I personally can’t think of a better way to spend a gloomy, rainy day than being in a 130-degree room sweating through your borrowed t-shirt. Unfortunately many others can’t either which is why Korean spas tend to be the most crowded on rainy days. I was told this by a woman I met in the 128-degree Salt Room. I find that lying next to a stranger on steaming hot pieces of salt, dripping in your sweat is the best way to break the ice.
She was 42 but looked a decade younger and was probably the best self-professed connoisseur of Korean spas in LA. While Wi Spa is the newest spa in k-town and therefore the largest with shiny facilities, she said Crystal Spa is a great option, too. Especially if what you’re searching for is peace, quiet and complete relaxation. She spent 10 hours at Crystal Spa the last time she was there. The reason why it’s so serene: No children allowed. On the other hand, the worst time to go to Wi Spa is on Friday nights when children come in for $5 a piece. Each spa has its own happy hour times and prices, so if you find yourself unemployed and languishing in your self-pitying hole of depression on an uneventful Tuesday then a half-off spa day might be in order. Not that I know anything about unemployment or depression …
Unaffected by either of those predicaments, this past Sunday, my bestie and I scheduled a much-needed girl time rendezvous at Wi Spa. We walked in at 2:30 p.m. and walked out at 7:30, feeling the happiest we have both felt in a long time. To best use your time at Wi Spa, you want to follow a certain order of events. If you’re new to Korean spas, I’m afraid there is something far worse than feeling lost and confused, and that’s feeling lost and confused, naked. But don’t fret, I’m here to break it down for you.
First, you’re going to be given a watch key that’s for your personal locker. Grab a spa t-shirt, shorts and a robe, then stop by the skin care store to pick up a face mask if you don’t have one already. Korean face masks are extremely convenient and varied. There are a hundred different types of face masks for different purposes. From collagen-stimulating to brightening, you’ll be able to find a mask that suits your skin’s particular needs. Then take all your items and new purchase to your locker where you’ll change into your spa shirt and shorts.
1. Sweat it out
Before you head on upstairs to the common co-ed floor, you want to remove all your makeup on your face so that you don’t clog up your pores when you’re sweating. Then grab a clean small towel. There are a variety of sauna rooms, all varying in temperature, from 128 to 231 degrees. We began in the Salt Room where we met the spa connoisseur who shared her life with us and gave us advice on how to spend our remaining 20s: Try everything and don’t ever give up your career. Understood. Remember that towel you picked up? You want to use it to cover the provided headrests. Who knows who last sweated there.
By the time we listened to her entire life story, I had thoroughly sweated through my shirt and couldn’t handle another second in the heat, so we bolted straight for the Ice Room, my favorite. After visiting the Clay Room, we decided to take a break and head on over for some snacks.
2. We’re actually Korean, we can’t order the chicken nuggets!
Thanks to Groupon and an amazing PR team, Wi Spa now has an extremely multi-ethnic clientele. We were the only Koreans inside the cafe. Just know that while the Korean food is just fine at the spa cafe, it’s priced nearly double what it’s worth, considering that most options are common street food. We ordered an overpriced plate of spicy rice cake and talked for nearly an hour about our respective failed relationships. It was $10 therapy. Then we had just enough time to soak in the tubs before our scrub downs.
3. It’s time to disrobe
Just like the cold and hot rooms, there are cold and hot tubs. It’s now time to go back to your locker and remove all your clothes. If you’re shy, you can use the provided robe. We rinsed our bodies before plopping into one of the hot tubs. You want to soak your skin in the hot water to prep it for a thorough scrub down.
4. The best $30 I’ve ever spent
This isn’t for everyone, but this is also the best that Korean spas have to offer and your Korean spa experience would be amiss without it — the body scrub. You lie on a table where the masseuse/scrubber takes exfoliating hand mitts and scrubs every centimeter of your body, physically removing every molecule of dirt on your epidermis. The result? You feel reborn again as if you found Jesus. She then rubs you down with some oil, gives you a body massage, washes your hair and your face, then you’re off to go — all for a measly $30. I’ve never felt so refreshed.
5. Unwind and laugh
There’s a whole slew of amenities that Korean spas offer for a flat entrance fee of $30 that I haven’t mentioned here. There are showers, saunas, and a computer section, along with a playpen for kids. But there is something to say for the least flashiest of these facilities, and that’s the waiting room. It’s a room partitioned to the side of the women’s floor that has a few couches and, better, a heated floor, where you can lie down and just unwind. Now that you’re completely clean and relaxed, this is the best time to grab a cup of coffee and wear your face mask, while watching a hilarious episode of Korean game shows.