Yes, Virginia, There is a Naked Korean Spa in Washington DC

How do I even begin to describe SpaWorld?  I spent 3.5 hours by myself in this 50,000 square-foot bathhouse and relaxation Mecca, and all I can say is that I am wowed and will be back!

SpaWorld, located in Centreville, Viriginia, about 45 minutes from downtown DC,  is the largest Asian-style “spa resort” in the country, according to its website, and as far as I can tell, one of only a few in the U.S. (other big ones are in Queens and New Jersey).  Known as a “jimjilbang,” the phenomenon is certainly very Korean, but not traditional, as jimjilbangs only started popping up in Korea in the early 2000s.  The idea of this kind of spa is to not only provide a location for relaxation, beauty treatments, and communal bathing, but to be a place for families and friends to spend many hours socializing.  (This Washington Post article has more details).

When you walk into what appears to be an unassuming office building or retail space, you are handed a set of canvas shorts and T-shirt jumpsuit (orange for ladies, yellow for guys), and directed down a hallway.  You are also given a small key on a wristlet that will later be used to charge further expenses (salon, massages, food, etc.)

The first part of the SpaWorld experience is single sex, beginning with a locker room where you can either change into your jumpsuit or stay naked and head into the pool.  The “bade pool” is a 3-foot deep pool that consists of 10 or so jets designed massage different parts of your body, from the neck to the calves.  Surrounding the bade pool are wet and dry saunas, hot tubs, and public massage/exfoliation tables.  And yes, in this section, you are naked.  I wasn’t taken aback by this, as I had visited a communal bath in Central Asia, but I could see how the experience would be unnerving for the casual spa-goer.  You will find that it doesn’t matter in the least, as there are so many women (or men) that you are very quickly lost in the crowd!

After your bath, put on your jumpsuit and head into the communal “rest room.”  Here, dozens of mats are laid out on the floor as a comfortable spot for families and friends to just hang out (in the jumpsuit of course!)  Magazines in Korean, Russian, English, and other languages I didn’t recognize were strewn about, and people slept, read, typed on their computers (free WiFi!), or just chatted with friends and acquaintences.  The rest room is connected to a snack bar and little cafeteria, with 27 Korean dishes on the menu.

Around the edges of the rest room are about 8 different co-ed and clothed saunas and heat rooms, all with healing and medicinal properties.  Reed mats are on the floors of each, so you can rest in the rooms for as long as you like.  My personal favorite was the red clay ball room, where you can sink into marble-sized clay balls a la those glorious days a Chuck-E-Cheeses (although smaller balls and fewer children).  Also of note is the ice room, where large blocks of ice line the walls—I was told that entering a cold room after so much heat is the best way to end the healing processes that the bathing and sauna experience provide.  SpaWorld also boasts a fitness center (I actually worked out before going into the bade pool!), hair and nail salon, and an arcade, just in case you are in the mood for pinball.

SpaWorld makes me feel as if I have fallen asleep on a round-the-world flight and woken up somewhere hard to believe and foreign, a rare and delightful experience in DC!  While a bit pricey at an entrance fee of $35, the ticket is good for 24 hours.  Go by yourself and bring a book, go with friends and bring a card game, but go to SpaWorld soon and catch some good vibes!

To get there:  13830 Braddock Road, Centreville, VA 2012, 703-815-8959.  A bit of investigation tells me that it could in fact be possible to take the 630, 631, or 632 Fairfax Connector from the Vienna/GMU Metro station, but I would call first.  Automobile wheels are definitely your best bet.

12 Comments

Filed under Activities, Daytripper

12 responses to “Yes, Virginia, There is a Naked Korean Spa in Washington DC

  1. I love Spa World! It’s the perfect place to relax in the wintertime. So strange and wonderful.

  2. Pricey? You can’t get a better deal than this anywhere!

  3. bulandawaaz

    I agree, no better deal anywhere else! totally walk on air when i walk out

  4. the best of the best! Its great to get naked with other guys and be free and unashamed!

  5. KS

    Um, the FIRST step is to wash your body with soap and water, either at the seated bath area or at the shower stalls. I’m disappointed in the writer here for making no mention of this extremely important step in the spa experience. This is a hygiene issue that cannot be overlooked.

    That’s the FIRST step, which–disgustingly–many people skip despite the fact that there is a huge sign on the bathing door that says “YOU MUST BATHE FIRST”. It should be done before you get in the hot tubs, before you go into the sauna rooms and sweat, before you do anything.

    So please, for your own sake and the sake of everyone’s hygiene, go to your locker and get naked FIRST and head STRAIGHT to the bathing area to scrub head to toe (and everything in-between…EVERYTHING), then either stay naked and enjoy the hot tubs and steam room, or go back to your locker and put on your uniform to head out to the common area where the restaurant and hot sauna rooms are.

    Please. WASH YOUR BODY FIRST ABOVE ALL THINGS. This is for the hygiene of all and for cleanliness of the water.

    • KS

      Also, if I may add: The most ideal is to use a Korean scrubbing glove or wash cloth. You can purchase one there for about $3 and it will last you at home for a couple of months. This removes all the dead skin from your body so that you enter the hot tubs and saunas with truly CLEAN SKIN. If you don’t want to buy the cloth, bring your own scrubbing loofah or something similar. Whatever you use, the ideal choice for the spa should be something that will really get the dead skins cells off which you can’t achieve with a standard American washcloth.

      This is not only part of the hygiene issue; it also actually helps your skin to facilitate the detoxing process of the heat, steam, and water as you soak and sweat throughout your time at the spa. When I stay for a full day (8 hours or more) I actually bathe/scrub a second time 4-5 into my time there because after several hours of heat, sweat, and soaking your skin is already going through the cellular turnover process and is ready to have the dead skin cells scrubbed off again. If you do this (one first good scrub and then ideally a second scrub several hours in or right before you leave for the day) you will see your skin is literally shining and bright, and as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

  6. Chichi

    I will give this place a try, but My question is how often do the “naked” pool, and other common places get cleaned?

    • KathyY

      I don’t know about the pool itself but it seems that they are constantly cleaning everywhere. It certainly is a very clean place.

  7. I saw a coupon for this on either Living Social or Groupon.

  8. chris ferguson

    ARE THE NAKED WOMEN AND NAKED MEN IN THE SAME ROOM TOGETHER ?

    • K

      No, they absolutely are not. There is a mixed-gender section (where the saunas and restaurants are) but everyone must wear the shirt/shorts uniform that is given to you when you enter the lobby.

      BTW, in Russian spas everyone is naked together!! I went to my first one a few weeks ago in San Francisco. It took my brain a few minutes to adjust but then I was okay with it. You really do adjust. I had to adjust just to being naked with women only when I started going to Korean and Japanese spas.

  9. I went to SPAWORLD last June. It was great. They young lady at the checkin desk asked if I minded being nude. I said no , and she took my debit card and checked me in. I went to the men;s locker room for the men;s spa. We had lockers and a key we wore around our wrists. I walked into the men’s spa area and showered. There were about six naked guys there. Nobody stared or cared about the other naked guys. There were the badepools, which hot water jets for each part of the body. I made the rounds there, and finally went to a heated tile floor and took a nap for a couple of hours. It was great. I went back and showered and went to the locker room, and put on the unisex shirt and shorts. I went to the common area which was gender mixed and everybody was dressed. No nudty allowed there. I had a nice cup of green tea and relaxed. I went to the charcoal room, which was heated to about 112 degrees. It was the coolest of the heated rooms. It was great. 15 minutes was all I could take. I left and went back to the men’s spa and got naked again. There were a few more guys there, and we just ignored each other. The Korean attendants would make their rounds to make sure no sexual activity was taking place.
    The spa, locker rooms and everything was very clean. I recommend it highly.

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