Aire Ancient Baths, Chicago
First there is the sound of water - the roar of a waterfall, the turmoil of whirlpools and a gentle drip, drip. The scent is of eucalyptus, perfume, mint and salt. The light is low and mostly created by hundreds of candles in glass jars.
Aire Ancient Baths evokes Roman baths in an urban setting. The Chicago bath is located in brick building in River West, probably an old factory. The space has been transformed and offers spacious baths, jacuzzis, saunas, cold pools, a scrubbing station, a salt float pool and a foot soak.
We started in the warm pool as an introduction. This very spacious pool is a comfortable bath-tub temperature. It was about 2-1/2' deep, roughly 35' X 25'. We next went over to the waterfall pool. This indoor/outdoor pool featured an intense cascade of water designed to loosen tight traps. Next was a large jacuzzi pool with very vigorous jets. I liked that this pool was warm, rather than extremely hot. The hottest pool is the "calidum". Next to it is a small very cold plunge pool. Too cold for me!
There are two saunas. One is not quite as hot and is more of a scent and steam experience. The other was very hot and there was a wonderful eucalyptus scent.
My favorite was the float pool. This large pool was loaded with Epsom salts, so it was easy to be buoyant and relax. There is music playing under the water. It was wonderful to just float and gently stretch.
There is a shallow foot spa with flat river rocks and also a mound of exfoliating scrub with a shower. There are hydration stations throughout with water and mint tea. It is easy to find an attendant if you need help or have a question.
This is a magical place! It cost $100 for 90-minutes of time to enjoy the pools. Swim suits are required. There is a changing room, lockers and basic grooming supplies for after the experience. I thought it was well worth the price! I've never experienced anything like this. The ambiance is amazing! The only place I've been comparable in the number of types of pools and experience is Glen Ivy Resort in Corona, CA. It is all indoors, so doesn't have the exotic, Turkish bath feel.
The vibe is calm and contemplative. Most people were in couples, but there were plenty of single individuals and groups of friends. Because the pools are very large, it never felt crowded. We often had a pool or sauna to ourselves.
Cell phones aren't allowed, so I could only take pictures of the exterior and lobby. The photos on the website are the best representation of what to expect.