I Tried A Korean Spa, And This Is What Happened
It was about three months ago when I first went to a Korean spa. I had a brief separation from my spouse, and as a result, I was stressed, achy, and just needed some “me” time. Most of the time when I get stressed, I book a massage or drive down to a local Russian banya for a steam and swim.
This time around, I was in a new town and I wanted to try something new. I was also so tense that I legit pitied any Massage Envy staff person who tried to massage my back. It was just one of those weeks.
So, I took a look at a Korean bath house that was in the next town over from me: King Spa. The photos of the interior looked good. Like a Russian banya, it had multiple saunas as well as a bathing area. It also featured a massive menu of services. I headed over and went into what may have been one of the most striking spa experiences of my life.
How It Works
The system they use to keep your stuff safe is simple. Each visitor gets a wristband with a locker number. The wristband has a key on it that gives you access to your locker. In the bathing areas, you have another locker to hold your clothing.
The spa also has a restaurant as well as spa services you can order. When you order something up, they scan your wristband and you pay at the register once you leave. It streamlines things.
Admittedly, I already had a couple of preconceived notions about what a Korean bath house was like. I thought that you needed a bathing suit and that you’d be walking around in flip flops all day. Nudity just didn’t quite seem like something that would happen in large scales there—at least, not in an Americanized one, right?
I went inside, checked in, and was handed a set of spa clothes and towels. Then, I went into the locker room and noticed that almost all the women were stark naked, wrapping themselves up in towels. The ladies all quickly shoved their clothing into other lockers and filed into a bathing area. No bathing suits were anywhere to be seen.
I looked at my bathing suit, then with a sigh of resignation, put it in the locker. As a shy person around others, I gathered up all my strength and went into the women-only bathing area. I wasn’t really sure what to do.
As soon as I walked in, I quickly realized that being naked didn’t really matter. Everyone was just kind of chilling and doing their own thing, not really caring that they were naked. I wasn’t the type to openly gawk, so I just stared at the floor as I showered myself.
In the middle of the bathing area was a series of three jacuzzis—a yellow one, a green one, and a blue one. I dipped into one, only to realize the water was freezing cold. The next was a little more of a traditional jacuzzi, while the other was hot. I spent time dipping between all three, went into a cold waterfall pool nearby.
It was rad. I tried the wet sauna, which helped me unwind with a heavy dose of steam, then left the bathing area. From there, I put on my uniform and tried the unisex part of the spa.
It’s Really Gorgeous In Here
As soon as I stepped out into the gender-mixed area of the spa, I realized that there was a very different vibe in Korean spas than a typical bath house. This was the type of area where you could literally hop in a sauna, relax, and then come out for a game of Reversi or chill on a couch later.
The spa had plenty of little nooks and crannies where they set up beautiful scenery just to gaze into. I mean, take a look at this garden!
Dry Sauna Time
This spa was totally massive and had a ton of different dry saunas that both men and women could enter into. Each one had a different appearance and was equipped with different gems and herbs that are meant to help your body detox.
Dry saunas are definitely King Spa’s specialty, and rightfully so. They have a crazy number of them to try out! There were rooms that were filled with teas, some that were covered in amethysts, as well as a brick oven room that gets fired up three times a day.
My personal favorite was the golden pyramid sauna, which was literally covered in 24K gold. It was hot but not too hot, and there’s something absolutely awesome about being able to say you sat in a golden pyramid.
Each sauna was a dry heat sauna, which meant that sweating took a bit more time than it did in the wet sauna. That said, none of the saunas smelled sweaty. In most cases, there was a nice herbal aroma that lingered in the air. When you’d get out, the sweat that was pouring out of you almost immediately dried.
My favorite room in the spa was the “cold room,” which was kept at a brisk 30-ish degrees. It felt like walking into an ice rink, and was just slightly humid. Rather than make you sweat, this was more of a revitalizing rush. They also had cute tree stumps you could sit down on.
Aromatherapy and Restauranting
King Spa also came complete with a Korean restaurant inside of it, right next to an aromatherapy room. The aromatherapy room had a place to rest your feet under a warming red light...and I’ll be honest, I almost passed out here. The scent was just subtle enough to soothe but not overwhelm. It was just that good.
Afterwards, I hit up the restaurant for some strawberry juice. It was just like having a fresh smoothie on a warm day. Once that smoothie was finished, I ducked out of the spa, feeling refreshed as can be.
Would I Do It Again?
Absolutely—and I have! The last couple of times, I went with my husband. He’s not a typical “spa guy,” but he still enjoyed the rooms as much as I did. When we do go together, we often will split a meal between the two of us, too!
Cover image via NY Post