If I have to talk about Spa World, I have to talk about nudity. This is because nudity, while not the focus of the facility, is a crucial, unavoidable detail of the experience of Spa World.
Spa World is a Korean style bath house facility, and if you go, you will get naked.
And it is awesome.
I had a great time. I didn’t think I was going to have a great time, I had my own cultural conditioning, hangups and body issues to overcome. But it was the last chance to hang out with a friend who was leaving the country and I wasn’t going to miss out on seeing her before she left.
When I first got to Spa World, I wondered if we had come to the right place. It’s two mirrored doors in a strip mall with a garish “SPA WORLD” sign hung up on the front of the facility. Once I stepped inside, it was a different story altogether. It is fancy. No lie. I was greeted by a long hallway that led to rows of small wooden lockers. On the other side of a counter that had giant rocks in it, friendly hostesses greeted us in both English and Korean.
I looked outside at the black tarmac of the parking lot, and looked back in towards the dark wood and marble floors. I walked towards the counter, in towards the spa, and left an entire culture on the other side of the door.
Our hostess explained the rules and how the facility works. There’s an entry fee of $35. We were a large group, so for us, it was $25. Our hostess explained that the fee was for a 24 hour period, but we could not leave and come back. I thought that strange until later on in my visit. After I took care of the fee, my hostess sized me up and I received yellow loungewear (the ladies received orange loungewear) and a receipt with a number on it. The loungewear is comfy shorts and a loose shirt.
The number on the receipt will corresponded to a number on the small shoe lockers that I saw when I entered. I found my locker, took the key, and put my shoes away. There was a little bit of waiting as everyone found their lockers. Then we headed down the down the hall to the locker rooms, waved goodbye to the female members of our party as they went to their locker rooms.
Just a heads up, the locker rooms will have naked people in them.
This is okay, and perfectly normal, considering the context. Just so you know, if you decide to go to Spa World, you’ll be seeing them when you get to the locker rooms. This is where I found out that I was okay with nudity. That, and I had decided in the main hallway that it was going to be this exciting dynamic thing to write about.
It turns out that getting naked is not an exciting dynamic thing* to write about. You simply get naked along with everyone else. I don’t know how else to say it, but it’s not a big deal. It ends up being pretty boring to write about.
Yeah. It was a surprise to me, too.
Once inside the locker rooms I repeated the search for the locker with the same number and put my clothes and loungewear in. Once I was free of all of my clothing, I was directed by the attendant to the bade pool room, where the showers were. In retrospect, this is where I should have grabbed a towel.
This was also where I first saw the bade pool. To me, the bade pool looked like a pool with different sections. It is, in fact, a very comfortable temperature and it has different stations, each with different types of jets at different pressures and locations. My personal favorite was a very strong jet of water that was focused on the lower back. If you get to a station and nothing is happening, look for a silver pole with a white top on it and just press down on it and the jets will start back up. They may come from an unexpected direction, so be ready for anything.
The bade pool is surrounded by hot tubs at various temperatures. Helpfully, they have posted LED digital temperature displays above the hot tubs, so you literally know what you’re getting into. There’s also a cold pool, but I didn’t get into it. Also in the bade pool room there is a waterfall shower and both a dry heat sauna and a steam room.
I watched as friends entered the dry heat room at 184 degrees Fahrenheit only to immediately turn around and get out. I hit the steam sauna myself, but was only able to be in there for a short period of time before I got uncomfortable. The floor was just too hot.
After about an hour, we decided that maybe we should catch up with the rest of the party, and decided to leave the bade pool.
I got out of the pool, leaden and heavy with my sudden return to an environment where I wasn’t supported by my limited buoyancy. Then hit the showers again to get the water off. I toweled off, got back to my locker and changed into the loungewear. The bade pool is only the first part of Spa World. The second part are the poultice rooms and the large common area. The common area is a large room with a heated floor. Dominating the center of the room are floor mats where people just lie down and relax. At one end is the juice bar and cafeteria. You order whatever you want and just show your key.
This next part, the common area is great, because you can hang out with all of your friends both male and female, in a spa environment. Yes. Men and Ladies in the same room, at a spa. Scandalous, I know. Also, there are couches at one end and the cafeteria has tables for sit down eating.
Off of the common room are several different types of poultice rooms, each with a different temperature and environment. I walked into the Amethyst room first, which is a dry heat sauna at 174 degrees Fahrenheit. It was surprisingly comfortable. I found it soothing, like getting into a really warm bed. I know that some people are always cold. This is the room I recommend for you. You will love it. I have friends who are always cold. This room must have been like some sort of heaven where they’re not punished by air conditioning all the time.
There was also an ice room, which was a walk in fridge kept at 56 degrees. Alternating between the hot rooms and the ice room was a really relaxing experience. Full disclosure: Ice room was probably my favorite.
After a while, I got hungry and headed over to the cafeteria where I found the rest of the party and partook of cold noodles, kim chi, dumplings and finally a shaved ice with red beans. This is why the admission fee is good for 24 hours. There are nap rooms, a full service salon, massage rooms and free wi fi.
You can literally stay here for 24 hours and to be honest, one day, I’d like to see what that’s like.
Eventually we had to leave because we had dinner plans at a Korean BBQ.
I went back to the locker room and switched back into street clothes. I brought my key up to the counter and they looked up my account. They found I didn’t buy any food or services and they handed the key back to me and I went back to my original locker and took my shoes.
The circle was complete. I was well rested, well fed, and I felt like I had an entire weekend’s worth of activities in my four hours at Spa World.
So, basically. Spa World. If you’re going, let me know. Hell, if I’m going, I’ll let you know.
Basis for article: Got to Spa World. Got naked. Used the bade pool for an hour. Got to the common room, ate a small meal and lounged in comfy couches and recliners, alternating with poultice rooms for an additional three hours. Got dressed. Felt more relaxed than I have been for a long time .
* Well, maybe there was one weird and kind of uncomfortable moment that’s funny in retrospect. I’ll go into it another day.