I’m really not quite sure how to describe it. It’s a little tacky, a little Las Vegas, the Disneyland of Spadom (as a friend of mine describes it), but at the same time an idyllic paradise. King Spa in Niles is a surreal and satisfying experience. After kicking off your shoes, you get naked, you shower, and then you get to select from a smorgasbord of hot water pools (picture to the left) with jacuzzi and sculpted fish spouting water, each pool slightly warmer than the next. Of course, I had to try them all. There is also a cold water pool with a cascading waterfall along one wall and a shower from 10 feet above. There are two of these pool rooms, one for males and one for females. There is also a steam sauna in this area.
The coed section of the spa is filled with the dry saunas, each one filled with different minerals and heat temperatures to supposedly activate different energies in your body. There is the Amethyst room, the Gold room, the Charcoal room, the Yellow Mud room, the Ice room, the Bul Ga Ma room, the Base Rock room, and the Fire Sudatorium (pictured with glowing blue light to the right). These are like little houses, a little Las Vegasy on the outside, but pleasantly warm (except for the Ice room) on the inside. You are provided a t-short and baggy shorts to wear in this area– pink for females, gray for males, yellow for children.
King Spa also has a terrific restaurant of Korean food, healthy and well-prepared, with many, many different selections. They also have a wide variety of fresh juices available. The large room with the little heat houses is filled with tacky chairs, very throne-like (see picture above), but which are very comfortable. There is also a movie room filled with lazy boy chairs and a meditation room which is also really a space crammed with even more lazy boy chairs. In fact, one can stay overnight in the meditation room. (Did I mention King Spa is open 24/7?)
I had a body scrub which felt like being rubbed with a brillo pad, painful, but surprisingly refreshing. The body scrubs are done on one side of the pool room where there are maybe 6 or 7 other masseuses working on other women. And just when I thought the rub was over, she turned me over to do it all again. Periodically the woman who worked on me would splash basins of hot water over me to wash away my body’s debris. I wouldn’t be surprised if I lost at least a pound of scrubbed off skin. I might mention the odd dress of these masseuses– bras and panties. This is wet work and though bathing suits might have made more western cultural sense, their minimum fashion helps to create some of the surreal ambiance of King Spa. And the Asian massage that followed is not what you might call soothing. Like the body scrub it was a lot of pressure (the masseuse using elbows, knees, and knuckles) on pressure points, diving right into those knots and tight places without warning or sympathy. Asian massages or body scrubs are not for the faint of heart.
King Spa is indeed larger than life. I spent over 5 leisurely hours there and was totally relaxed when I left. I don’t know if I left many impurities back in the Charcoal Room or if the salt in the Salt Room truly penetrated my skin, but I do know that wandering around this body palace was creatively, humorously, and physically revitalizing and destressing. A perfect way to pamper myself.