The best way I discovered last year to spend $30.

I love massages. When I was a student, I’d go to massage schools for the great deals they offer but only as a rare treat. When I got a real job I began sampling Seattle’s spas in earnest.

I eventually settled on Gene Juarez as my favorite place to go for a massage. It’s expensive and corporate, but I consistently had the best experience there. All of the massage therapists I’ve seen there have been great, but beyond that, I think they do the best job of creating a consistent and relaxing overall spa experience. The spa area is always warm and quiet, and I love that they give you a foot soak before the massage. I used to really appreciate this because I would often realize I had really dirty feet in the middle of a massage and feel bad. Problem solved! (My feet are much cleaner these days. I don’t know if it is the result of maturity or that five years in Seattle has drastically cut down on the flip-flop habit I cultivated while living in Austin.)

Gene Juarez also usually has last-minute openings, which is great for me because I hate to commit to a schedule. And, many of their massage treatments include the use of their fabulous steam showers, which is the best way I’ve discovered to  adjust back to the world after a really relaxing massage.

But about a year ago I discovered Chinese foot massage, and I may be done with expensive spa massages.

I tried Beijing Herbal Foot Massage in Kirkland first, at the recommendation of a friend with reliable taste. Not many things get me in my car, much less driving all the way to the Eastside, but the prospect of an hourlong $30 massage worked. I even went back once before I discovered that Two Smiling Feet had opened in Fremont.

Two Smiling Feet has the same deal: $30 for an hour. It’s open late and I’ve never yet had to wait when walking in. I’ve been three or four times and every time has been pretty blissful.

At both places, you sit in a reclining lounge chair during your massage, remaining fully clothed. All of the patrons are in the same room. It’s not just a foot massage, though that is the focus. They start with your head and arms, move on to your feet, and finish with a back massage.

Thank goodness Two Smiling Feet is still a drive away, or I might not be able to keep myself from going once a week. I just learned there is a similar place in the International District called Imperial Foot Massage (or maybe now Sunset Foot Spa?). It’s got lots of good reviews on Yelp, and it is dangerously close to my neighborhood. I’m definitely going to check it out soon.

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