I entered through a long, orange-tinted corridor with signs ordering me to remove my snow-caked Sorels and deposit them in the locker that corresponded with the number on my recently-issued plastic bracelet. In the women’s locker room I hesitated as all the experienced Korean-Spa patrons stripped down and vanished through a glass door before following suit. Beyond the glass doors there were showers, three central pools, a pool with a waterfall wall, and a sauna. After recovering from the initial shock of being in a room with more naked strangers (as well as people I know) than I’d ever seen at one time I came to the realization that the Korean Spa is possibly one of the best places to spend a day in Chicago.
After showering you move from pool to pool (warm, warmer, hot and icy) freely and relax in the sauna. You’re allowed to whisper quietly but noise is regulated. When you’re ready you shower again and dress in loose pink garments (men wear grey) before exiting the locker room into the unisex main hall. It’s as if you’ve just entered Disneyland. Chairs in the center of the room are surrounded by doors and domes. The first door I open is on the face of an igloo. It reads “Salt Room.”
Inside it is humid and smells faintly of the ocean. People lie on the floor like lizards in the sun–eyes closed, still. I stay inside for a solid 15 minutes.
Next I make my way over to the juice bar to buy a carrot juice, which is charged on my bracelet. I sip my carrot juice in the movie theater filled with the most comfortable recliners, and then test out the other rooms. Charcoal (a warm, dark room with red light), Amethyst (a room filled with crystals mounted to the walls), Orcher (a room with clay walls, cooler, dry air and very warm floors), Fire Sudatorium (a room with very thick air and temperatures up to 277 degrees fahrenheit standing and 193 degrees sitting), Ice (a cool, 40 degree rectangle with wood floors and ceilings) and Experimental (a larger room with a little of everything). There is also a gold Pyramid Room that you can lay inside on towels, because the floor is too hot without them.
Images via King Spa & Sauna
After I’ve been sufficiently heated and cooled myself several times, I make my way upstairs to the meditation room, where people sleep or read in recliners in a quiet, dimly lit space, totally at peace. And all the while snow is billowing outside, building up against the food-court windows. The perfect way to hide from the polar vortex that seems to have hit Chicago once again.