RELAX! The Best Korean Spas To Work Up A Sweat

No number of resident yogis, meditation gurus, or shrinks can negate the fact that for the average citizen, the City of Angels is a minefield of stress. We're talking a massive drought that’s this close to causing mandatory shower rationing, the ever-present threat of "The Big One" plunging California into the Pacific, and, of course, rush-hour traffic, which can launch a perfectly sane Angeleno into a smog-fueled tizzy. But, luckily, our city's plethora of Korean spas can provide a much-needed reprieve.
For these urban sanctuaries, the word "spa" acts as a loose catch-all. Yes, there’s the requisite steam room and a dreamy treatment menu, but that's where the similarities end. That fluffy, white robe you know and love? Get ready to swap it out for your birthday suit. And, while a 45-minute facial and quickie steam constitute a day well spent at a traditional spa, Korean bathhouses are an all-senses-on-deck experience, where a single treatment can include a glorious combo of scrubbing, massaging, and hair-washing.
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The jjimjilbang (that's "bathhouse" in Korean, for the uninitiated) is steeped in tradition — each one boasting its own claim to fame (the Goddess treatment at Olympic spa is the stuff of legend). That said, many come with standard amenities. Think: hot-water plunge pools, herbal steam rooms, snacks (kimchi and green tea for all!), co-ed lounges, and complimentary wi-fi.
So, the next time you find yourself overwhelmed by L.A. life, just book it to the nearest K-spa for a blast of bliss. It’s totally worth enduring 20 minutes of bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Photo: Courtesy of Tikkun.
Tikkun Spa
The brainchild of Korean Reiki master Niki Han Schwarz and her husband, orthopedic surgeon Charles Schwarz, Tikkun spa offers the best of both of their worlds. And, while healing services like cranial-sacral massage, acupuncture, and body scrubs have burnt-out locals flocking here in droves, the (editor-tested!) Mugwort V-Steam has been picking up…um, steam. The time-honored Korean treatment is believed to remedy health issues of both the general and down-there varieties (including regulating menstrual cycles, aiding fertility, and reducing overall stress). And, don’t miss the far-infrared treatment rooms, incorporating materials from clay to salt to ice, available to all patrons at no extra charge.
Tikkun Spa, 1460 4th Street (at Broadway); 310-319-1111.
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Hankook Sauna & Spa
Don’t let the less-then-glam strip-mall location fool you: Hankook Sauna & Spa hits all the K-spa requirements, and then some. Dry sauna? Check. Ice room? Check. A treatment menu brimming with scrub, massage, and facial options? Check, check, and check! Then there’s the ginseng jacuzzi, mugwort steam sauna, and a small but well-stocked snack bar to round out the experience.
Hankook Sauna & Spa, 3121 West Olympic Boulevard (at South Harvard Boulevard); 213-388-8899.
Photo: Courtesy of Beverly Hot Springs.
Beverly Hot Springs
L.A. is full of surprises, not the least of which is the fully functioning alkaline well supplying Beverly Hot Springs with mineral-rich waters from thousands of feet below street level. After a soul-cleansing dip in the thermal pool, those in the know opt for the traditional Body Scrub & Body Care treatment combo. Phase one consists of head-to-toe exfoliation by way of seaweed soap and loofah. Fair warning: Things can get rough (in a good way, of course), so be prepared to leave behind a layer (or five) of dead skin along with your tip. Phase two nourishes the newly exposed skin with milk, fresh cucumber, and yogurt. Complete the experience with trips to the dry sauna and steam room.
Beverly Hot Springs, 308 North Oxford Avenue (at Beverly Boulevard); 323-734-7000.
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Crystal Spa
On our list of creative date-night ideas, Crystal Spa takes the coveted No. 1 spot. Get lost in hushed conversation while sharing a bowl of authentic bibimbap in the cozy jjimjilbang. Then, head to the co-ed mud, salt, and ice rooms before parting ways for individualized treatments, which range from authentic Korean body buffs to specialized facials (the wrinkle-busting Green Science is a must-try). So, what can you expect in terms of products? Two words: Aveda everywhere. Doors are open 24 hours on weekends, so go ahead and have that third martini with dinner — a sweat sesh is a tried-and-true hangover cure.
Crystal Spa, 3500 West 6th Street (at South Alexandria Avenue); 213-487-5600.
Photo: Courtesy of Wi Spa.
Wi Spa
Save for the co-ed jjimjilbang — where the whole family can spend quality time dry-sauna-hopping (jade, ice, and salt rooms are fan favorites). It’s girls on one floor, boys on another. And, for good reason, as the wet-sauna facilities have a strict no-clothes-allowed policy. The lengthy service menu boasts all manner of massage options and traditional head-to-toe Korean body scrubs, complete with a luxurious hair wash. There’s also an on-site gym if you prefer to get your sweat on the old-fashioned way, as well as a rooftop deck. Sounds like a lot to take in, right? Good thing Wi Spa is open 24/7.
Wi Spa, 2700 Wilshire Boulevard (at South Rampart Boulevard); 213-487-2700.
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Olympic Spa
In a world where body shaming is de rigueur, Olympic Spa is a refreshingly judgment-free zone. Enter this women-only oasis and prepare to check your insecurities — and your clothes — at the door for a day of pampering in the buff. Hit up the herbal baths and healing charcoal room first, then book the full-body Goddess treatment for close to two hours of uninterrupted relaxation. We’re talking a traditional Korean scrub and seaweed wash, followed by an aromatherapy massage using yummy Darphin products, scalp treatment, and toxin-releasing face-kneading. All this relaxation is bound to get a girl tuckered out; settle in for a snack from the on-site Korean restaurant, followed by a nap in the heated jade-floor room.
Olympic Spa, 3915 West Olympic Boulevard (near South Norton Avenue); 323-857-0666.
Photo: Courtesy of Century Day & Night Spa.
Century Day & Night Spa
As the name suggests, Century Day & Night Spa is a 24-hour operation. Treatment options for both men and women include all the usual suspects: body buffs, reflexology massages, co-ed jjimjilbang (the perfect spot to dig into an oversized portion of Korean shaved ice), and heated saunas. But, what separates this bathhouse from others peppering the city is the massive rooftop driving range and indoor swimming pool. And then, there’s the Milk Scrub & Cream Massage — a service so decadent you’ll wonder how you ever functioned without a weekly milk bath.
Century Day & Night Spa, 4120 West Olympic Boulevard (at Crenshaw Boulevard); 213-954-1020.
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Hugh Spa
Intense detoxification is the name of the game at this ladies-only spa. Achieve next-level stress relief by way of Korean acupressure massage — an ancient, pressure-focused form of touch therapy — and personalized herbal steams, tailor-brewed to target whatever ails you. And, though it’s not a traditional Korean remedy, per se, cupping sessions are a godsend for warding off colds and healing achy muscles.
Hugh Spa, 1101 South Vermont Avenue (at West 11th Street); 213-365-1268.
Photo: Courtesy of Natura Spa.
Natura Spa
Natura Spa is quite possibly the most humble of the bunch. For instance, there’s no common area for guys and gals to commingle. But, what it lacks in pomp, it more than makes up for in quality. The full-body buffs, administered out in the open rather than in private treatment rooms, are customizable — meaning you have the option to tone down the intensity of your treatment — and the facials have a reputation for giving fancy Western counterparts a run for their money. Its other claim to fame: The stellar menu of authentic Korean dishes — spicy noodle soup, kimchi, bibimbap — all served at the in-house restaurant.
Natura Spa, 3240 Wilshire Boulevard (at South New Hampshire Boulevard); 213-381-2288.
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Wilshire Spa
Wilshire Spa takes authenticity seriously. How seriously, you ask? The far-infrared charcoal room features imported-from-Korea yellow ocher, which, when warmed, promises to improve circulation and get rid of toxins. And, the traditional head-to-toe scrub puts you on the fast track to complete rejuvenation when paired with a Korean acupressure massage. Add on a trip to the in-house mineral-salt room and onyx jjimjilbang, and you get to experience the best of the East without leaving L.A. proper.
Wilshire Spa, 3442 Wilshire Boulevard (near South Mariposa Avenue); 213-387-0281.
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