LA's Best Korean Spas Are Waiting To Make Your Dry, Chapped Skin As Dewy As A Baby's Butt
What's the perfect way to disconnect from the world and ponder what life would be like in a mirror universe where facts are indisputable and basic decency is the norm? A Korean spa. And Los Angeles has a lot of them.
What's The Protocol?
Your entrance fee, usually $15 to $40, gets you access to hot pools, cold pools and saunas along with areas where you can nap, slurp bowls of spicy soup and do some light reading. If you want to go VIP, add a facial, a mani-pedi or a full-body scrub, known as a seshin.
At most spas, you can just show up. When you check in at the front desk, you'll receive your uniform (usually a robe or shorts and a T-shirt), towels and some sort of wristband with a key or electronic device that lets you access your locker. Now's the time to book additional services, if you haven't already called to book them in advance.
At spas that serve both men and women, the facilities are divided by gender, with areas for women and men located in different wings or on different floors. Head to the appropriate locker room and use your wristband to find your locker.
Get undressed and feel free to slip on your uniform, although you'll notice the spa area is fully nude. The discomfort quickly fades away. Everyone else is nude too. Always shower before entering the pools. Shower again after sweating in any of the steam rooms or saunas, especially if you plan to take another soak. If you have long hair, be sure to tie it up.
Most spas provide basic amenities like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and body lotion. If you want to bring your own products -- face masks, body scrubs and scrubbing mitts are popular items -- feel free to take them with you into the spa area. You may also want to bring skin care and makeup products to gussy yourself up when you're all done. At most spas, people go barefoot but you're welcome to bring a pair of flip-flops.
If you are getting a body scrub, make sure to spend about a half hour in a steam room or hot tub prior to your appointment so you can soften your skin. When the time comes, your specialist, known as a ddemiri, will emerge and call your name or number. Laying down fully nude on a table, you'll be splashed with warm water and vigorously scrubbed over your entire body until your dead skin flakes off in shriveled, gray bits. At the end, your skin will be unfathomably soft and as smooth as it's been since you emerged from the womb. The buff shine lasts for three to four days for most people.
Never bring your phone into a nude area. Some spas offer WiFi in common areas. Unless you're in one of these spaces, don't play music or watch videos or talk on your cell phone. The spa is supposed to be a place to relax. This is a good time to whip out that book or magazine you've been meaning to read.
Signs should guide you through the rules, and it's fine to mention you've never been before and would like a quick tour when you pay your entrance fee.
Wi Spa is the best known Korean spa in Los Angeles, offering a robust list of amenities 24 hours a day. Some people even use the multi-story facility -- complete with showers, WiFi and sleeping areas -- in lieu of a hotel.
The men's and women's spa areas are on separate floors. In the spa, you'll enjoy two hot tubs, a cold pool, a steam room and a dry sauna. Basic hygiene products, including disposable toothbrushes, are provided. If you want to splash out, they offer scrubs, massages, facials, mani/pedis and other treatments.
On the second floor, the family-friendly, all-gender jimjilbang contains several saunas with the temperatures displayed outside each one. The jade, salt and clay saunas are kept at a toasty 130 °F, while the Bulgama is a blistering 213 °F. To cool down, visit the ice sauna.
In the center of this area you'll find a heated floor where you can throw down a pad and take a nap, read a book (your own, or one from their library), or quietly use your phone. The restaurant, which serves coffee, juice and Korean dishes is also located on this floor. Use your wristband to order, then pay when you leave the spa.
Guests can also work out in the fitness center or lounge on the rooftop terrace, which contains a secluded smoking section. Other amenities include a kid's area and computer stations.
WHERE: 2700 Wilshire Blvd., Westlake
PHONE: (213) 487-2700
HOURS: Open 24 hours
COST: $25 entrance fee or $35 between midnight at 3:59 a.m. Guests who come before midnight but choose to stay will be charged an additional $10 fee. Entrance fee is waived with treatments of $120 or more.
PARKING: Free parking lot on site.
TREATMENTS: Scrubs, massages, facials, manicures, pedicures.
Beverly Hot Springs
Beverly Hot Springs doesn't have as many amenities as some other Korean spas, but it's the site of the only natural hot spring in Los Angeles. The well was discovered by Richard S. Grant, who bought the land to build a housing development in 1910. According to the Los Angeles Times, it didn't become a spa until the mid-1980s, when Olympic weightlifter Chang Bum Huh and his wife, Dr. Yang Cha Kim, bought it.
The spa is divided by genders and the whole place feels like a peaceful oasis. The large, hot mineral bath -- the water emanates from 2,200 feet underground -- and cold plunge are in a dimly lit grotto decorated with plants and statues. A waterfall provides a tranquil sonic backdrop but all other noise is discouraged. Other amenities include a steam room and a sauna as well as padded lounge chairs for napping, reading and meditating.
Basic bath products can be found in the showers and dressing room areas. There is no restaurant on this property.
WHERE: 308 N Oxford Ave., Koreatown
PHONE: (323) 734 7000
HOURS: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
COST: $30 Monday-Thursday, $40 Friday-Sunday.
PARKING: Free Parking in lot behind spa.
TREATMENTS: Facials, scrubs, massages, hair removal.
Only for women, Olympic Spa operates much like Wi. You get your wristband and a pale green robe then shuffle into the locker room and spa area. Here, you can change and enjoy a hot cup of barley tea or coffee. A heated jade floor is perfect for napping, reading or lounging while you apply a sheet mask to your face. Pads, pillows and blankets are provided. You can also sweat out impurities in the infrared or salt saunas.
In the wet spa area, a hot and cold pool are complimented by a small tub of hot mugwort tea, which is believed to have a variety of healing properties. This area also contains showers, a steam room and a dry sauna.
Pad barefoot down the hall, past the restroom and find the cafe, which serves juices and Korean fare. A piping hot, spicy tofu soup is perfect after a long soak or scrub. (Use your device to order.) Wi-Fi is available but this is the only area of the spa where you're allowed to use your phone or computer. If you want to do that, there's another heated floor where you're free to chat with friends or check email.
WHERE: 3915 W. Olympic Blvd., Koreatown. Free parking available behind spa, off Norton.
PHONE: (323) 857 0666
HOURS: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
COST: $25. Admission is waived for treatments priced at $80 or more.
PARKING: Free valet parking.
TREATMENTS: Massages, scrubs, nail care, waxing, threading.
Century Day & Night Spa
As you enter Century Day & Night Spa, just down the street from Olympic Spa, you'll be able to scope out the two-story, outdoor driving range. Yes, you can also practice your golf swing here.
Inside, you'll find spas for men and women. In the latter, two hot pools are backed by trickling water features while muzak is piped in. Perhaps you'll enjoy the saxophone cover of "Bad Romance." This area also contains a cold plunge pool, a dry sauna and a steam room. For a supremely relaxing experience, head into the mist sauna and sit on a stone bench while a warm mist gently sprinkles over you.
In the mixed gender jimjilbang, you'll be able to nap on the floor or sweat in the mineral salt room. This is also where you'll find the restaurant, which serves Korean food daily from 9:30 a.m. to midnight. In the basement, you'll find both an indoor swimming pool and a spacious fitness center. It has free weights, weight machines and a yoga room where classes are offered free with admission, Monday through Thursday at 7 p.m. and on Saturdays at 2:30 p.m.
WHERE: 4120 W. Olympic Blvd.
PHONE: (323) 954-1020
HOURS: Women's Spa, daily from 6 a.m. to midnight. Men's spa, 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sundays and Thursdays, otherwise 6 a.m. to 3 a.m.
COST: $25, or $10 with services $70 to $100. Free spa entrance with services over $100.
PARKING: Free parking behind the spa, off Bronson.
TREATMENTS: Scrubs, massages, facials. An adjacent beauty salon is next to the main entrance.
Crystal Spa, on the third floor of the City Center Mall, is on the small side but has most of the amenities you'd expect. It's an Aveda concept spa, meaning all the products here will be Aveda as opposed to the fruity-smelling, unlabeled body washes and shampoos in most other spas.
The spa areas feature a hot tub, cold pool, steam room and sauna. The mixed gender jimjilbang offers Himalayan salt, charcoal and yellow sand rooms, all of which are lovely. After your soak and steam, cool down in the ice room and fill up on spicy rice cakes and seaweed soup in the cafe.
WHERE: 3500 W. 6th St., Ste. 321.
PHONE: (213) 475-5600
HOURS: Daily, 6 a.m. to midnight.
COST: $25 entrance fee, waived with treatments totaling $90 or more. $15 on Wednesdays.
PARKING: Free for six hours with validation; entrance off Mariposa.
TREATMENTS: Scrubs, facials, acupressure and foot massages, nail care, waxing.
Spa Palace is vast and, like WiSpa, open 24 hours. Visitors receive a uniform and an electronic locker key, which can also be used to order food and drinks.
Amenities include the usual pools, resting and sleeping rooms, an indoor swimming pool, a mixed gender jimjilbang and an on-site restaurant, juice bar and regular bar. Yes, this is a spa where you can drink beer! Not all amenities are available 24 hours a day, so plan accordingly.
Spa Palace also has a variety of heated rooms, including a Himalayan salt room, a gold room, a Loess soil room, which supposedly reduces stress and promotes blood circulation, and an Elvan stone room that is believed to help reduce blotchy skin. A "forest room" allows guests to lounge in chairs and breathe deep as it is pumped full of oxygen. An ice room offers a place to cool down. Slip outside to visit the garden, where tables and chairs can be found near a soothing waterfall.
WHERE: 620 Union Ave.
PHONE: (213) 637-0000
HOURS: 24 Hours
COST: $25 day pass; $35 if staying overnight.
PARKING: Free parking.
TREATMENTS: Facials, scrubs, body wraps, massages.
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