If you come to Los Angeles and you want to be pampered, the best-kept secret is the Korean Spa.
Scattered throughout K-town and greater Los Angeles, these hidden gems — called ‘jjijilbang’s — will transform the average woman or man’s spa experience. Clean, quiet, and full of naked people, these establishments are a fruit of Korean tradition. I still make little errors now and then during my jjijilbang visits.
Here is a little guide to help anyone who is looking for a luxurious, affordable Korean day spa experience in Los Angeles.
1. It’s affordable.
For $15-$25, you’re free to use the spa facilities, including the shower, saunas, warm & cool Jacuzzis and resting areas. Some locations also allow guests to lounge in various rooms that are infused with minerals, clay, or ice. After a massage, you can also enjoy ramen and kimchi in the cafeteria.
2. The Catch: you’re 100% naked in the shower, sauna, and whirlpool areas.
The wary first-time customer who attempts to sneak in with a bathing suit will be asked to remove her clothes or leave. If you’re not comfortable with nudity, a Korean spa simply isn’t for you.
3. Take off your shoes.
In Korean homes, it’s customary to remove your shoes and not track germs all over the floor. The floors are usually heated, and there are sandals you can borrow.
4. Wash before entering the whirlpools.
You can do a quick soapy rinse, or like me, you can enjoy a full on shower. And don’t forget to bring your toiletries (facial cleanser, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo & conditioner, etc.)
5. No need to carry around cash.
Instead, you are given a bracelet with a key to your locker with a number, so you will be identified when you start a tab.
6. Speak softly.
Korean spas are relaxing locations, and we really don’t care to hear about your drama. You don’t want to be “that loud person,” so do be quiet and respectful too.
7. Don’t cut your toenails, shave, wax, apply masks, and the like.
A certain level of cleanliness is vital (I mean come on, we’re all naked).
8. Get a body scrub.
The body scrub is the plat du jour at a Korean spa. These treatments are usually done in a partitioned space with other spa goers. An attendant in a lacy black bra & panty set scrubs every morsel of dirt from your dermis. You are then doused in soaps, thoroughly massaged, and your hair is shampooed. You then wear a mask for 5 to 10 minutes. Upon the end of the treatment, you’re smothered in oils and lotions. After your scrub, your skin will be soft for weeks. It’s a work of art, really.
9. Sit back and relax.
Read a book, listen to music in your headphones, watch Korean dramas. I typically stay for 3 – 5 hours, depending on the location. It’s an awesome way to spend a lazy Sunday.
1. Whenever you say hello, goodbye, or thank you to the staff, show respect by slightly bowing your head.
Images featuring Wi Spa, 2700 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057. (213) 487-2700. Images derived from the website.