Day Spa – Korean Style

As a birthday gift, my niece, Zauditu invited me to a day at a spa. Now normally, if you say spa I start drooling, but she said Korean Spa and immediately I had a whole different response, because I had heard these spas are like bathhouses. And personally, I don’t go in for “public bathing”. I start having all kinds of ideas about how sanitary can it be? But I decided that since she was so excited about the idea, I would just say yes. Amazing things happen when you say, “yes” in life and I’m definitely up for what’s amazing.

The services offered at King Spa Sauna, are apparently a system of self-care that is traditionally Korean, because you will see generations of Korean women together. You’ll see a grandmother, with her daughter and her daughter’s daughter. Everyone walks around naked, except there are some ladies that are in black underwear. I finally realized they were the practitioners.

We walked into a very large wet room that was covered from floor to ceiling with marble and tile and water everywhere. This one room had a row of shower stalls, a pool of really hot water, a pool with lukewarm water, a pool with cold water, a steam room and rows of seating with shower-heads where you could sit and bathe, wash your hair, brush your teeth etc. You go from one pool to the other alternately relaxing and invigorating your system, depending on the temperature of the water. The herbal steam room was divine; the scent in there was euphoric. Then there were the massage tables where you received wet services such an exfoliation and wet massage.

The exfoliation was incredible. The practitioners wear these mittens that are like “brillo gloves” and they begin rubbing each and every part of your body systematically with these mittens. I was astounded at the amount of black, rolled dead skin that came off of my body. It was like yuk, puke. You want to believe that ugly, gross stuff is coming from somewhere else, somebody else, but no, it belonged to you. Afterwards, your body is as smooth a silk.

Having had a lot of massages over the years, it didn’t seem these were professional masseuses. You get the feeling, they haven’t really been to an accredited massage school, but it still, it feels good and relaxing. The downside of that is that they use baby oil, (definitely not the best). Next time I will bring my own oil.

All is said and done and now it’s time to leave and tip your practitioner. But there’s a “recommended” tip. But in this case “recommended” means a mandatory amount. The amount is $25.00, which is pricy considering that’s double an 18% tip. Oh well, it makes me wonder (like I do in nail salons) if the practitioners are on payroll or if tips are their only source of income???

All in all, I would definitely go again. It’s a very relaxing and wonderful way to bond with friends, family, or loved ones. Though I must warn you, that you’ll be wishing you had a personal driver to take you home, and you’ll want to head right home to take a nap. All that water submerging seems to bring your exhaustion to the surface. At least that’s how I felt. I was really out of it for the rest of the day. Maybe, next time, I’ll try it at night. There was a lot more to do that we didn’t get to (like the Amethyst room, mineral salt room, gold pyramid room) but check it out for yourself. BTW, we went to the one in Palisades Park. I’ve heard the one in Flushing Queens, Inspa World a.k.a. Spa Castle is far more fabulous. And if you’ve already been to one of these Korean spas, tell us your experience.

Thank you Z, for a tremendous experience and for spending time with your Auntie!


  1. masoesa May 12, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Ooh boy, you remind me of what I miss. I LOVE sauna’s and steam rooms, o and massages, o my. The best thing for me is to have them after a workout. Then yeah, you sleep like a baby. I am glad you had a wonderful time.

  2. Anonymous May 12, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Netret and I are scheduled next Monday for Spa Castle. A collegue went and was so blissed out that she was afraid to share her experience for fear that too many people be there when she went again. She described the size of it akin to a super Walmart. I am so looking forward to it.Arit

  3. drsylewis May 13, 2009 at 1:56 am

    Anu, I went to King Spa Sauna for the first time on Easter Sunday to celebrate a birthday. My friend Marlies (choreographer of the Broadway production of Rent) had raved about it. But like you I was skeptical, not into public bathing either. And yes, I am my mother’s child, always concerned about how sanitary the place is. But Marlies wanted me to join the “Auntie” crew and help with a rite of passage for her niece Zanetta’s 25 birthday. And yes, I’m all for rites of passage so I was in. It was a wonderful experience. I enjoyed the varied rooms and the wet room with the pools. I think the Amythest and Golden Pyramid were my favorite and the food was pretty good. Nice fresh fruit, smoothies. I too, would go again. They make it easy with their discount tickets.

  4. Anonymous May 13, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    I am happy that Zee treated you to a special spa day on mother’s day as you really do have many children. My last experience of the spa castle,in queens, I was sworn to secretcy because of wanting to keep the location exclusive. I think everyone needs a spa moment and it is the greatest gift you can give to yourself and someone close to you.Thank you for sharing the one in the Poconos. I do not think I can ever go to the one in queens again the experience lingers on its all in who you go with! Sherri

  5. Anonymous May 15, 2009 at 12:14 am

    I love the Korean Spa’s!! There’s one in Los Angeles, The Olympic Spa,that sistah’s have claimed as theirs. Although on my first visit I got the feeling that the old timers, or the local Korean women were not too happy to have us there. But, they got over it. We all now happily share the facility. In addition to the treatments that Anu described, this particular spa has a heated jade colored marble floor. You place a small quilt on the floor, a pillow and a light blanket to cover yourself after all of the water treatments and slip into the deepest and most relaxing sleep. It is heaven. Being there and knowing the water ritual that Jewish participate in it makes me wonder what water/bathing ritual is unique to African women. Shay

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