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I was so ready when she arrived. Naked, a little tipsy, wearing only a robe, I had gotten a fire blazing in the fireplace and some Zen tunes in the background. And when she did show up at my house, she was exactly what I ordered. She came in, got down to business with just the right mix of care and irreverence.
No, she was not order an escort. She was a masseuse. No really, an actual trained, no-happy-endings massage therapist. And I had ordered her like a pizza via Soothe, an app I now think of as basically the Uber of massage (without the complaints of price gouging on holidays).
Here’s the deal: I’m not great with apps. I use maybe seven of them and two belong to Google, so I’m no app hound slash techie. But I discovered Soothe is both easy to use and, because I live in one of the regions where it’s available, it’s great for when I’m home and when I’m traveling for work or play, and it’s very popular with LGBT customers already.
This year old massage-on-demand service (which can be accessed via the Soothe app or online at Soothe.com) is available in much of Southern California (Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange County); Austin, Texas; Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona; Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach, Florida. New York is coming soon.
And it’s super easy. You can order via Soothe.com, via the Soothe iOS app, or, for you old schoolers, by calling their toll-free number (800.960.7668). You just pick one of three massages (Swedish, deep tissue, or sports) and how long you want it to be (60, 90, or 120 minutes). You tell Soothe where to deliver (hotel rooms, offices, homes are all fine—heck they’ll meet you beachside if you pay and give accurate directions) and when to be there.
If you want it delivered immediately, you have to wait 60 minutes for arrival. But that’s it. No salon appointments, no booking four days ahead to work out last night’s kinks. Even at midnight, you just log on, order, and wait 60 minutes. I spent that time soaking in a hot tub.
My therapist Sande, who has been with the company since it was founded in 2013, raves about it from a worker’s perspective (unlike at salons, massage therapists with Soothe keep 60% of the booking) and from the customer’s perspective. She says that Soothe does plenty of outside-the-box stuff, beyond the usual couple’s massages (which you can book on the app at any time). They’ve done gay and straight wedding showers where the couples and all their wedding party got massages at the rehearsal dinner, engagement party, or night before the big day. There are endless girlfriends getaways. There are tons of poolside, outdoor, and beachy massage settings, and corporate parties and events where several Soothe therapists come in and give massages to the whole group.
There are plenty of things that make Soothe a winner, including the fact that you can pick the gender of your therapist, or if you liked your last therapist, ask if she or he is available. You’re not expected to tip; the price includes the gratuity and taxes. You can order it in advance and preschedule or order any time of day and get someone there in 60 minutes.
And for LGBT travelers, there are really added perks you might otherwise not consider. Safety. The company is insured, all their therapists are certified, and they’ve never had a safety complaint (again, not to point fingers but people booking massages via Craigslist have had many of those). As a woman in a strange city in a strange hotel, it adds the safety of being able to book a massage at the end of day after a exhausting conference and not have to worry that the person showing up at the door is either a rapist, sex worker, or just a crappy massage therapist (the latter two, I admit, aren’t about safety, just let downs nonetheless).
Many of my gay male friends love Soothe too because but they actually do want a real massage not a hookup or sexual service, which too many massage ads aimed at gay men actually offer. It’s affordable, too (in a city like LA, the costs are very reasonable especially for five-star service in your home) with prices fixed at $99 (for a 60 minute massage), $139 (90 minute), and $169 (120 minute); that’s per person, regardless of the type of massage. In LA and likely in other cities, you can order a massage while commuting and have the therapist at your home waiting for you when you arrive.
But when it comes back down to it though, an app is only a tool, even an affordable one. (After all, there are some chain salons that will give you a poor massage for around that same price.)
The bottom line is about the massage, and thanks to Sande, my massage therapist that day, I had one of the best massages I’ve ever had. I was worried if I picked Swedish or deep tissue, my massage would be too much of one or the other. Not true; she combined techniques and added other forms of bodywork (Trager Method, for one) that I hadn’t experienced before. And while she wouldn’t dish on her celebrity clients (I hear Soothe is popular with actors and musicians in LA as well), she was willing to talk as little or as much as I wanted, to explain what she was doing, or what I needed to do in the future to keep pain at the bay.
I felt great for days. And I then I logged on to Soothe again, this time from a whole different city.