Local Highlights

5 Chicago spas & saunas to thaw out during the cold winter


Winter in Chicago can be brutal. Layering up and facing those grey, slushy, windy days is simply a fact of life here. Even so, Chicagoans occasionally get desperate for a little relief – and that goes for newcomers and longtime residents alike.Luckily, there are plenty of places to warm your bones and de-stress in the Windy City. We’ve rounded up the absolute best spas and saunas to get you through the winter – or give you an emotional recharge, whatever the weather.

1. Aire Ancient Baths

This bathhouse celebrates traditional rituals of relaxation and restoration in the Greek, Roman, and Ottoman empires. Located in a restored factory building, the industrial brick and columns are transformed into a relaxing, candlelit retreat. Specials for couples encourage bringing a date to spoil, but the solo experience can be just as rewarding after a stressful week.Enjoy a long wine soak, or a variety of massage experiences using olives, Himalayan salt, or argan oil. Even a simple tour of the baths, each set at a different temperature, will warm you to the core and help you shed some of that dead winter skin. If you’ve been hitting the gym, the Athlete Ritual will give you the Olympian treatment you need to help your muscles recover and invigorate you with the boost you need to do it all over again.

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2. Freeze and Float

Freeze and Float offers three rejuvenating therapies totally unlike the traditional spa experience. Where a typical sauna heats the room, their infrared saunas use special heating units to raise your body temperature directly. That helps you break a healthy sweat and improve your circulation, so you can keep warm even after you’ve left. The cryotherapy chamber is like an ice bath on steroids, and those that brave it stand in -130 degree temperatures for three-minute intervals. While it may sound intense, it’s great for joint pain and muscle relief, as well as promoting healthy sleep cycles. But the real treat is the float chambers, where the body-temperature salt water lets you float with ease. While weightless and free of distractions, you’ll be able to achieve a dreamlike Theta state, which offers easy access to your unconscious mind. A good float session relieves stress and rejuvenates your creativity, while activating your brain’s natural healing abilities. This is perfect for crunch times (i.e. before an exam or big presentation) when you want to give your brain a little boost.

chicago spas

3. King Spa

This Korean-style spa is vast, with two floors of saunas, hot tubs, pools, a restaurant, and even a movie theater to relax in. The space is divided into nude same-gender areas and clothed shared spaces. There are plenty of additional services available, such as massage, salt scrubs, and acupressure, as well. King Spa’s relaxing atmosphere is a great place to read, nap, or take a mental vacation from the city. It’s the perfect destination to relax, alone or with company. Arguably the best bang for your buck in the city, admission gets you a full day of access, and even overnight for a few dollars more. Groupon regularly offers discounts, and on Mondays, you can get a day pass for $24 from the H-Mart nearby. The extra services aren’t cheap, but they are certainly more affordable than the luxurious hotel spas – and it’s worth spoiling yourself once in a while, isn’t it?

4. Red Square Chicago Bathhouse

Although it’s the oldest traditional bathhouse in the city (and one of the oldest in the country), Red Square is certainly not behind the times when it comes to top-notch spa services and amenities. Red Square is known for its traditional Turkish saunas that are heated up to 200 degrees – perfect for thawing your bones on the coldest of days. When the heat gets too much, you can fill a bucket with ice-cold water for a sobering blast that increases your circulation and opens your pores. Platza treatments offer a combination of aromatherapy and exfoliation using oak, eucalyptus, and birch leaves to brush your skin.More familiar services, such as massage, soap scrubs, a variety of salon treatments, and tanning beds round the place out and ensure there’s no shortage of ways to treat your mind, body, and soul to luxury. A restaurant offers traditional Russian fare, with a full, vodka-heavy bar for a little extra cheer. 

5. The Peninsula Spa

Located in the Peninsula Hotel, The Peninsula Spa draws inspiration from Ayurvedic and Asian healing therapies, including a variety of Ayurvedic massage techniques and hot stone treatments. Check out the Sleep Support Therapy for help getting a good night’s rest when you’re experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder.If you book two or more hours of treatments, you’re free to explore other hotel amenities – but leave your phone beyond, as this is a technology-free zone. Go for a swim in the spacious pool and enjoy a view from the surrounding city through floor to ceiling windows, relax by the fireplace in the lounge, or enjoy a yoga session in the fitness center. Don’t forget to warm up in the steam room before you head back out!

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