It's very easy to miss Body Co., which is marked only by an unimpressive sandwich-board sign outside an equally unimpressive office-building door on Connecticut Avenue, just south of Dupont Circle. I walked right by it -- and I had an appointment there.
I'd discovered Body Co. on Yelp while looking for discount massages. I'm very snobby about my massage environments, and I feel that bodywork is most satisfying when it is 90 minutes long.
This unfortunate, because I am not rich. I very much enjoy places such as bluemercury ($145 for a 90-minute massage), Elizabeth Arden Red Door ($170 for a mere 80 minutes in Chevy Chase), and Bliss ($210 for 105 minutes at the W Hotel location downtown) -- but that's only when I decide to be greedy and ask for a birthday or Christmas gift certificate to one of these places. Otherwise, they're out of reach for me.
Body Co., on the other hand, had a $95 special offer for first-timers on its Yelp page -- check this page before you book, because they usually have some good deals on there.
I was nervous about booking a massage at an unknown place, sight unseen, and was not reassured by the run-down office building location. But! Once you get inside, Body Co. is nice and neat. It has a basic waiting room with leather chairs and a water cooler. The rooms themselves are clean, well ventilated, dimly lit, and quiet except for the cheesy, pan-flute-type music I've come to expect and tolerate from most massage places. (I'd rather hear that than awkward silence or sounds from outside the room, which I've experienced even at high-end places.)
My therapist, Cynthia, was attentive and great. She took in that I just wanted a basic Swedish massage for relaxation, nothing fancy, and delivered with divine strokes.
I was sold on Body Co. and decided to take advantage of their package of six 90-minute massages for $572 (not including tip), or $95.30 per massage. That, my friends, is a bargain.
My subsequent experiences at Body Co. were problematic, to say the least. Cynthia (O, Cynthia, why?) disappeared from their roster, so I spun the roulette wheel of therapists and tried again. Anxious to book a massage one evening, I departed from my norm of picking a female therapist and went with Julio. No complaints here -- he's very professional, knows what he's doing, and delivered a nice Swedish massage. Still... I wasn't quite sold and wanted to see what else Body Co. had to offer. That's when things started to go awry.
I picked a female therapist who ... wait for it ... asked me in the middle of a very lame session, "Would you like me to massage your breasts?"
Now. I suppose this may have been a legitimate request and that there are people who are into this, but I've never had it asked of me before and never want to have it asked of me again. I was so distracted by the question -- Was this weird, or am I just prudish? Is it possible there are people who would take her up on this? Did this poor girl work in a different, er, type of massage parlor before this? -- that I couldn't relax for the rest of the massage.
As it turned out, I didn't have much time to recover. The therapist finished up and encouraged me to hang out on the table for awhile, which I thought was odd because it seemed like the time wasn't up. Sure enough, she'd shortchanged me by at least 20 minutes. I was already back in my clothes before she had come back to the room saying she'd made a mistake, and did I want the rest of my massage? I said no and proceeded to the front desk. The woman there was apologetic and said she'd only charge me for one hour. I left stressed.
Amazingly, it happened again -- not the inappropriate offer, but the shortchanging. The therapist left 15 minutes early, again encouraging me to stay and relax on the table, which made me think she was trying to dupe me. Again the desk staff apologized and only charged me the partial amount. Both times, the staff claimed that there was something wrong with the clock in the room. There was nothing wrong with the clock in the room. I told the manager that she had a staff issue she needed resolve, and she thanked me for the feedback.
I've been back twice since then, and only because I had the package to exhaust. Both massages have been good -- not great, but no big complaints. My boyfriend joined at one point and had a great deep-tissue massage.
So, the bottom line with Body Co. is that it offers tremendous value if (big if) you can find a therapist who's right for you.
Where do you go for affordable massage in D.C.?
1337 Connecticut Ave. NW, lower level
Massages from $45 for 30 mins.