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Pleasure and Pain

Massages from hard to soft.


  • Relax

    716 Greenwich St., 212-206-9714

    Deep Tissue ($90 to $110)
    Owner Rick Sharpell’s deep-tissue treatment is used by injury-prone athletes, but it’s also perfect for stressed-out New Yorkers who think it’s not a real massage unless you cry. He improves circulation and flexibility, eases knots, and helps dislodge built-up lactic acid—great if you work out a lot.


  • Remède Spa at the St. Regis Hotel

    2 E. 55th St., 212-339-6715

    The Remède Customized Massage ($80 to $230)
    The technicians here do not ask how your day went or if you’re visiting the city; they simply want to know “how’s the pressure?” The pressure, which will be applied using techniques drawn from shiatsu, deep-tissue, and Swedish massage, can be as intense as you ask for. The result: serious muscle relief that feels almost medical.


  • Essential Therapy

    122 E. 25th St., 212-777-2325

    Swedish Massage ($100)
    At this serene, Indian-themed studio, former New York Mets masseuse Carlos Arague will stay well away from pressure points. Arague’s “make-nice massage,” as he calls it, consists mainly of long, smoothing strokes from the neck to lower back. It’s enough to put you to sleep, at least until the essential-oil scalp massage wakes you up, fully refreshed.


  • The Spa at Mandarin Oriental

    80 Columbus Circle, 212-805-8880

    Oriental Harmony ($750)
    It’s listed at two hours, but block out half a day. Pre-treatment, warm up in the turbo-charged Jacuzzi pool; afterward, gaze at the 35-story view from the relaxation lounge. The treatment starts with a calming foot bath, followed by a gentle body scrub, then a rinsing shower; an hour of trance-inducing four-handed massage is the almost weightless coup de grâce.

From the 2006 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine

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Other Best Of Guides

So what exactly does “best” mean in a city with thousands of pizza joints, hundreds of celebrity masseuses, and museum-worthy concept shops on every corner? Well, in the case of this, our annual “Best of New York” roundup, there’s a heavy emphasis on what’s new or what has somehow remained virtually unheard of (until now, of course).