The Run Down

For a lot of Chicagoans, it's not about getting used to the cold-weather season but finding ways to cope with it until summer rolls around. This guide is one of those coping mechanisms. You'll spend the day jumping between pools, saunas, and heated relaxation rooms. In between, you'll stay warm with a sizzling bowl of kimchi soup and other Korean eats. 

1. Disrobe and Relax @ Wet Spa

2. Put on Uniform and Rejuvenate @ Lounge

3. Traditional Korean Food @ Food Court

4. Sleep @ Resting Areas

1. Wet Spa

In your first visit to a spa like King Spa, you might find it a bit daunting. We’ll guide you through the process, simple and clear.

Upon entering, you’ll see a counter where you register and pay. They’ll hand you a key, strapped to wear around your wrist, leading you to either the Men’s or Women’s locker and wet spa.

Before the main locker, there’s a staging area with uniforms (oversized shorts and shirts) on a shelf and small lockers for shoes. Shoes are forbidden past this point. So, leave your shoes, grab your uniform, and proceed to your locker.

Store your belongings, and shed your clothes. The initial strangeness of baring it all gives way to freedom soon enough. Visiting with friends? You’ll only grow closer.

The adjacent wet spa (not co-ed) offers showers, three heated pools from warm to nearly scalding, a cold pool, and a sauna. Cleanse in the showers and transition between the pools. Some say shifting from cold to hot has health perks. I can’t say for sure, but I’m inclined to believe it.

Before we continue on. Here are some logistics notes to keep in mind.

– King Spa is open 24 hours. The wet spa closes from 2am – 6am for cleaning

– Entrance fee is $60/person, but there are always coupons online that you can find. If you sign-up for their mail list, you can get in for $35

– The key and bracelet you get when you enter the spa has a electronic chip which is scanned every time you purchase something inside the spa (food, massages, etc.). You then pay off everything when you check out.

-If you do spend the night, you might want to think about bringing ear plugs as you’ll be sleeping with other people nearby. They’ll charge you an additional $20 for an overnight stay (if you stay past 2am).

2. Co-Ed Lounge

After your soak, don the uniform and venture to the co-ed lounge. This is where you’ll probably spend a majority of your time. The lounge is filled with rows of comfy chairs, and areas where you can play board games, watch TV, or just nap.

Kiln saunas encircle the lounge. These are basically large hot rooms, each with their own medicinal properties. You have the freedom to drift between any of the nine. Below are pictures of two kiln saunas to give you an idea of what to expect.

Below is the Amethyst Room: a sanctuary exceeding 100 degrees, cushioned with bamboo mats, and adorned with amethyst crystals. There, wooden blocks, shaped just right, support your head.

The Gold Room is similar, but walls are lined with gold—touted for disease remedy and anti-aging properties.

3. Food Court

When hunger strikes, a food court beside the lounge serves a vast array of Korean delicacies. Though pricier than nearby Asian markets, like the neighboring H-Mart, a meal for two will cost you roughly $20-$30.

After immersing ourselves in the kiln saunas, we indulged in their Korean fried chicken and kimchi fried rice, complete with customary side dishes. The chicken, crisply fried, paired well with a light slaw, balancing its richness. The kimchi fried rice provided a savory anchor to the meal.

4. Rest Area

You can jump between the wet spa and lounge areas for a few hours, but if you’re ready for a power nap, head to the quiet rooms on the second level. For people who are spending the night, this is where most people go to rest, but you can basically pick any place in the spa to sleep.

Below is the infrared room, which is lined with cushioned mats and head rests. The room is dark, warm, and illuminated with infrared lights, said to aid soft tissue healing.

We opted for the neighboring Oxygen room. Dividers between mats made for added comfort, and the warmth of the room negated the need for blankets.