If you’re like most Americans, you’re more modest than people of many other cultures who are familiar with being naked in a spa setting.
But if you’re willing to leave your comfort zone for awhile you can get a true Korean-style spa experience in the U.S. And you don’t have to be naked, that is, unless you want to spend time in the hot and cold pools and steam room.
King Spa & Sauna in suburban Chicago is a great way to have a bit of an adventure and participate in healthful and relaxing activities. The setup is similar to European style spas that I have visited where it’s more about hot and cold water and relaxation than it is about spa treatments like massages or facials. My adult daughter had visited a spa in Korea during her teenage years and she proclaims King Spa in Niles to be authentic.
We stopped in for a visit recently and think the place is worth a day trip for anyone in the Chicago area. When we were there, it seemed as if about half of the spa-goers were of Korean origin. And there were only slightly more women than men.
For the uninitiated, this is more than just a spa. After paying the $30 admission fee at the front desk, you head to either the men’s or the women’s side. First stop is at the locker room entrance where you pick up a spa uniform of shorts and t-shirt and get a locker key on a wrist band that you also can use to pay for anything in the spa.
Attached to the locker area are the gender segregated wet rooms where everyone is naked. Men’s and women’s sides each have three progressively warmer hot pools ranging in temperature from 97 degrees to 103 degrees. There’s also a cold pool with water temps of 60-65 and a steam room with a temperature of about 115 degrees.
The day we visited there were woman and girls of all ages luxuriating in the warm pools, none of whom seemed the least bit interested in the variety of body shapes and ages testing the waters.
Finishing in the wet area, it’s time to leave the locker room and head into the main co-ed spa area. It’s a wide open space with restaurant on one end and movie theater filled with recliner chairs on the other. In the center are dozens of comfortable leather and wood carved chairs designed for resting.
Around the edges of this room are nine saunas, with varying temperatures and elements designed to heal what ails you. Among the saunas are the salt room, the charcoal room and the gold pyramid.
From this main area, too, is where you access the treatment rooms for add-on services like acupressure massage, reflexology or facial.
I had the one-hour acupressure massage, which definitely worked out the kinks but was a little more intense than I expected. My daughter had a facial. Both of us are more used to traditional salon-style treatments and these were not quite as relaxing. But we’re keen to try other options when we return. I’m guessing the foot massage would be a good bet for first-timers.
King Spa & Sauna in Niles, just north of Chicago, is highly recommended for a day-long getaway for girlfriends, mothers and daughters, couples or even an adventurous family on a cold winter’s day. Napping is encouraged in the quiet rooms. The food at the attached Korean restaurant is outstanding. Just show up and let your worries fade.