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Soaking in AIRE: An oasis of ancient thermal baths in Soho

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Aire Ancient Baths

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Ah, New York City, there’s no place like it when it comes to beauty spas. Where else could you duck out of a snowstorm and into a place that literally feels like another universe? Where soft music, calming aromas, and a multitude of curative, thermal baths await just downstairs.

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If the above description appeals to you, book an appointment at AIRE Ancient Baths New York STAT. Essentially, it’s an adult’s Zen playground, complete with a salt-water soak, a bubbling hot tub, a seriously purifying sauna, and so much more.

When you arrive at this ancient Greek and Roman-inspired sanctuary, you are greeted by a highly professional staff and asked to fill out a quick disclaimer. But even this ho-hum task is made enjoyable by the ambiance of the lobby, with its stunning chandeliers, wall of candles and a beautiful jar of hot tea sitting on the table for you to enjoy.

After that, you’re given a locker for your belongings, as well as an easy-to-use key that wraps around your wrist (and is waterproof, of course), a robe, towel and slippers. When you're changed and ready (the women’s locker room is filled with all the amenities you’ll need), a staff member explains the essential guidelines to you, and you’re informed that a calming a bell will ring once your two hours of playtime is up.

Then, once you walk down two sets of seek, black stairs, what you see is a stunning oasis of pools, bubbling tubs, lounging areas, showers, and saunas. And it’s all yours for the taking, to walk around and swim and dip and sweat wherever, whenever, and for however long you choose (within your two-hour time window, of course.

To be specific, the spa includes the following:

-A long, luxurious warm-water pool, set at 97°.

-A smaller hot-water pool, set a few notches higher at 102°.

-Two tiny cold-water pools, each set at 61° and 47°, which are meant for taking quick dunks right after your hot water soak, leaving you with a major jolt (and it’s a jolt!) of energy that’s supposed to be very good for your circulation and blood pressure.

-A wonderfully bubbly propeller jet-bath, which is powered by a number of different streams, resulting in strong currents that seriously soothe the muscles.

-An amazing steam room, set at 102°, which plays soft, calming music and is lightly scented with eucalyptus, jasmine or peppermint. There are also two sinks with wooden basins which you can use to fill with water and pour on yourself, as needed.

-A salt-water pool, called the"Floatarium," which is set at 95°F and is probably one of the best, most curative of the baths offered. Not only is the salt water great for flushing toxins from your skin (we suggest hitting the sauna right after) it also keeps the body still, resulting in an experience of both physical and mental stillness that is different from the rest of the pools. If you’re want some serious meditation time, this is the bath to hit.

There’s also a lovely marble relaxation area, where you can take a break from your dipping and dunking to hydrate with water or enjoy some tea. There are always attendants available for help (although they blend seamlessly with their surrounding, so you hardly notice they are there until you need one). But if you having a hankering for a fruit smoothie, call someone over and they’ll get it for your ASAP.

In addition to these basics, you can also schedule special massages to work in to your thermal bath experience. Just check out Ancientbathsny.com or call to inquire about a booking.

Finally, the ladies locker room is a great way to end your experience. The showers are strong and contain body oil, shampoo and conditioner. There are sitting stations where you can moisturize your face and body, put on your makeup, and use one of the many blow dryers available. There’s even a handy swimsuit spinner that squeezes the excess water from your suit, so it’s not sopping wet on your return home.

And that, in a nutshell, is the amazing, other-worldly experience waiting for you at AIRE. The worst part of this vacation-grade day spa? Walking out the wooden door and re-entering the snowy winter streets of the New York City.

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