The Korean spa market is getting rough—new spas are opening left and right, and not all of them are as gentle as your skin is after a full-body exfoliation. But these standout Korean spas offer a range of experiences, from affordable spa treatments to Korean beauty products to elaborate saunas or tubs reminiscent of water parks where you can spend the whole day eating and lounging by the pool. Get ready for a physical, emotional and spiritual workout.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best spas in NYC
Find a great Korean spa in NYC
If you’ve visited Spa Castle in Queens, then you know why we’re pumped about this Manhattan location, which opened in late 2014. Occupying floors seven, eight and nine in a midtown building, Spa Castle Premier 57 is the ultimate relaxation mecca. The shoe-free facility (you’ll still have to wear those odd T-shirt/shorts uniforms) features "Sauna Valley," an area boasting six types of rooms (including cold saunas, one paved with gold—seriously—and an infrared lounge), a swim-up full service bar and a year-round roof deck. Day passes (which include access to tubs and other communal areas) are $65. Food, drinks and treatments cost extra. No one under the age of 16 is admitted.
Super high-tech and sparkling-clean, this three-level spa, which opened in 2007, seems like an unlikely fit for 33rd Street. Buried in Koreatown, the 12,000-square-foot traditional Asian-style spa houses four igloolike saunas (the Hwangto Dry Grotto, Crystal & Jade Dry Grotto, Crystal & Jade Steam Grotto and Stone Ice Grotto), which contain minerals and salts for bettering your skin. After enjoying the saunas, your technician will shepherd you to one of the many treatment rooms—dedicated to everything from massages (start at $75) to Asian body scrubs (start at $120) and microdermabrasion facials (start at $120). Bonus: The spa is open seven days a week, from 10am to 2am. Sounds like an excuse for a ladies night!
This expansive wonderland in College Point, Queens, has taken on near legendary status in NYC, partly for its quirky layout and partly because it attracts a diverse following, with frat boys and families among the patrons. On its first floor are separate nude bathing and showering areas for men and women. To meander through the rest of the complex, you'll don special "uniforms" (pink tees and orange shorts for ladies, gray shirts and blue bottoms for gents). On the second and third floors, you'll find a coed, year-round outdoor water park (bathing suits compulsory) with all manner of heated jets, whirlpools and showers. Inside, there are seven themed saunas; one might have healing minerals in it, while another may feature colored lighting (you select the therapeutic illumination yourself).
O.K., so technically this spot isn't in NYC proper, but to experience the country's largest and most accommodating Korean Spa, it's worth the quick jaunt to Jersey. It's unlikely that you'll even cover the whopping eight floors of treatments that this relaxation arena offers, including nine pools, seven sauna rooms, a restaurant and adjoining hotel. But we dare you to try. Among the highlights at this full-service facility are the spectacular rooftop infinity pool, which offers an untouchable view of the NYC skyline; a volcanic sand treatment using rare lava sand imported from Japan; and a scorching charcoal sauna. In summer months, the outdoor pools easily beat the sardine baths of the city, and the indoor saunas will reinvigorate you no matter how brutal the winter gets. There's really no reason to leave when you're in the K-Spa equivalent of Disneyland.
An unassuming Koreatown building is home to this huge, soundproof, round-the-clock oasis. Shy gals take note: Nudity is encouraged in the communal areas, full-body scrubs are executed in shared, barely screened-off spaces, and the spa goes unisex after 7pm. The facilities are impressive, though; lolling in one of the igloo-like saunas, made from 20 tons of jade stones and infused with Chinese herbs, is said to increase metabolism, improve circulation and detox the body. Standard spa treatments like facials; massages and body wraps are offered, too.
More and more people are flocking to this place, also known as Jjim-jihl-bhang, to avoid the chaos that SpaCastle can be. The Flushing establishment offers the same amenities as the aforementioned spa, but on a smaller scale and with a truly authentic experience. One highly admirable feature is its second-floor dining hall, which offers traditional Korean meals and adds to the spa’s authentic appeal.
Built in 2000, this spot has garnered attention for creating the full spa experience. Massages at the Silk Day Spa range from a Native American–inspired hot stone massage to the Mommy Marvel, which relieves tension for expectant mothers. The most noticeable trait is its dedication to keeping a true Korean aesthetic, with dimmed lights and plenty of bamboo decorations.
This quaint Midtown gem has very simple services—but it does them very well. Only offering massages, Spa Sol is one large room with thick curtains separating each massage table (no private sessions). The massages come in several different packages, which include an oriental full-body exfoliation or a Swedish, shiatsu or Thai massage.