A week and a half ago, Korea celebrated the Lunar New Year, so we had a five day weekend. Yay! Dave’s supervisor asked me what we were planning on doing and I replied that we weren’t sure since we had been told that most things would be closed for the holiday. After asking me what Dave and I liked to do in our spare time, to which I replied, rock climbing, yoga, reading, writing, art, and cooking, she came up with an ingenious idea. Why don’t we go to a couples spa?!
I immediately said YES! because I didn’t even know couples spas existed. It probably shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did because Korea is filled with goods and services directed solely at couples. For example, if you are in need of showing the world, (while you are sitting on the subway playing games on your cell phone), that the man sitting next to you playing games on his phone is your boyfriend, then pick up some his and her cell phone charms. If you want to make an even louder statement, wear matching outfits or his and her t-shirts. Yes, it’s true, couples have been known to walk around in matching outfits in Korea. On a side note, Korean boyfriends also carry their girlfriends’ purses around for them! A fabulous trend that I really wish would take off in the US.
While Dave and I were teaching our classes, his supervisor found an affordable couples spa for us. Couples spas usually run about 200,000 won per person, which comes out to about 360 USD for two people for two hours. Dave and I were not interested in dishing out that kind of money for a spa trip, but luckily she found us a place that was only 160,000 won ($144) per couple. Not only was it in our price range, but it was also open 24-7 and had spots available during the holiday break. Perfect!
She made reservations for us at the Prada Spa for Wednesday afternoon and translated the directions on the website for us, because unfortunately, Google Translate doesn’t work on their website. She told us to take the subway to Cheongdam Station and walk out of exit 9. Then the directions got a bit vague: walk ten minutes.
Dave and I were concerned about the last part. We could tell from the map that the Prada Spa was on a street paralleling the main drag, but we were concerned that we wouldn’t know when to turn. The subway station was not on the map the website supplied us with, so we took it with us, left ourselves a lot of time to get lost (we had prepaid and didn’t want to lose our money!) and hoped for the best. We only had to ask for help once, and I am proud to say that despite my poor sense of direction, I led us to the Prada Spa with about an hour to spare.
I was getting hungry, so we wandered around in search of a snack/lunch. The streets were dead and almost everything was closed, but just when we were starting to lose hope we stumbled across a cute coffee and pizza shop called Jiyugaoka Hatchome. Now we’ve been told that the best pizza in Seoul can be found at Costco, and I have to strongly disagree. This place had thin crust pizza with fresh basil on it! It was very tasty and we quickly agreed never to eat Costco pizza ever again. I wish I could give some good directions to get to this place, but all I can say is get to Prada Spa and then go downhill to the end of the block, make a left and walk a few blocks, and it will be on your right hand side.
Once satiated, we made our way back to the Prada Spa. We were a little confused as to what to do upon entering. We were in a small room where a couple sat together playing on the computer, oblivious to our presence. There was a glass door that lead to a well lit stairwell. We weren’t sure whether someone was going to come up and get us or if we were supposed to go down. There was a closet filled with shoes and slippers, and right as Dave and I were debating whether we should take off our shoes to go downstairs, a man came up the stairs. He escorted the other couple down the stairs and asked us to wait.
When we made it downstairs into the spa; we were each sent to change into swimsuits and robes they provided, for the first part of our spa experience. Dave wore to-the-knee turquoise swim trunks with white stars on them and I wore small shorts out of the same material and a black tank top. Like I said before, couples like to match. We were both given thin robes to wear over our swimsuits and were taken to a lovely candle lit room with a hot bath filled with rose petals. We had seen a picture of this room on their website, but had thought it was outside because of the black walls and fake trees surrounding the tub. Dave and I enjoyed a relaxing hot bath with sweet red wine and orange slices. It was the longest we had been under warm water in a long time, since the shower in our apartment doesn’t stay hot for very long.
After twenty or thirty minutes, they knocked on our door, which was our cue to change out of our swimsuits, dry off with small hand towels, and change into a different pair of matching blue shorts. We were then taken to a room with two heated massage tables and two masseuses. First we had face, neck and chest massages which were incredible. I spent the first few minutes feeling guilty because my hair was a little greasy and I hadn’t shaved my legs in way too long. I usually don’t have such poor hygiene, but I don’t take showers as often as I usually would because of the aforementioned shower problem.
They covered our faces with hot towels after the face massage and applied face masks before starting on our feet and legs. We then had an abdomen massage, which I had been worried about because I am still a little sensitive from the severe appendicitis I had over a year ago. It wasn’t really painful, but I wouldn’t voluntarily ask for one. Once that was over they removed our masks and we flipped onto our stomachs so they could do the backs of our legs, our arms and our backs. At the end, we sat crosslegged as they put their feet on our backs and pulled our arms behind us to get a good stretch.
Once we had changed back into our clothes, we sat in the lobby sipping on hot tea. At that point we didn’t want to walk all the way back to the subway which we would have to ride for fifty minutes to get home. I wished we could take a taxi home, but neither of us could justify taking a taxi all the way across town when it only cost us around a dollar to get home by subway. We forced ourselves out of the spa and as we left Dave’s masseuse cutely said goodbye and waved about fifteen times. I’m pretty sure he’s the hairiest man she’d ever massaged.
Overall, I highly recommend going to a couples spa if you are a couple and are living in, or vising Korea. If you want to go to the Prada Spa, the easiest thing to do is to ask a Korean friend to help you arrange everything.