I'm not a spa person. At least, I wasn't a spa person until last Monday. I've appreciated a good massage or two from boyfriends past, I've done the Russian Banya thing (which I LOVE), but in terms of a fancy spa package, it was never something I went out of my way to prioritize on top of clothes and/or travel.
I had this gift card to Aire Ancient Baths (NYC) just sitting around for months, and I decided to finally use it when I deliberately took a few days off from work for some "me time." My package was: The Ancient Thermal Bath & 60 minute massage. Booking was super easy online, and all I had to do was show up with a bathing suit.
Each of the baths has a fancy name, but what you need to know is the NYC location has a salt bath (my personal favorite), a jacuzzi, a warmish bath, a hot bath, two cold plunges, a steam room infused with aromatherapy, and a heated relaxation area where you can refuel with water or hot tea.
When I first walked in from the locker room, I was really impressed by the architecture (the building used to be some old factory), the fact that there were only candles lighting up the whole place, how few people there were (they only allow a certain number of reservations), and TBH, how fancy it was. I'd never been anywhere like it. I'd heard rumors that Aire was extremely couple-y, so being completely alone was a bit nerve-wracking at first, but I came to learn that this is the perfect setting to be alone with your thoughts.
I spent about 10-15 minutes in each bath, and also spent some time switching between the steam room and relaxation area. I drank so many cups of tea, I was headed to the bathroom a lot too. After my first hour, one of the staff found me and got me prepped for my 60 min massage. The massage room didn't have any doors, but rather beaded curtains separating each massage table. I was a little uncomfortable getting undressed, and on top of that, I had a male masseuse, but all that melted away with the amazing massage. I really needed it.
I had another hour left in the baths after my massage, and I used it mostly to float around in the salt bath, as well as switch between the hot bath and cold plunge. As someone who's braved (and THRIVED at) the Russian Banya on Ave. A, my only complaint about Aire was that the hottest bath they had felt like any hot bath I would take at home, and it could have been hotter. That said, I still did the cold plunge after every hot dip- might I add, I was the only one during my session who had the guts!
My experience didn't end with the baths; When I'd had enough (your body will tell you), I headed back to the locker room to shower and get ready to face the world again. In the shower, there was L'Occitane shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. There were products lined up for post-shower use, which also included L'Occitane cream and other essentials you might find at your gym. On top of that, the locker room attendant took my bathing suit, dried it for me, and put it in a plastic bag. It's the little things like that, that really make the experience so amazing.
My takeaways are:
- It's time to start budgeting some spa time throughout the year. We live in a stressful world and owe it to ourselves to let go, relax, and get a massage every now and then.
- If you want alone time, need to get out of bed and off Netflix, and you don't want to feel awkward about being alone, this is the activity for you.
- 3 hours without a phone is in itself a huge source of relaxation