Chicago’s Korean Day Spa

April 12, 2010 11:36 am

Flying to Asia to explore beauty ideals may be Jessica Simpson’s thing, but you can do it in Chicago, too.

We spent the better part of this past Saturday tucked away in the unassuming, far-flung Korean day spa, Paradise Sauna. At the urging of our friend Adryanna, who had visited a Korean spa while in, well, Korea, the three of us made our way (El, bus, walk a block) to Albany Park. That’s not to say it took much prodding to get us to go; it’s gotten warmer and everyone’s showing more skin, so it was a logical time to give ours some attention. Plus, who isn’t down for some pampering now and then?

“Pampering,” however, isn’t quite the service Paradise Sauna aiming to provide, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While it is a spa with complimentary towels and robes, and facilities like a nap room, it’s more about getting down to business and whipping your skin into shape at a modest price. A day’s use of the steam saunas, whirlpools and cold and hot tubs are included in the $18 base price (plus a $2 key deposit), and services include scrubs and massages, which start at $30 and $40, respectively, for 30 minutes.

Paradise Sauna, on an unassuming stretch of Montrose Avenue.Tara, ready for action.The nap room gets more use than you'd think.All signs are bilingual.Lotions, Q-Tips and soaps are available for spa-goers.

Paradise Sauna, on an unassuming stretch of Montrose Avenue.


Tara, ready for action.


The nap room gets more use than you'd think.


All signs are bilingual.


Lotions, Q-Tips and soaps are available for spa-goers.

The scrub is a must, and for both of us, it was a first. We each took turns lying on a table in the bathhouse while a very nice but stern, middle-aged Korean woman in a black bra and panties set to work systematically buffing us with what looked like a Brillo pad (of course it wasn’t) on each hand.

For those who have never experienced a Korean body scrub, especially at Paradise Sauna, there are a few things you should know. First, leave your bathing suit at home. This is a bathhouse, after all. (Don’t worry, women’s and men’s facilities are separate.) But do bring flip flops or other waterproof sandals to wear in the pools and on the pool deck. They provide towels and some shampoo at Paradise, but you might want to bring your own.

Before using any facilities, you must shower and thoroughly clean yourself. Before a scrub, sit in the whirlpool for an hour or so, to soften your skin so it’s less painful and more like a massage. The scrubber at Paradise doesn’t speak English, and while it’s not necessary to talk, it’s helpful to know what’s going on. She starts at the feet and works her way up. You’ll start on your back and turn four times: first onto your right side, then onto your stomach, your left side and finally back to a face-up position. The scrubber will let you know when to turn with a brusque “turn!” and tap of the table (or your calf).

We feel like new people, and with a layer of our skin gone, we kind of are. “Once a week!” the scrubber recommends, in order to keep skin healthy and glowing.

This no-frills spa is clean and basic, but like any bathhouse, isn’t for the overly self-conscious. To fully experience the facilities, which you’ll probably share with a handful of other Korean grandmas, middle-aged Caucasian ladies and younger Asian women (all of whom aren’t looking and don’t care, same as you), leave your inhibitions (and your clothes) in the locker room.

Paradise Sauna, 2910 W. Montrose Ave., Chicago. (773) 588-3304.

Tara and Karina for TKGO

Related posts:



Powered by Facebook Comments

This article was written by on Monday, April 12, 2010 at 11:36 am. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed. Tags:


  • Thank you for reminding me a) how direly I need a thorough exfoliation b) that this tops my beauty bucket list and I need to finally try a korean buff blitz ASAP! This is actually the one adventure I really wanted to embark upon during my stint in L.A. last year, as their Koreatown makes N.Y.C.’s look pathetically puny by comparison… I’ll have to take a jaunt to Paradise as a post-midterms treat.

  • How soon can I get into that nap room?! What a great hidden gem!

  • I love this. Almost like I’m back in Seoul.

  • I only wish if Korean Spa can be Coed. It would be amazing experience.

Leave a Reply

The Best Travel Instagrammers

March 15, 2013 0 comments

Here it is… We’ve been Instagramming since April 2011, and we’ve developed pretty strong feelings about our favorite traveling Instagrammers. We like to call this the “starter pack”—follow away!

Continue Reading →

Carnival in Trinidad Party Report

February 22, 2013 2 comments
Carnival in Trinidad Party Report

As promised, my coverage of Carnival in Trinidad continues. Below is my “Just Back From” post I penned for Fodor’s Travel that details the Carnival highlights, from whining, liming and feting to everything in between. Also, you can learn what exactly those Trinidadian English terms mean in the Fodor’s post linked here: Just Back From: Carnival in Trinidad I talked a bit about high-energy, have-to-move-your-body, soca music in the post. In the video below you can hear more of the […]

Continue Reading →

Food Tours and Experiences in Buenos Aires

November 13, 2013 0 comments
Food Tours and Experiences in Buenos Aires

There’s a long-awaited and much-welcomed gastronomic revolution happening in Buenos Aires at present, and locals and visitors alike are winning with dinner, lunch and every other bite. My post for Forbes details some of the best ways to get in on it with tours, a chef’s table event and if you’re in town at the right time, fairs and restaurant weeks. Buenos Aires For Foodies   Once regarded as a land for great steak and not much else when it […]

Continue Reading →

Art Classes for Beginners in NYC

January 6, 2014 2 comments
Art Classes for Beginners in NYC

Drawing and painting is a great wintertime hobby outside the typical hibernation routine, and NYC has a plethora of options. These three are my favorites for their attitude, and their relationship to the city and the art world.

Continue Reading →