion begins. And oh my, what a wonderful feeling. There's really nothing better. And afterwards, you and the lucky giftee can hop across Western for a margarita and nachos at El Cholo. At twenty bucks a pop, this is truly affordable luxury. Buy a certificate for foot rubs in bulk. And be sure to tip, because these employees work hard.
1120 S. Western Ave.