It seemed like a good idea at the time. It always does. You book a massage. To reboot you. Mend you. Relax you (hold onto the dream). Yes, you’re busy but it’s only an hour for goodness sake. Cut to massage day and ‘Christ what were you thinking how can you possibly get everything done and get across town, were you literally INSANE booking this thing?’ *cancels massage* Again.
But what if the massage came to you? Picture it. You get home weary. A bit broken. You kick off your shoes and whoosh, a fairy godmother appears in the shape of a cool, calm and collected massage therapist. They spend an hour unknotting, realigning, soothing. When it’s over, they pack up and leave, leaving you to drift about in a pleasant fug or better still, crawl into bed.
These heavenly souls are out there and because you’ll want to be ultra-confident about who you’re letting into your home we’ve put together this list of tried and tested, vouched for, massage pros. Their prices are so varied, depending on everything from the treatments you go for to how far they need to travel so work it out with them directly. But know thyself… and call them.
1. SOOTHICITY (KENT)
Pain management and promoting wellness are Fazlin’s big thing. Sure, she isn’t the one to call when you’ve slipped a disc and are crawling around the kitchen floor in pain, but when you’re up and running again she’s good at keeping you on the right track. “I work on how pain relates to the body,” she says. “I help calm your body, calm the nervous system.” How? She has a wide range of disciplines including Swedish massage, aromatherapy and shiatsu up her sleeve. Since learning her craft in South Africa she’s been training non-stop, always picking up new techniques. She also works with a charity that helps people with cancers and other serious illnesses. One Midult we know won’t go near a massage table as scar tissue from a mastectomy is too sensitive – Fazlin specialises in working with scar tissue. She sticks to areas in Kent around Folkestone, Dover, Deal and so on. Oh and she only takes bookings online (you give all your contact details which helps guard against any suspicious types). A healing experience.
2. RACHEL GOODE BEAUTY (LONDON)
If you like them tough then Rachel’s your gal, says one Midult. Don’t be fooled by her sweet exterior, she is a brutalist and will bring your knots into submission. Rachel agrees. “I’m not the stroke relaxing type. I’m known for being strong and when I’m working on you I’m definitely trying to achieve something rather than stroking you for an hour.” It is effective stuff. She’s done a lot of Swedish massage, pregnancy, sports, deep tissue, though not so much of the soothing aromatherapy stuff. She’s been doing this for 13 years and has always had a natural flair and feel for the body. The home visits work for Rachel not only because she’s just had a baby but also because she finds her clients prefer the homeliness around them, having their own sheets, towels, a particular pillow. “They confide in me a lot, it’s quite a personal thing,” she says. “But it definitely helps me understand what the underlying problems are.” She’ll go to central, north and west London. Even better, says un-knotted Midult, “She is one of the nicest, funniest women I know, you will look forward to her visits not just because of the massages.” A toughie, true but a tonic too.
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3. JULIE MOBILE MASSAGE THERAPY (CARDIFF)
“One of my clients slips into her PJs as soon as the massage is over, flops onto the sofa and tells me to let myself out. She doesn’t want to break the moment,” says Julie. You can see why. This lady is a pro. She’s been doing it for 16 years and her deep tissue massage in particular is a thing of dreams. She’s good at the more functional stuff, treating specific issues like a problematic shoulder and so on, but also does lots of regular maintenance to ease general tightness and tension. Others see her purely for a relaxation massage. But once they’ve found her, people stick with her. In fact if you were to call Julie today, you might have to wait a while to be let onto her books. But it’s worth hanging on in there because once you’re in, you’re sorted. She’s worked in spas, on cruise ships and is pretty adaptable which is lucky, as some people’s home set-up makes for a challenging massage. Like the time she arrived to find the only place to put up her massage table was a narrow hallway while she did the massage jammed into the bathroom door. That one was borderline, she admits. She covers the whole Cardiff area. Oh, and we hear she does a great pregnancy massage too.
4. LIV INGE (WEST LONDON)
Just talking to Olivia makes you feel happy. She’s calm, warm, upbeat and her skin glows with good health. As a model in her past life she’d always have a massage or acupuncture after long-haul flights to right herself so she was no stranger to this stuff. When she hung up her catwalking shoes, she threw herself into acupuncture and massage therapy training and found she was a natural. She’s drawn to the Chinese way of looking at the body holistically, mind, body and spirit. “What massage is brilliant for is reducing the inflammation so it works well for people who are into sports,” she says. But don’t worry, she adds comfortingly, my massages aren’t rigorous sports massages. She doesn’t put loads of pressure. “I’d rather people left feeling good, rather than feeling like they’ve been beaten up. And the mood-enhancing hormones like endorphins and serotonin are only released with a relaxing massage. It’s good to have things ironed out.” She sees a range of people, from stressed out corporate types to anxious teenagers and her reviews are extraordinary, just one thankful patient after another. She’s busy in two clinics, one in Brackenbury Clinic, the other in Mayfair but does home visits in the evenings.
5. DAVINA SHERWOOD (SOUTH LONDON)
“I can’t FIX you,” Davina often tells clients. “This isn’t a one-fix wonder. I can temporarily make you feel better but usually, something has to change.” Straight-talking, honest and driven pretty much sums up Davina. She’s good on the long-term thinking side of things and will dig deep to find out more about your lifestyle and what you can change in your routine that will make you feel better. Healthier. “I’m quite honest with my clients as some people expect recovery to be instant.” Though not all are there to be fixed, some come with longstanding back issues they’re trying to keep on top of, others just want a relaxing massage. Even though Davina does acupuncture and massage therapy, her secret weapon is that she’s first and foremost a physio so she really understands what going on with your body. Home visits help her to help you. “If I can see your workspace or your living space it helps me to understand more about you,” she says. We panic a bit when she says she might give us exercises to do in between sessions but she assures us she gets that we’ve literally no time and she’s realistic about that.
6. CLAIRE MASSER (DORSET)
You’d never guess that calm, soothing masseuse Claire used to be a police officer. She left the police when the stress started to get on top of her and it was a chance remark from a friend about how good she was at massage, that got her into this. “I thought I’d give it a go,” she says. To be honest, this lady will give anything a go. After training as a massage therapist she saw there was no website specifically for mobile massage therapists. So she started one: www.inyourhomemassage.co.uk. Recently her web designers let her down so she’s taught herself to build a whole new website herself from scratch. Talking of scratch, she’s particularly good with backs. Her treatments are holistic, covering sports injury, deep tissue, Indian head, reflexology and relaxation. She also does medicinal acupuncture. Claire rocks up with an electric blanket and a fleece blanket in case your place is chilly and she’s the epitome of calm in the face of noisy kids, yapping dogs, she’s even had a cat jump onto the massage table. She’s based in Christchurch and generally only does about a 15-mile radius from there – though she’ll do the odd pamper party and massages for holiday-makers nearby.
7. BLOW (LONDON, BIRMINGHAM, MANCHESTER)
Country Midult looks back on her brush with Blow with misty-eyed nostalgia. Those were the days and she mourns them while standing mud-encrusted and windswept on some far-flung moor. Set up by former magazine editor Fiona McIntosh and entrepreneur Dharmash Mistry, Blow is not only uber slick, it is the UBER of the beauty world. You get the app, order your massage (though they do way more than just massage) and they’ll send someone to your home from 7am to late, 7 days a week. These guys are rigorously vetted, most have over 10 years’ experience, and incredibly only 4% of applicants make it through the recruitment process. So we feel safe with them. When it comes to massage you can choose between deep massage, Swedish, aromatherapy, reflexology, lymphatic drainage and pregnancy. It’s the best of both worlds this one, as you know you’re going to get a good ‘un but it has all the ease of dialling a Deliveroo. And if there’s a therapist you prefer to have again you can opt to make a booking with them. Genius.
8. ANTHONY CASSERLY (BIRMINGHAM)
An Irish dance whizz since he was four, Anthony spent years competing and that led to his career in massage therapy. “I saw all these dancers injuring themselves and nobody was able to help them, so I decided I wanted to learn how,” he says. He got himself trained up and these days his focus is on getting people back to good health. He does backs, sports injuries, deep tissue and sports massage. He’s very good on assessment, diagnosis and rehabilitation. “I’m all about getting people moving. If it hurts, the last thing you should do is keep still and protect it,” he says. He loves being a mobile therapist as he gets itchy feet (blame the dancing shoes) and hates being in one place. It’s also useful seeing how his clients live, how they work and what their background is which he can more than if he was seeing you in a clinic. He’ll trek as far as Stafford and Leamington Spa, and takes in the whole of Birmingham. I love what I do, he says. It makes me feel I’m helping people. As a man doing this job people can be more suspicious which is why he works largely through word of mouth. It helps build trust, he says. Anthony is easy going, cheerful and very straightforward, what more can we say.
9. GREEN’S HOLISTIC THERAPIES (EDINBURGH)
It started as a bit of a joke. As head of wigs and wardrobes in the theatre, Kirsten was always seen as the carer of the crew. “I’d give people neck rubs and they’d say, ‘Ooh, you’re good at this, you should be a massage therapist’,” she says. “I was in London doing the Railway Children in the West End and started a massage course on Mondays.” She loved it and was getting sick of the travelling so she moved back to Edinburgh and started out on her own. The mobile bit was unintentional, basically she had nowhere to practise. Since then she’s packed in training course upon training course (she’s a self-confessed therapy geek) with a repertoire that includes Swedish, hot stone, aromatherapy and pregnancy massages plus kinetic chain relief (in her words an MOT of the whole body), fascial release, reiki, connective tissue release, sound therapy, candling and more. “I’m about to start a hypnotherapy course as so often I feel I could help people with their problems that way,” she says. She prefers to check you out then suggest what treatment’s right, rather than have you pick a therapy you like the sound of. She’ll explain what she’s doing throughout the massage, “so people don’t just think I’m beating them up.” Unless you just want silence. She works through word of mouth and is pretty full with her clinics – that may mean fewer home visits but it’s worth putting in a call to her in your hour of need.
10. VINERY ROAD STUDIOS (CAMBRIDGE)
Things are a bit different at this marvellous clinic. Don’t be surprised if you call up to book and Rowan, who set the place up, does a bit of quick-fire triage on you. She’s a qualified physio (she even lectures on it) and her aim is to give you the therapist who specialises in what you’ve got, rather than just chucking anyone at you because they’re available. This place started out as a physio clinic but once they were ‘fixed’, they found clients wanted regular body maintenance to keep them well. They do excellent remedial massage. “It is relaxing but it’s not a beauty rubdown,” Rowan says. “My team don’t go in for the whole whale music and candles sort of thing, it’s a much more physical treatment. We’ll discuss what clinical issues you have and assess where the pain is – it’s quite a collaborative approach rather than just getting some massage on autopilot.” People tend to stay on their books as long-term clients – especially as if you fall off their books it’s hard to get back in there. We’ve heard particularly good things about Yulia Popova (no pun intended) who is schooled in the Jing school of training (won’t go into it here but impressive), but it’s such a good place we’d be happy with anyone here.
11. RUTH CLARKE (WEST LONDON)
A paramedic in her past life, in 2007 Ruth was in poor health and waiting to have a hip replaced. As a last ditch attempt she tried alternative therapies and as a result, she says, she no longer needed the op. “It made me passionate about the need to take care of yourself,” she says. So much so, she trained as a massage therapist and set up on her own. She focuses mostly on women and mothers who are juggling hectic lifestyles. “I encourage mums to take time out for themselves. I want to help them be happier. That’s why it’s so convenient that I come into their homes,” she says. Much of her technique focuses on mindset. “As well as dealing with aches and pains, I encourage my clients to take time out on a regular basis, I want them to relax and unwind.” Appointments with her are 90 minutes, “as this allows me to connect with the whole body.” She has, she says, qualifications coming out of her ears, Swedish massage, acupressure, Indian head, reiki… but she doesn’t pigeon hole herself; she likes to be bespoke according to what each client needs. “I want it to be a truly healing experience.” If you’re a regular client she’ll WhatsApp you to remind you of things you’ve talked about, whether it’s drinking more water or moving around at the laptop. She covers mostly west London though she’s up for travelling further and has been doing a bit of work in Surrey.
12. CHARLOTTE WEST HOLISTIC MASSAGE (BRISTOL)
A true find. Charlotte is as far from the start-at-head-steadily-work-down-to-toes as it gets. “I practise holistic massage in consultation with you, whether you have an injury or are after relaxation,” she says. “My massages are designed to be relaxing and therapeutic but if you want we can use a specific type of massage.” She trained in physiology, anatomy and holistic massage at the London School of Massage 10 years ago, has worked in retreats in south America and Portugal and now does this part-time. She also has yoga training, which comes in handy. Her hours are fairly flexible which is good news if you’re after a last minute massage as it’s easier to get an appointment with her than at your average spa. If you don’t want a home massage you can book to go to her place, where she has a treatment room set up. She’ll go all over Bristol and as far as Bath (though there’s a surcharge for that). A truly lovely soul whose very presence will smooth out your wrinkles, soothe your worries and energise you too.
13. JOANNA EDWARDS (NORTH LONDON)
Jo is so calm that even when a dog jumped onto the massage table in one client’s house, she hardly flinched. “The owner is so attached to her dogs she wouldn’t dream of not having them in the room. I ended up giving them a little massage too!” she says. Which seems apt seeing as Jo was a veterinary nurse before turning to massage. She gave that up because it wasn’t fulfilling and retrained as a physio. She ended up working in a palliative care team who sent her to learn massage therapy so she could use it on patients. And bingo. “I found what I love doing,” she says. It’s not just that she likes being her own boss, Joanna firmly believes in being massaged in your own home. Her physio background is perfect if you have an injury as she understands the muscular skeletal side. “Even if you say you just want a relaxing massage, I’ll find out what you do, whether it’s sitting at a laptop or marathon training and I’ll work on those areas that need it.” So different to many spas, she points out, where the therapists are often made to stick to a set massage routine at all costs, regardless of what’s going on with the client’s body. She’ll travel up to Watford, down to Camden and pretty much anywhere that’s within an hour of Mill Hill. You’ll feel as if you’ve had a complete reboot.
14. URBAN (LONDON, BIRMINGHAM, MANCHESTER)
Our Urban-loving Midult orders herself the odd sneaky massage on her work-from-home days. Get kids to school, fire up the laptop, oops there’s the door bell and the next 60 minutes is a blissful blur. The great thing about Urban, she reckons, is that you don’t need to commit to a person: they can rock up, massage you and go, without the feeling that they’ll be checking up on how you’ve been looking after yourself since last time (Not. At All.) She wants no chat just silence. The therapists are all well picked and vetted and you can see their ratings, Uber style, on their profile. The massage menu has more options than a wine list, including the Urban (de-stressing and relaxing), energising, Thai, Anti-Cellulite, Lymphatic drainage and so on. They’ve always been on time, always professional and there’s never been anything ‘weird’ says our Midult. Their efficiency is a godsend as she’s never fessed up to work colleagues or partner to having these secret little treats and she’d like to keep it that way.
15. SYLWIA HOLISTIC MASSAGE THERAPIST (SURREY)
She’s the kind of person you find yourself opening up to even though you’ve only just met. Warm, sincere and wise beyond her years, Sylwia specialises in sports massage and does a mean Swedish massage too. People mostly see her for sprains, strains and backache but we’d trust her with most things. If she thinks you’re better off seeing a chiropractor or an osteo, she’ll tell you straight. Otherwise she’s collaborative and will start each session asking how you are, where the niggles lie and what you want worked on. “But if you just want a relaxing massage, that’s fine too,” she says. Way back when she had an introductory day to see if massage training was for her, the tutors were struck by her healing hands. She’s based in Morden but will travel pretty far, not into the centre of town but as far as Epsom, Weybridge and Kingswood. Her manner is so easy, so girl-next-door we’d welcome her into our home with open arms. She only takes bookings over the phone. “It’s safer that way,” she says. “For you and for me.” She’s fairly swift to pick up on the weird callers, because there are a few. “After a while you hear their voice and you just know,” she says.
BY ALEXANDRA BORTHWICK