Start the New Year at the Korean Spa - Relax, Get Cleaned, and yes, EAT!

by Sun

My favorite way to relax these days is going to a Korean spa. You can relax, get cleaned, and eat. All in one place! It is very refreshing and enjoyable eating at the Korean spa after getting yourself all cleaned and relaxed.

I have to warn you that this review is not focused on food and might be the the longest in our Savorychicks history to date, but I get so excited when I talk about Korean spas that I just have to share my experience with our Savorychicks' readers. Be open minded because it will be a total cultural experience.

There's is only one other Korean spa in the Chicago area on Montrose Ave. called "Paradise Sauna" and it is a very old and gloomy place. So I was exhilarated to learn that "King Spa" finally opened it's doors in Niles, Illinois, which is about 25 minutes from Downtown Chicago. After waiting for this place to open for over a year, I was super excited to check it out.

I went with a friend of mine who has never been to a Korean spa before but was excited to share the Korean spa experience with me.

Everything was good except one thing. The place is decorated horrendously BAD!!! I was expecting and hoping the place would be very modern and well designed since it's brand new. Sorry to say that it was not. Everything was new, but it was in very poor taste in my view. I realize that this is all subjective, but I'm in the design business and I just react violently to what I perceive as bad design. It might be just fine for others, and you will be the judge, but you can still achieve your goals of having a Korean spa experience If you can look beyond this and just focus on getting cleaned and relaxed.

After going to several Korean spas in Los Angeles, where the atmosphere is more modern and appropriate for 2010, I was a little shocked that the owner of King Spa hadn't done any competitive market research, (at least, as it appeared to me) especially in LA, where Korean spa culture is so popular.

In reality King Spa has no competition here since it is the only one in Chicago, aside from "Paradise Sauna". Because of this, I'll continue to go there until a better one comes along, but it's just a shame that more attention was not paid to the visual experience since it is so critical on effecting on how we feel, especially at a place that purely exists to help you relax.

When you first arrive, there is no clear instructions on what to do or where to go, so if you don't speak Korean, it can get quite confusing.

I've put together a list of suggestions/steps below minimize the confusion and maximize the positive Korean spa experience. Once you try it, you will get the general idea. (btw, King Spa does not accept reservations for scrubbing).

1. Pay $20 at the door and receive a Key with a number on it.

2. Take off your shoes when you see the "Shoe off " sign after entering the hallway and put the shoes in the shoe cabinet with your number on it.

3. When you enter the main locker area, tell one of the staff members that you want to make an appointment for the "scrubbing", which I highly recommend (for me, this is the main reason I go to Korean spa). Schedule your "scrubbing" for about one hour away, so you can have some time in the hot/cold treatment rooms prior to your session.

The Korean way of scrubbing is an ultimate exfoliation. Once you try this, you would not want any other exfoliation done at other regular spas.

The scrubbing is $60, or $90 with massage. The $60 should be sufficient because you get a little bit of massage at the end anyway and it includes a tip which is great. King spa is the only one I know that has a tip included policy.

4. Get undressed and put ALL your clothes in the locker. Yes, you are going to be butt naked. NAKED! Don't be shy. Nobody cares how you look.

5. Take a shower in the bathing room. When you come out to the locker room, dry yourself off and put on the pink shirts and shorts. A set might be handed to you by an attendant but otherwise, they are available in the locker room.

6. Go to the common area (men/women) where they have all the hot/cold rooms and a restaurant. There are a total of 8 treatment rooms.

There is a Salt room, an Ice Room, a Fire Sudatorium/Sweating Bath (you need to cover yourself with a thick blanket which is provided before entering this room), an Ocher room, an Bul Ga Ma, etc.... My favorite is the Bul Ga Ma. You can lay down and relax on the hot floor where the temperature is just right. For me, 15 minutes is just right and I come out completely refreshed. If you want to test your limits, you can always try the Fire Sudatorium or Ice room.

7. Return to the locker room 15 minutes before your scrubbing time. Put away your Pink outfit and go to the bathing room, take another shower before you sit in the hot tub. Whenever you return to the bathing room from the outside rooms, you are required to take shower. They have 3 different temperatures for hot tubs as well as cold tubs. You. need to get soaked at least 15 minutes in the hot tub in order for your skin to be ready to get scrubbed. I usually stay in the tub for 7-10 minutes and sit in the hot sauna for about 5-7 minutes.

8. When your appointment time is near, your scrubbing lady will come and call your number.

9. You just lay down and relax on the table and let her do the work. To start off, you will be drenched by a bucket of water on you, so don't be alarmed. This will happen on occasion as she works on you and scrub every inch of your body. You will soon start to see all the dead/dirty skin falling off your body. You will feel like you have never cleaned yourself before.

10. Sometimes the scrubbing ladies tend to massage a little too hard for my liking, but don't hesitate to tell her to be gentle if necessary. If you want to say that in Korean, just say "Ah Paa Yo" or "Sal Sal Ha Se Yo". They will probably laugh at your Korean, but will definitely get the message.

11. After the scrubbing, you will be soaped and cleaned. When she is done, dry yourself off, get dressed, leave your stuff in the locker room and go to the restaurant in the big room and enjoy the many of the Korean dishes they offer.

Here are some of the Korean Spas in LA you should check them out:

Crystal Spa (boutique size compared to other ones in LA which I like), Natura Spa, Wi Spa, Grand Spa, Olympic Spa. Try to avoid busy time. Go during the weekdays or early in the morning during the weekend.

From our partner: LO+JUNE

From our partner: LO+JUNE
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