Aire Ancient Baths - Time does not exist
Ancient is my word for 2018, (instead of picking a resolution or goal(s), I now choose a word for each year), so as soon as I saw the name Aire Ancient Baths, I knew I had to go.
Aire Ancient Baths focuses on the same idea as the ancient Roman baths, but with a modern twist.
In ancient Roman, the local baths were a place to get clean, relax and, yes, socialize (business deals were made, people caught up on social affairs). They were very popular because the Romans were taxed based on the size of the water pipe coming into their homes. Therefore, a bath was not something they did very often.
While Aire Ancient Baths doesn’t focus on using the baths as a chance for personal hygiene, they do focus on relaxation, utilizing the same idea of different temperature pools, massage and steam rooms.
Always located in restored historical buildings, Aire Ancient Baths builds the baths under ground – the ancient Roman baths were also built underground since this was the easiest way to supply them with water.
For the Chicago location, it took 2 years (and $10 million), to restore the old Reynolds paint factory from the late 19th century back to its former splendor. I love this concept of restoring old buildings because this highlights the natural brick, stone, exposed beams, and original architecture of the building – plus, it’s beautiful! Building the ancient baths underground also fosters a quiet and very grounding experience, ie closer to the earth.
And while decorating to make things look old may be in vogue, here, everything is old.
+ Sixteenth century stone fountains from Andalucia, Spain can be found throughout the building
+ All the pools are made with marble from Spain or Italy
+ The sliding door to the bathroom in the baths weighs about 1,000 pounds…
…but the modern amenities include:
+ Heated tile floors in the dressing rooms
+ A personal dressing room attendant who offers to spin dry your bathing suit and put it in a plastic bag for your journey back into the “real world”, ie 21st century
+ Neoprene booties to wear throughout the baths so you don’t slip
+ Luxurious robes
+ Fresh, organic cold-pressed juices are also available (very refreshing after exploring the baths)
A simple appointment will allow you 90 minutes to explore the 5 different pools (there is a slight price increase for the weekends which includes Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays). You can add on other experiences such as a 30, 45 or 60 minute massage. There are also other signature experiences such as the wine bath, ancient Argan ritual, four handed experience and more.
The Flotarium is the most popular bath as it has the salt density of the Dead Sea. While the pool is very shallow (barely covers my legs), the density of it makes it easy to put your head on the marble ledge and let your arms and legs go and just f-l-o-a-t.
The indoor/outdoor bath was one of my favorites (it was about 3 degrees outside in Chicago the day I went). This pool is heated to about 100-110 degrees (but changes temperatures depending on the season), so it keeps you nice and warm while the steam is rising off the top. We even saw a few snow flakes fall from the outside roof! You can get to the outside part by swimming under the plexiglass partition or getting out of the pool and walking through the door.
The Tepidarium or warm pool is located at the back of the baths. This was another favorite because it was super quiet and most like a normal pool, ie deep enough to swim underwater. I also loved sitting on the marble ledge that surrounded this entire pool and looking up at the old mirrors, brick and candles on the wall. My mom and I had a guessing game of how many candles were in the place (there are candles everywhere and relaxing music can be heard throughout the baths – even under water).
Aside from the different temperature pools, you can also enjoy the eucalyptus steam room known as the Laconicum.
The Chicago location has two steam rooms. The first one was crazy hot – so warm I couldn’t even stay in there for 30 seconds, so I went into the second eucalyptus steam room, which is kept at a milder temperature. Both have large marble slabs where you can lay and absorb the aromatheraphy of eucalyptus, which is great for the respiratory system and boost immunity. Each steam room also has cold, quick dip pools you can sink into if you need to cool off.
Just before the large hot-tub like bath, there is a platter with a pile of salt. You can use this to scrub your body and then wash off with one of the two large rain shower heads located on either wall.
In ancient Rome, not only were people naked when they went to the baths (here you wear your swimsuit), but after you would go from the tepidarium to the caldarium, a masseur would rub olive oil into your skin and then scrape it off. Similar idea at Aire, but with salt. :)
We did enjoy a 45 minute massage. You do take off your suit and booties for the massage (they warm it up for you before you put it back on), but I did notice that it is just glass and a fringe-like curtain separating your massage room from the others. It’s not weird or uncomfortable - it’s just not a private room like at a regular spa.
It was a fabulous experience and definitely something that’s great to do with a friend, spouse or group of friends, however going by yourself would be super relaxing. You don’t feel rushed with the 90 minutes you have to explore each bath, steam room or salt scrub because after that amount of time, you are ready to dry off and get back into real clothes.
I didn’t like that the pools had chlorine in them (I like saline pools since those have the same composition as the ocean and our bodies (salt and water), however I still considered this a fabulous experience and definitely worth a visit.
Aire Ancient Baths is open 365 days a year, 9am – 9pm (Chicago location).
Weekend rates are higher. Weekends include Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays.
The baths are co-ed.
To make an appointment, you can book online or call. Only a certain number of guests are allowed in the baths at a time so it doesn’t become too crowded.
No cell phones or cameras are allowed in the baths.
What to bring - a swimsuit. Towels, booties, hair dryers, shower gel, robes, etc are available in the dressing rooms.
Locations available in New York City, Chicago and Spain - Barcelona, Sevilla & Almeria. A London location is planned for 2018, Paris and Copenhague are planned for 2019.
Gift certificates are available.