Like sock hops and soda fountains, house calls seem charmingly old-fashioned. Yet the rise of on-demand smartphone technology has brought the practice back in a big way. Now you can summon not only medical practitioners, but also an army of hair, makeup and wellness pros with just a few quick taps and swipes.
Apps that bring these services to users are perfect for guests at hotels that might not have such amenities, but they are also enticing to luxury hotel guests, too — many high-end properties are teaming up with these companies to enhance guests’ stays. So when you’re on the road, and popping into your usual nail spa or hair salon isn’t an option, consider transforming your short-term home into a full-on hotel-room haven.
1. The Ritualist
Few things in this world feel as flat-out indulgent as a facialist coming to you. (And if they’re coming to your suite at NoMo SoHo or luxury studio at Hotel Americano, hey, that’s even better.) This New York City-based beauty startup sends licensed aestheticians to your (hotel) door to perform half-hour or hourlong facials, microdermabrasion and glycolic peels.
Each technician is equipped with a portable (but shockingly comfy) facial bed, a magnifying spa lamp and a travel skin-care kit to end all travel skin-care kits — a vanity case is stocked with plant-based masks, serums, lotions and creams from the company’s own natural and nontoxic line, which it ddeveloped over the course of a year with the help of a New York-based chemist and herbalist. The most popular treatment? The Signature Facial with a foot massage and extractions (both add-ons).
Where: NYC and San Francisco
Even hotel rooms at non-luxury hotels can be inherently relaxing. They’re reliably cleaned every day and free of the low-level stressors scattered throughout one’s own home: electric bills, ever-amassing dirty dishes, heaps of clothes to be deposited at the dry cleaners some day in the unforeseeable future. This makes them excellent backdrops for massages, and there’s no need to navigate your way home from the spa in a blissed-out, post-massage state. This is where Soothe comes in.
The on-demand service offers massages — deep tissue, sports, prenatal, Swedish and couples — all at a fixed fee (no tip necessary). All you need to do is give at least an hour’s notice and someone from the network of 8,000 massage technicians will come to you with a mobile massage table. You don’t even have to worry about background music; the masseuse will stream spa music through his or her phone for the duration of your one-hour, 90-minute or two-hour massage.
Where: Since it launched in Los Angeles in 2014, Soothe has scaled to 51 cities throughout the United States — from the Hamptons to Honolulu, from Miami to Milwaukee, as well as London, and Toronto and Vancouver in Canada, with plans to soon expand to Melbourne, Australia.
There are plenty of travel destinations where a bag of ponytail-holders and a bottle of broad-spectrum sunscreen are all you need on the beauty front. (For me, personally, one of the greatest pleasures of traveling is paring down my hair and makeup routine to the absolute minimum.)
New York, Los Angeles and Miami, however, are rather high-maintenance markets that pull in millions visiting for big meetings, bachelorette parties, weddings or clubby night-on-the-towns (i.e., momentous occasions that call for looking one’s best). Enter: Glamsquad, which was at the forefront of the on-demand beauty scene. Glamsquad offers nail, makeup and hair services, like braids and updos. Ten blowout styles range from the Old Hollywood-inspired Starlet to the super sleek, pin-straight Editor.
Where: NYC, L.A. and Miami
What sets Vensette apart is its status as one of the first-ever beauty-on-demand resources (the app debuted in 2011) and its around-the-clock operation. The 24-hour service is such a major player in the on-demand space that concierges at many top hotels, like The Greenwich Hotel in NYC, will book Vensette for guests in need of in-room hair and makeup.
Where: NYC, Miami, L.A., San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Miami
When Zeel launched in 2012, it spearheaded the entire idea of on-demand, at-home massage therapy. Fast-forward five years, and the company has expanded to more than 50 American cities, where it offers deep-tissue massages (its most popular), as well as Swedish, sports, prenatal, couples and sleep massages. Appointments are available from early in the morning until late at night, and can be booked with as little as an hour’s notice.
Where: Nationwide, including Chicago, New Orleans, Phoenix and San Diego
Blowouts? Check. Makeup and massages? Yep. These services can be booked through Priv, an app that exceeds the scope of its competitors by offering haircuts, spray tans, and men’s haircuts and shaves. Even personal yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, and custom training sessions are on call. Priv’s service set is so comprehensive, it’s little wonder that New York Hilton Midtown — the largest hotel in New York City — has partnered with the app as a way to bring salon, spa and fitness services to guests staying in one of the hotel’s 1,980 rooms.
Where: NYC, the Hamptons, L.A., Orange County, Austin and London
Concierges at luxury hotels like The Peninsula in New York and Mandarin Oriental in Washington, D.C., regularly use Bella’s special concierge booking process to nail down hair and makeup appointments for their guests. Every one of the app’s 250 beauty technicians has at least five years’ experience, and all are obliged to carry a kit as high-end as the hotels they so often visit: Chanel, Laura Mercier and Oribe are a few of the prestige brands used for Bella’s hair and makeup services.
Bella also offers Keratin hair straightening, partial or full-head hair extensions, eyelash extensions and mani/pedis, and can take special requests.
The app launched in 2014, and its upgraded version will be available in late February.
Where: NYC, Miami, L.A., Las Vegas and Washington, D.C.