So, this was probably the most insane spa I have ever been to. My girlfriend had been before to this one and to the Spa Castle in NYC, so I thought I was mildly prepared because she talks about it frequently. Nevertheless I was decidedly not.
We arrived when it was seriously freezing in Chicago, even though the temperature thing in the car said 26 degrees, I would argue that with wind chill it was like 15, I could also be exaggerating because I am used to NYC winters. Either way, I was excited to go inside and check it out, to warm up and to chill out, I had a particularly stressed out day and really need to unwind. Because this place is open 24 hours a day, we arrived in the late afternoon and planned to spend the evening there.
We arrived with our Groupons (we didn’t even have to print them out!), and were quickly handed these wrist keys with our identification number and a key to our shoe and clothing lockers. No forms to fill out, no information to give them, easy peasy.
We went into the locker room and at first you remove your shoes and put them in the appropriate locker just for your shoes then, you enter the locker room itself. Tons of employes, tons of naked women and children running around doing their thing.
I located my locker, and then realized I had no idea what to do, I know at some point you don a uniform to walk around the place, but what was our first order of business? I left it to a pro, my girlfriend to plan the evening. I was told to get naked.
I’m not that shy, but it was a very shocking thing to simply get naked and do what? Go where? But I complied, and first we went into the sauna, scrubbing, shower, hot tub area. First you have to shower its a rule. They provide shampoo and liquid soap, and for my sensitive skin, I had no reactions and it left my hair super soft (which then made me think I needed to switch my shampoo, but that’s another post). Then, you towel off with these mini towels (they don’t have large ones). We then went in to the sauna, but I lasted about a minute, it was super crowded, standing room only as all the seats were taken and this added to my small space anxiety coupled with my odd fear of saunas which stems from an episode of Baywatch where people were locked in a sauna, and David Hasselhoff had to save them. Anyway, it was fun, and I imagine that on a weekday when its emptier I would last longer and it would be more relaxing. We didn’t go into the pools because I forgot my thing that covers my insulin pump port and with the communal aspect I erred on the side of caution and didn’t go in. But they looked fun and very social- even though everyone was naked. They also have this cool area where you can scrub yourself down, have a friend scrub you down or pay someone to scrub you down- next time I will bring my insulin port cover and scrub away.
Then, when you leave the women’s only naked area (a.k.a locker room), there is a grand room, with these weird ornate pink chairs, and various caves where you just chill, take a nap etc. but no reading, phones, ipads, computers or drinks in the caves, but outside the caves they have wi-fi and lots of plugs to get your internet on. But before you leave the womens only locker room you have to put on clothing, but not yours- you are given a pink uniform. A regular T shirt and shorts, which remind me of my camp uniform from 1995. Even though these are the most unstylish things ever, things I would never wear even at home, you don’t feel ugly or strange because everyone, even the little kids are wearing them.
The caves in the main room, are like little odd igloos which are heated and have certain properties that allegedly heal various things and make you thinner. We went into one, the salt cave, but it was super packed so we left. We then went into the experiment room, which is a larger cave, a room really, thats super hot, and heals things too. This was my favorite, it was spacious, even though it was crowded and the floor was super hot and felt nice on my feet. Next we went the the meditation room, one part is co-ed with about fifty lazy boy chairs lined up with people napping, reading or doing whatever but for the most part napping. There is also a womens only meditation area, where there are about twenty lazy boys and reed mats on the floor to relax. This was my favorite place, it was really warm, about 80ish degrees so you didn’t really need a blanket. I slept like a baby and woke up super refreshed, but incredibly dehydrated. Water is really expensive there so I would seriously recommend bringing your own, about two liters should suffice, you get really dehydrated.
We eventually got hungry and went to the food area. They have lots of yummy things like rice cakes, ramen, beef noodles, bi bim bop and Diet Coke. Food is about $6.00- $12.00 and the servings are generous. The food was good, incredibly salty and the vibe was super happy and communal with lots of families and groups of friends.
After eating I napped some more in the womens only meditation area, while my girlfriend went in this weird chair that massaged you with water while you sat down in front of everybody in the main hall. She said the chair thing was strange and again my nap was amazing.
In the end, I emerged from the King Spa and Sauna, super refreshed, relaxed and rejuvenated. As an added bonus too, with all the communal nakedness, I felt really good about my body, not that I was comparing and that I was thinner than everybody, not even the slightest, just all that naked communal time in public made me feel really comfortable in my body, which I guess had the benefit of making me feel a lot better about it in general, which is nice you know after all of this holiday eating and impending hibernation that winter brings.