The experience I had at Aire Ancient Baths in Tribeca, NYC is far from any I've ever had at a spa (and I've been to my fair share). Believe it or not, I went in purposely uneducated as I wanted to explore and enjoy something new with my fiancé, without having my work hat on. Mission impossible. Not only did I leave after three hours feeling like a new person, but I also gained knowledge and respect for the Roman bathing rituals of the 5th century B.C. After changing into my bathing suit, a robe and slippers that matched with rubber bottoms (they were to be worn at all times), I found myself following a spa attendant down a candlelit staircase into a 16,000 square foot underground cave-like tranquil room full of pools.
The bathing ritual was broken down into three pools, which were broken down into different temperatures. Starting at the "Tepidarium," the warm pool set at 97 degrees, I followed the ritual three times and hopped into the "Caldarium" or hot pool set at 102 degrees and finished with a quick dip in the "Frigidarium," the ice cold pool at held stead 57 degrees.
I was told the change in temperatures was good for the muscles as it released lactic acid build up. As soon as I got out of that cold pool the first time, my body felt like collapsing. After the ritual, I enjoyed an hour relaxation massage.
Perhaps the most serene moment for me at Aire was in the salt water pool after the massage. I waited for others to clear, (there are only 20 people allowed in the baths at a time) and went in alone. I laid there. Floating in the middle of the pool in the dark. Only candlelight flickered around me. For that minute, I was completely liberated.
Aire Ancient Baths, 88 Franklin St. New York, NY 10013, 212.274.3777