Nestled in suburban Queens is the Korean mega-spa, Spa Castle. When I was living on the east coast, Time Out New York was my bible of cannot miss things to do. TONY seemed to love Spa Castle and mentioned them constantly. However, I was still hesitant about a huge bathhouse in Queens with naked (non-coed) sections and little kids running around. Little kids that may or may not be potty-trained. I finally pulled the trigger after my hairdresser recommended it to me. She had just finished telling me that she had spent the previous weekend in Vegas partying with Jay-Z so I figured she was someone to listen to.
Photo credit: Spa Castle New York
Step 1: The Check-In Process at Spa Castle
Once we arrived at Spa Castle and checked in ($50/person on the weekdays and $60/person on the weekends for full access to the pools, saunas, and resting rooms) we were given a watch-looking device that worked as our locker keys and money. It definitely made for an extremely relaxing and hassle-free day. However, I was worried about just how much a hassle-free day would cost me. The prices for food and drinks were easy to see, but buying that last mudslide was a lot easier when it was just a flip of my wrist versus pulling out cash.
Stop 2: Bathhouse and Locker Lounge a.k.a. Naked Narnia
Once we got our wrist band and additional 21+alcohol bands it was time to enter into Disneyland for exhibitionists, the men’s and women’s locker room. This is where I found out that despite the fact that 9 times out of 10 I am the most inappropriate person in the room, I am quite the prude. Everywhere I looked, girls were air drying themselves by lying out on the locker room benches in all their glory or blow-drying their hair sans…. anything. I was the only one scampering around in a towel I brought from home (because the towels they lend you are the size of a washcloth).
Now for those of you as awkward about walking around stark naked as I am, that’s just for the locker room. You are given a t-shirt and shorts uniform to wear while you are outside the locker room. And it is a really comfortable uniform. Although not quite the height of fashion and in predictable pink for girls and blue for boys.
Now when I say “locker room” I don’t simply mean a place for you to put your belongings and change your clothes, I mean an amazing world of dry and wet sauna rooms, mineral pools, aqua-jets, and a healing room just to name a few. I dubbed it Naked Narnia.
Stop 3: Saunas a.k.a. World of Saunas at Spa Castle
Heading up the stairs from Naked Narnia (and into the co-ed sections of Spa Castle) we entered the World of Saunas (also dubbed by me, the real name is Sauna Valley). Pro-tip of the day: sauna is pronounced sow-na. Maybe that is common knowledge but I had no idea I had been pronouncing it wrong all my life until I stumbled upon a little informative pronunciation plaque over in World of Sauna.
Regardless of whether you call it saw-na or sow-na, just know… The World of Saunas is fantastic. There are eight themed saunas in all, arranged to look like a little village. They range from the very hot, never less than 185 degree sauna, to the very cold, never above 25 degrees sauna, and all the ones in between, which included infrared saunas, gold saunas and jeweled saunas.
Stop 4: All the Eating
Maybe we should have done our order a little differently in order to sweat off our lunch. In any case, after leaving the World of Saunas we went searching for food. There were sandwiches, dumplings, pizza, salad, you name it, including my favorite, the Korean plates offered on the top floor.
Stop 5: Indoor and Outdoor Pools at Spa Castle
One floor above the World of Saunas are a plethora of indoor and outdoor pools. The outdoor pools are heated and open year-round, meaning that even if you visit in the dead of winter the water is absolutely balmy and pleasant. However, being soaking wet and getting out of the pool into 25 degrees F weather can be less than pleasant. (We went in March.) But not to fear, there is also a sauna right next to the outdoor pools that freezing individuals such as yours truly can scamper into in order to drip dry.
Photo credit: Spa Castle New York
One of the indoor pools also comes with a swim-up / walk-up bar, which I used to inhale the aforementioned and delicious (anti-diet) mudslide. Spa Castle seemed pretty strict on alcohol consumption, as you are limited to 3 drinks per person. Pro-tip of the day: finagle your non-drinking cohort into getting a wristband so you can move on to drinking his allotted 3 drinks once you are finished with your own. You’re welcome.
Also, try to keep your uniform dry. As a rule, you cannot walk around the sauna area in your swimsuit. Therefore, after swimming, I put my uniform back on over my wet swimsuit and got the former wet as well. I was able to exchange them for a new/dry pair, but it took a lot of badgering and pleading. Needless to say, the Spa Castle workers were not thrilled with me.
Stop 6… really Stop 2 again: Naked Narnia 2.0
Having had our fill of pools (and mud-slides) we headed off back to the Naked Narnia locker room to get showered and changed. Be prepared for a total lack of privacy as there are no curtains in the shower area. Some of the best (or so I’ve been told) indoor bade spa pools are located in the locker room. However, they are very strict about their “must be naked” policy. I figured I could just be the only awkward one enjoying the pool in a swimsuit. After all, to each their own right? Wrong. It’s naked or nothing. I went with the “or nothing” route. Bryan had a lot fewer qualms than I did about Naked Narnia and tried out the various options. After a long sojourn, Bryan reported back that those pools, hot tubs, and saunas were the best at Spa Castle.
Stop 7: The Sleeping Room at Spa Castle
After getting our fill of Naked Narnia it was time to check out the sleeping and meditation rooms. It was basically a room full of reclining chairs. Bryan promptly passed out and I relaxed and caught up on my various social media threads. There was also a menu here of additional add-on services that you could request, like massages. And if you are so inclined (read: less lazy than the Hawaii Girl Travels fam) there is also a gym up on the top floor as well.
If you can get out to Queens hit this place up. The offerings are worth the entrance fee. I saw only a couple of children in the locker room and none in the co-ed sections, most likely because we went on a weekday (since we were trying to burn through some vacation days). You may end up seeing a lot of kids running around on the weekend since Spa Castle is always recommended as a great place for the entire family to enjoy.
Hawaii Girl Travels…
Check out Destinations to see all the other places I’ve talked about. For other New York City-related information, read about my Brooklyn weekend getaway, our 6-day trip back to NYC with an almost-three-year-old, and my recommendations of can’t miss things to see and do in New York City and the best places to eat in NYC if you don’t mind a hefty price tag.