I came across a woman talking about having a massage at a massage shop.

What do you call a venue where relaxation massages (as opposed to remedial massages) are done? Is there something better than "massage shop"?

  • 5
    This might be a regionalism, but when I llived in New York, "massage parlor" was a common euphemism for "house of prostitution". So if you wanted to say that a place really provided massages and not ... other sorts of services ... you had to say they provided "therapeutic massages". I don't recall hearing that outside New York, though.
    – Jay
    Commented Mar 11, 2013 at 15:02
  • @Jay that's the case in Australia as well.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Mar 11, 2013 at 21:54
  • @Jay "Parlor" is used in the UK too, but like your time in NYC, it is either archaic or carries similar connotations of being a "rub-and-tug shop".
    – StuperUser
    Commented May 22, 2019 at 13:15

2 Answers 2


"Spa" would be an acceptable term, although it doesn't necessarily refer specifically to massage. It can include massage, skin treatment, aromatherapy, etc. Though it isn't specifically limited to massage, "spa" does hold the idea of non-remedial activity.

As @J. R. graciously pointed out, "salon" would also be correct. It shares the same strengths and weaknesses. That is, it does not refer to massage specifically, but to non-remedial relaxation in general. (It also includes hairdressing, and thus is slightly broader than "spa".)

Note that "massage shop" or "massage parlor" are sometimes used as euphemisms for a brothel. If you use these terms, be sure that you give them proper context.

  • I think salon might work, too.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 11, 2013 at 14:42
  • @J.R. You're entirely correct. I knew I was missing something obvious. Commented Mar 11, 2013 at 16:05
  • Interesting - I thought "spa" meant "hot spring" or "hot tub", but I've heard "day spa" or "spa" being used this way. Also, while I knew about "massage parlor" being used for a certain kind of service (which I hoped to avoid mentioning!), I wasn't aware of "massage shop" having such a meaning!
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Mar 11, 2013 at 21:52
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    @JonathanGarber "spa" or "salon" wouldn't have the euphemistic interpretation, would it?
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 2:32
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    @AndrewGrimm: No. In general, native speakers would not automatically assume an "alternate" interpretation to either of these words. Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 20:21

When I go to get a massage, I say I am going to the massage therapist. While in most contexts that would refer to the individual practitioner (i.e. the specific person providing the massage), it can also refer to the practice in general, which in turn refers to the unit of business where one or more licensed therapists provide massage therapy.

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