I think it is important to regularly get awesome things done to your body that require surrendering your time and attention to feeling delicious. I’m going to keep track of good places to do that here (below I am adding a set of places I haven’t been but have recommendations from beloveds):
Spas, Saunas, Exfoliations, Massages:
In general, everyone in the world knows how to unwind and that has migrated. Key words/origins for spa brilliance are Russian, Korean, Japanese, Finnish and Turkish spas.
First of all RIP Osento, which was a female day spa with outdoor wooden saunas, a cold pool and a sun deck in the heart of the Mission.
Variety of alternatives include:
Kabuki – fancy fancy Japanese style day spa with indoor sauna, steam room, hot tub, cold tub, massage and facial/skin treatments. Downside is – it’s overpriced and kind of snooty the way folks are about sounds. Upside is – it’s deeply quiet, there’s lot of nice touches like cucumber water, rooibos tea, and sarongs. IF you get a massage book with Xavier.
The Foot and Tea Spa on the lake in Oakland is a guaranteed good time. The foot massage includes shoulders and arm massage, a foot soak, tea. Or you can go back for a full body massage. Living social regularly has coupon packages here, and they send out holiday discounts on the mailing list, so keep an eye out.
Psy Health Town – a super amazing Korean Day spa in San Leandro. This is worth the 25 minute drive. The exfoliation is full body and includes a rub down, milk, oil, shampoo and conditioning, a facial, and massage. There’s a sacred jade room, a steam room, a hot tub, a cool tub, a reflexology walk – you leave the place feeling like you have a new skin on.
Piedmont Springs – this is great for a private session – alone or with a friend you want to have a good deep conversation with. Book the double room with the outdoor hot-tub and indoor sauna.
Kweli Tutashinda – for seriously deep chiropractic work including soft tissue from a philosopher. Kweli is a brilliant writer and thinker who operates on the border of Oakland/Berkeley and increases your back alignment while sharing life practices, stretches, and thoughts on revolution.
Further north, in Petaluma (relevant for all of us who do somatics training or other meetings up that way), is Jessie Jing, where you can get an hour long massage for $25! They say foot massage but they cover everything, and the massage chairs in the waiting room are inversion chairs with heat, awesome back treatment while you wait.
Further north than that, about a three hour drive from Oakland, is the magical Orr Hot Springs. This place is the truth. Quiet, naked, under the sun or stars, mineral hot springs open you up. Several pools, private tubs, sauna, steam room, cold pool for $20 or less. You can add massage treatments (relatively affordable pricing). You can stay a few days and use communal kitchen to cook in. Totally disconnected from phone and WiFi service so it’s a deep disconnect in the best way.
The last time I was in LA I went to the Super affordable WI Spa, which is a classic Korean spa with a variety of hot tubs, a cold pool, steam room, sauna, communal exfoliation treatments where you can get a skin taken off (great for moments of transformation, grief, letting go), private acupressure massage area, and those awesome little shower stations where you can soak your get or pour buckets of water on your head. Plus side for those who like to spa and still work a little, waiting room with a heated floor, comfy couches and WiFi and coffee. I could imagine pulling an awesome all nighter there, and it’s open all night.
Ooh also Century Day and Night Spa is great – I recommend it on a Friday night, quiet and everything is in one lovely calm space.
Must recommend the hot stone Thai massage at http://www.anantadayspa.com/contact!
Aqua Day Spa
This spot is $20 entry for a really cozy little Korean day spa with a hot tub, dry and wet sauna, red clay room and ice pool. Services are affordable – I got reflexology one time and the exfoliation/massage another and both were solid.
Lake Steam Baths was lovely. It’s a Russian style steam room, a wet sauna, a hot tub, fantastic services. The practitioners each work on their own and handle the money well, similar to most Korean Spas I’ve been to. They also had someone there with biofeedback baths for the feet. Amazing. Multiracial. Oh and super affordable! $20 for the bath, 90 minute massage for $65, salt scrub was $15, the foot thing was $20. $120 for deep spa experience with generous tips.
Southfield Family Sauna and Tub is the main one I frequent. It’s Finnish style sauna’s and about $30-40 an hour. I recommend the double room which has sauna and hot tub with a private shower. Spring the $1 for some eucalyptus oil for the sauna, and bring a big bottle of water. Phone: (248) 350-9351
Om Day Spa is a new favorite. It’s pricier, so requires savin up for the splurge. But they have this thing called a Vichy shower with some magical number of spigots that pour water down like a waterfall all over you. My bodyworker noted that I was groaning, always a good sign. Reservations at 313.565.9686
Recently reaffirmed: Russian and Turkish Baths is the first real baths I ever went to, the first time I learned the power of a cold pool and radiant heat. It’s still my favorite in terms of convenience and bang for the buck.
One of the best massage options in NY is a man named Tony, a Chinese Olympian-turned masseuse who works out of a basement in Chinatown. The rates are incredible – $30 for an hour last time I went. And he does deep tissue and acupressure work. Call 212-625-8996 to book.
Exciting discovery: a really nice clean Russian bath in Brooklyn! Check out Brooklyn Banya, on Coney Island Avenue. $30 for all you can sweat access to the saunas, hot and cool pools and steam room. Added bonus: pierogis, borscht, towels and water. Next time I’m getting the Vichy shower massage – $25 for 45 minutes.
Random but Donique at the MSP F Terminal XpresSpa is a skilled masseuse.
Chung Dam Spa
Totally affordable Korean day spa in North Philly. Once you’re inside it feels like being safe away from the world.
Who knew? But I got to go to a gathering in Sundance, UT and the spa there was wonderful. All of their services are based in indigenous approaches to health, well-being and wholeness.
For under $25 you can spend unlimited time in the gorgeous outdoor hot tubs, sauna, foot pool and cold dip at Ten Thousand Waves. The treatments available are not affordable but the place is stunning, modeled after Japanese mountain hot springs. If you do save up for a massage, it will be worth it.
Thai Massage and Spa: 2707 Fountain View Road. Lovely Thai massage with Sandra, who has an easy relaxing touch. This spot has dope body scrubs and my Oprah-favorite-thing: Vichy shower!! Feels like heaven head to toe.
In Malmo, Sweden there is a sauna in the sea called Bjerreds Saltsjöbad. You walk out on a dock into the ocean, and at the end is a sauna split into male/female. There are three saunas to choose from, and then you jump directly into the ocean to cool off. It was only 6 euros when I was there, and gorgeous.
In Paris, France is the famed hammam at the Paris Mosque. This is one of the most beautiful steam/sauna experiences I’ve ever had, and its walking distance from most of downtown Paris. Ask to be exfoliated – it’s worth it.
In Dubai, my friend Larisa and I went to Argana Spa for their Moroccan Bath. Small private steam rooms with a triple layer treatment (olive oil soap, mud, rose salt scrub) and hair treatment with Moroccan tea afterwards. They post deals on their page for Buy One Get One Free options!
Recommendations From Others
I have not YET been to the places below, but they are recommended by people I know to be fly and aware of race, gender, sexuality, ability and others comfort needs. Let me know if you have others!
Check out Betty’s Bath (recommended by Adela Nieves)
Al Pacha turkish spa. Best scrubs, old school shared Turkish bath, you get a scrub, wash down, and massage for a very affordable 20 jds. (from Amneh)
Jeju Spa is recommended by so many people!! I can’t wait to get there.
Archimedes Banya in San Francisco (from Hallie Montoya Tansey)
Harbin Hot Springs – Leah says “and if you go on Yelp, you will find my snarky review of Harbin, but I do love it. You do have a do a “creepy cultural appropriator white guys away” spell, but the fig tree temple and deer roaming around get me. I have often cooked meat on a camp stove just outside the limits.”
Check out Truth, Beauty and Wellness (recommended by Adela Nieves)
Imperial Health Spa (from Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarahinsa)
Olympic Spa in Koreatown. (from Celia Alario and Molly Talcott)
New York City:
Gender friendly spa Juvenex Spa. It’s made out of jade, owned by a Korean and Persian couple. Great aryuvedic jacuzzis, with lemon, roses, ginger, with different temperatures. Scrubs are out of this world, and all couples welcomed after 5pm. (from Amneh Taye-Darras)
Hothouse Spa and Sauna (Leah!)
I haven’t been to this one, but my sharkfemme homey Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha says when in Toronto, Body Blitz Spa is the place to be. She says: ‘olympic size salt water hot tub with waterfalls!’ I can’t wait to check this out 🙂