In this hectic world of ours, there are fewer enjoyable activities than soaking in a hot tub, relaxing in a sauna, or just simply unplugging from the outside world for a couple hours. And while the world today may be more stressful than it used to be, soaking and sweating is not a modern invention. Indeed, from Greek and Roman baths to Turkish hammams to Korean jjimjilbangs, saunas and bathhouses have existed in various forms around the world for thousands of years.
Every year, more and more of these soaking sanctuaries are opening up in the U.S. Visitors can enjoy dry saunas, steam rooms, warm and cool plunge pools, and more—all with the purpose of relaxing your body and mind.
Here are seven of the coolest and more luxurious bathhouses in the U.S.
Photo credit: @raquelvenanciomarins / Instagram
San Francisco’s Onsen is inspired by Japanese sento—public bath houses which have been around for hundreds of years. Onsen has a 104-degree communal tub, redwood sauna, steam room, custom overhead cold plunge, and western style showers.
Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, along with Wednesday and Thursday evenings, are coed—so bathing suits are required. However, on Wednesday afternoon the space is open to men only, while women get the space on Thursday afternoons; this means guests can enjoy the baths au natural—an experience we highly recommend!
In addition to its baths and saunas, Onsen has a tea house which serves sake on tap and various healthy small bites. They also offer massage, cupping, and reflexology treatments.
2. Aire Ancient Baths
Photo credit: Aire Ancient Baths / Instagram
Located in a restored factory from 1902 and illuminated by candles, Aire Ancient Baths Chicago oozes industrial elegance (if that’s a thing?). They offer a variety of thermal baths at different temperatures (hot, cold, warm, and ice), a steam room, salt water bath, massages, and a variety of packages if you’re looking to really indulge.
Aire also has locations in New York, Barcelona, Sevilla, and several other cities in Spain, and they’re opening spas in Paris and London in 2018.
Brooklyn, New York
Photo credit: cityWell / Instagram
This “boutique bathhouse,” located in Brooklyn, is inspired by its ancient predecessors in Rome, Greece, and Turkey. cityWell offers both indoor and outdoor facilities which include a soaking tub, cedar sauna, steam room, hot stone massage, customized aromatherapy, and several other types of treatments. Note that all hydrotherapy sessions at cityWell need to be booked online ahead of time.
4. Wi Spa
Photo credit: Wi Spa / Instagram
LA’s Wi Spa is a Korean-style bath house, with separate bathing facilities for men and women and a coed jjimjilbang, with specialty saunas, restaurant, and sleeping areas (all experienced in your super sexy uniform of a loose t-shirt and shorts). The gender-segregated bath areas have a variety of pools at different temperatures and saunas—oh, and no clothing is allowed!
Be sure to get a body scrub, one of the most memorable parts of a Korean spa experience. We mean it. Do it.
Wi Spa is open 24 hours.
5. Premier 57
Midtown, New York City
Photo credit: Premier 57 Spa / Instagram
Taking up three floors of the Galleria Building on 57th St is Premier 57, a luxurious playland of plunge pools, saunas, private spas, cooling chambers, and delicious food and drinks. For a very reasonable price, you get access to a day of bath and sauna hopping (other amenities such as food, alcohol, and private treatments are not included in the set price). They even have an indoor hydrotherapy pool with a swim-up bar—therapeutic, indeed!
Note that clothes are required everywhere except their men’s and women’s bathing areas, where you can partake in Korean body scrubs.
And, starting May 1st, their rooftop pool will be open until 9:50pm.
6. Asha Urban Baths
Photo credit: Asha Urban Baths / Instagram
Asha Urban Baths is Sacramento’s first and only “old-world style wellness bathhouse,” providing a space for healing and rejuvenation. They offer warm and cool plunge pools, a sauna, and a lounge. Guests can also indulge in a massage, yoga session, or spend a whole day relaxing with a personal day of retreat package.
7. Sōku Soakhouse & Spa
Opening in winter 2018 or early 2019, Sōku Soakhouse & Spa is inspired by Japanese and European hot springs. There will be indoor and outdoor areas, hot and cold pools, Turkish hammams, Finnish sauna, and Russian banya. For those seeking more privacy, they will have private soaking rooms with wooden tubs, steam/dry saunas and showers that open to Japanese gardens. There will also be an open-air pool, a juice bar, and a café.