It was a rainy, cool Sunday – very unusual California weather. I was longing for a warm and cozy place and remembered I always wanted to go to the Wi Spa in Koreatown. This is a one of a kind spa – not one I ever been to before. It’s close to Downtown LA and open 24 hours. I know what you’re thinking – but it is a legitimate Spa. 🙂 If you ever just have a layover in LA and need a few relaxing hours to hang out – this is the place to go. The entry fee is only $25 which includes access to the saunas and bath amenities. I didn’t know what to expect but I was ready for a day of surprise. I signed up for the buff & massage – which is their “signature” scrub down combined with a full body massage. When you check-in you will get their branded t-shirt, shorts, flip flops and towel for your stay. The spa is on several levels – one floor for women, one for men, one shared area with a restaurant and a rooftop. As it was my first time visiting the spa they explained the wellness etiquette – most importantly in the spa / sauna are no clothing allowed. Well, being from Germany that shouldn’t be a problem. So I got to the locker room and changed into my Wi Spa shirt and shorts and went up to the JimJilBang room to meet Ulli. When you enter you see people laying on mats on the floor, as the floors are heated. They also have a Korean restaurant, library, computer area and kids area up there. My favorite was to experience the different saunas: Bulgama (made out of oak wood), Salt Sauna (helps respiratory system), ice sauna (last stop) and my highlight was the clay sauna (clay is imported from Korea). You actually lie down in the warm clay stones to relax. Ahh that felt sooo good!
When it was time for my appointment I went down to the women’s spa area…this is where the real “fun” begins 🙂 As mentioned before, no clothing allowed here. I took a shower and waited in the hot tub to be called for my service. In this spa area are showers and seated showers – which I’ve never seen before. Also, many people were brushing their teeth here (they provide complimentary toothbrushes). I read afterwards that in Korea brushing your teeth is a big part of their culture. They brush several times a day and also in public spaces. Finally, my spa therapist (side note – they are not nude, but in underwear) would call my number. She guided me to the room for the scrub down. The spas I’ve been to in the past have a cushy massage table, tranquilizing music and aroma oil infused air – this one was a different experience. There were about 10 rubber tables in a row in a big bath house. I was put next to a group of 4 girlfriends that seemed a bit shy at first. But there’s no time to be embarrassed. My “therapist” advised me to lay face down on the table, and as soon as I put my head down a bucket of (warm) water was put over my entire body. Then she started scrubbing my entire body back and front and side for about 30 minutes. Yes it hurt but my skin felt like a newborn baby afterwards. After the scrub she put a cream in my hand said “wash your face, shower, 2 min dry sauna” and left. I didn’t have time to ask questions so I followed her commands (wouldn’t dare not to). When I came back I got a full body massage (the kind where she is actually sitting on my back at times) including a cucumber face mask and she even washed my hair (while sitting on a bucket at the end of the table). After about 60 minutes my Korean spa experience was over. I’m not a shy girl by all means – but I have to admit I was a bit uncomfortable occasionally. Just the fact that I was fully exposed on a table with 10 other strangers, but it was a true cultural experience and I honestly can’t wait to go back. Koreans really know about beauty care and my skin is so soft and clean. P.S. I’m sorry to disappoint but no pictures from the spa 😉
After my spa experience we stayed in Koreatown and went to the Beverly Tofu House for dinner. This restaurant was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s show – it’s very small and has delicious food (esp. for vegetarians- hard to find with Korean food). We were lucky to get a table right away. We ordered the Stone Plate Bibimbap which is an assortment of vegetables and egg over rice – ohh my favorite! We also got the Soon Tofu soup in a hot pot – yummy! Everything is delicious here!
This Sunday felt as we traveled for a day to Korea. That’s what I love about LA most – you can experience so many different cultures in one area.
I’m already in the mood for another day at Wi spa and Korean food….who’s coming with me?