Tucked next to an unreal French bakery in Beverly Hills (Chaumont-best croissants in town!) is an unassuming brick building that houses Tomoko Spa, otherwise known as the best massage in L.A., or so I’ve been told. I’ve heard the name whispered here and there, but despite the numerous tales of blissful relaxation, I never felt an urgency to bite the bullet and book. Then, on New Year’s Eve, a friend started talking about her experience, only to cut herself off mid-description: “I can’t do it justice talking about it. If you know, you know”. I booked an appointment almost immediately.
The day of the massage, I was greeted with a pair of adorable slippers, lead into a pre-treatment relation area for a pot of freshly brewed tea, then promptly directed into a private room. Eschewing the traditional ‘locker room’ format (always awkward, I’m not a fan), the minimalist space where you get your massage also has its own shower, closet, bath, vanity, etc., like the most luxurious hotel suite that you will never want to leave.
After disrobing and re-robing into a silky soft Japanese robe set, the process starts with a 15-minute hot foot massage (really more of a foot wash, but I’m nitpicky), complimented by a eucalyptus towel wrapped around your neck to set the mood. The treatment itself- I opted for the namesake Tomoko Massage- is surprisingly comfortable, at least for most of it. If you’re ‘tense’ like me, during the last few minutes when they ramp up the intensity, you might fluctuate between wishing you never came and cursing the name of your massage therapist. They sweeten the pot with post-massage herbal tea and mochi ice cream, but the real benefits start rolling in hours after you’ve left. In the days since my appointment, I’ve slept better than I have in months and I have more energy during the day, probably due to the sudden loss of tension I’ve been unknowingly carrying in my neck and shoulders.
There’s no easy way to stomach the treatment prices, but I’m never one to discount the healing power of an hour of me-time. Being greeted with ice cream and tea after lying down for an hour in a state of semi-zen is also preferable to pretty much… anything. And of course, there are other, less indulgent options out there, but I’ll always play devil’s advocate when the results are this good.