In what might just be the next wave of on-demand apps, bringing services and goods straight to your door, companies are offering up trained, vetted, and licensed massage therapists—table included—all for a price similar to what you’d shell out in a spa.
It sounds both cool (we’re fans of anything that means staying home) and slightly weird (welcoming a stranger into your home and stripping down to your underwear), so we took two of the biggest national services, Zeel and Soothe, for a test run. The bottom line: the technology was easy to use and the therapists were very professional. Plus, it was surprisingly relaxing to be in your living room after a massage—no extra travel time means you can go from massage to wine (or sleep) in five minutes flat. The apps are great for the end of a stressful workweek (you can book as little as an hour out, or in advance), or as a gift for Mother’s Day or a new parent who’s too busy to get out of the house. They’ll even send someone to a hotel room while you’re traveling. Here’s what we learned from our test drive:
The company: Zeel
Where they’re available: 24 U.S. metro areas, including NYC tri-state, San Francisco Bay area, Greater Los Angeles area, Washington, D.C., and more (get the full list here).
What they offer: Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, prenatal massage, sports massage, couples massage, chair massages.
Pricing: Varies by market—in Chicago, for instance, a 60-minute massage is $116.82. Gratuity is included.
Need to know: You supply your own sheets for Zeel—the therapist brings the table (make sure you have enough room cleared for it to be set up upon arrival).
The ease factor: All customers have their identities vetted with either the last four digits of their social security numbers or their photo IDs. When it didn’t work for me at first, I immediately got a text from someone at Zeel to help. I then booked a massage that afternoon for later in the evening through the app.
The weird factor: Once your massage is booked (you can opt to give a gender preference), you receive an email that includes a photo, name, and state license number for your therapist (kind of like Uber). Knowing who to expect helps to ease the jitters associated with having a stranger enter your home.
Good to know: Zeel also offers a membership program—they ship you a (free) massage table so your therapist doesn’t have to drag it to your home every time. You then get one massage a month for 12 months, at a discounted rate of about 20 percent off (credits can roll over month to month).
The company: Soothe
Where they’re available: 22 U.S. cities, plus Vancouver, British Columbia and London (get the full list here).
What they offer: Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, prenatal massage, sports massage, couples massage.
Pricing: $99 for a 60-minute massage (except New York, where the price is $129). Gratuity is included.
Need to know: The massage therapists bring both the sheets and the table (again, make sure you have enough room for them to set up).
The ease factor: While the app itself is easy to use, it had some technical glitches so I ended up booking on their website. I booked my appointment when I was leaving work at 7 p.m., and the massage therapist showed up at my apartment an hour later!
The weird factor: I didn’t know who was going to be coming to my door ahead of time, which made me a little nervous at first. You can choose the gender of your therapist if you want—and the woman who showed up was extremely professional. A few minutes in, I forgot I was at home!
Good to know: Soothe plans to open in 20 new markets by the end of 2016.