Spa Castle Nude Spa NYC Review

| December 23, 2014 | 1 Comment

Review of Spa Castle – The Korean Nude Spa in Queens NYC

Nude Spa NYC – What’s a nudie to do in the dead of winter in NYC? (Especially since winter seems to begin in November now.)

Options are limited, but one idea is to visit a nude spa for some hydrotherapy that doesn’t require a bathing suit. This is one of the things I usually suggest to nudies visiting NYC from out of town – when we don’t have any events to propose. I wish there were some indoor nudist clubhouse to speak of, but we always have to rent / find our own spaces.

This being NYC, there are quite a few great spas to choose from. The big downside, though, is that all of these spas are gender-segregated when nudity is involved. Anytime it’s coed, a swimsuit, robe or clothing will be required. This is okay if you’re going with a same-sex partner or friend, but annoying if you’re in a coed group.

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Spa Castle a Nude Spa in NYC

The gender separation is the main reason I don’t go to these spas. But recently I got a chance to visit one of the most well-known NYC spas with a group of nudie friends. It’s called Spa Castle and the “castle” part hints at its size. It’s located in College Point, Queens, not too far from Manhattan. Though getting there, without a car, is sort of a pain. The spa has an hourly shuttle bus to bring in people from the nearest subway stop. But a car or taxi is definitely faster and more convenient.

There is good news, though… Spa Castle just opened up a new location in Manhattan at 57th street and Park Ave. It has many of the same facilities as the Queens location, including gender-segregated nude bathing sections. There were a few news stories this fall about the new location because, it seems, the board of a nearby Condo called Ritz Tower wasn’t happy about it. The NY Post published an article about this with the incredibly misleading title, “Ritz Tower suing to block nudist ‘castle.’” A “nudist castle”?! We wish! Don’t taunt us like that, you guys.

Allegedly, the board’s main issue was the nudity, which they said “violates public morals.” This made no sense because the nudity is all private. While I don’t know if I believe this was the real reason, I liked one Gothamist writer’s response to that: “As a practicing member of the public, I don’t recall agreeing to allow my morals to be codified by a group of rich crybabies who refuse to remove their pressed linen trousers to shower.”

Ritz Tower filed a lawsuit against the Galleria Building where the spa was being constructed and attempted to delay their grand opening, but it didn’t work. They’re now open for business.

Maybe the controversy is why their new tour video for the Queens location doesn’t mention the nude areas or nudity at all. Based on this video, it doesn’t exist. However at the same time it seems like Spa Castle has always downplayed the nudity.

As you might guess, Spa Castle is not a nudist place by any sense of the word. It’s a Korean spa that allocates two small, gender-segregated areas for nude bathing, and the rest is textile. If you’re new here, “textile” is nudie-speak for “clothing / swimsuit required.”

At the reception desk, you pay and receive a plastic gadget that you wear like a wristwatch. There’s no digital display; just one number that corresponds to your locker. This device is what you use to open and secure your locker and to pay for all purchases while inside. They’re quite tech-savvy in this way, and I’m sure this system was worth it because it makes it very easy to spend a lot of money in a just few hours. It’s not connected to a credit card, as I would’ve thought. There’s a check-out barrier at the end where they scan your device and bring up your bill. You can then pay with cash or card.

The device can be worn in all the pools and saunas. So basically it’s a super convenient way to carry your money and locker key while naked. All you have to do is leave behind your cell phone. I know what you’re thinking – “Leave my cell phone? What?” Don’t worry, some people still carry their phones around, even sitting with them in the “relaxation” areas where it clearly says “no phones.”

After check-in, you go to your respective locker room where you store your shoes and clothes. There are naked, dressed and semi-dressed women milling about. My friends and I decided to spend some time in the nude-mandatory section of the spa first. Nudity is enforced, and you’ll be asked to leave if you’re in a swimsuit. Here there are around 7 different pools. Four shallow hot tubs in the center, all around 100 degrees; one deeper hot tub with different jets and individual seats; one cold pool and one freezing cold pool. The latter was maybe around 60 degrees. I’m anti-cold-water, so I didn’t try it. Then there’s a wet sauna and a dry sauna. All the saunas and pools have digital displays for the temperature, so you know exactly how hot (or cold) they are.

There are showers, showers and more showers. A few are out in the open right next the pools, and others are semi-separated within a small room. But you’re still showering next to other women. And then there’s the sit-down-and-shower section, with little bathtubs for kids and detachable showerheads. There’s soap, shampoo and conditioner in large jugs on the floor.

It was a diverse group of women (it is NYC), and I liked that women could bring their kids. I’m guessing kids are permitted in the men’s nude section as well, but my male friend said he didn’t see any. Most of the women seemed completely comfortable. We were mostly all strangers to each other, but it still had a communal feel to it. I think women with body image issues could benefit from a spa visit like this, as I’ve argued in “Why women should see other women’s naked bodies.” This is an atmosphere of no judgment or shame. You can come as you are, relax and enjoy yourself. And contrary to what you may think about current pubic hair / body hair trends, there were many unshaved women.

You could easily spend a few hours just in the nude area, but we left to go meet the rest of the group after an hour. The second and third floors are textile and coed. To go upstairs, you first need to pick up your “uniform,” which consists of a pink baggy t-shirt and long shorts. The men get the same in blue. Traditional gender colors.

The second floor has the food court and an array of different saunas. In between the 2nd and 3rd floor is a sleeping room with individual beds, for taking naps. The third floor has a roof deck with outdoor heated pools and a sauna. The outdoor facilities are open year round, so you can sit in a hot pool with snow all around! There’s at least one indoor pool as well. We tried the outdoor pool first. It was a Saturday, so it was pretty crowded and near impossible to get your own jet spot.

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Outdoor Pools at Spa Castle

I was happy to get out of there when a friend suggested we go try the saunas. Here’s where it got uncomfortable, though. Uniforms are required on the second floor, even in the saunas. That meant I had to put clothes on over my wet bathing suit to go downstairs. What’s more uncomfortable than a wet bathing suit? Dry clothes over a wet bathing suit. Despite sitting in a few saunas for some time, my bathing suit took forever to dry, and the clothes became immediately damp.

You could go back down to the locker room and take off the bathing suit, but this means you have to go downstairs and change every time you want to use the pools or saunas. (No changing rooms on the upper floors.) The uniforms are entirely unnecessary for the saunas. It’s just forced “modesty.” This place could be fully nude, and it would make a lot more sense. But this is the Korean tradition.

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Jade Sauna at Spa Castle

The saunas in and of themselves are wonderful though. A few are of the same dome shape, but otherwise they all vary in temperature and / or type. The dome saunas have different interior walls lined with jade stone, gold, mineral salt and others. There are also two infrared saunas and a “color therapy” sauna where you can sit in the halo of different colored lights. Each sauna is supposed to offer a different healing experience, and there’s an information tablet to read about them.

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Infrared Sauna at Spa Castle

There are water coolers on each floor where you can drink out of tiny paper cups of the thinnest paper you can imagine. It’s literally a cup of average printer-paper thickness, but it seems to hold up. I’d brought a reusable water bottle, which would create a lot less garbage, but it’s kind of a bother to carry one around.

Entry is a flat rate of $50 (the Manhattan location is a little more expensive at $65). This gives you access to all the facilities. Your uniform and small towels (hand towels) are included, but everything else is extra. They nickel-and-dime you a little bit, as the saying goes. It’s best to bring your own full-size towel, but you can also rent one for $2. It’s a barefoot facility, but if you want footwear, you have to buy their slippers ($5). Drinks (especially alcoholic) and food are very expensive. Massage services are double the average amount. That’s unfortunate, as a massage could really add to the experience.

Some might say the entry fee is a bit much, but the facilities truly are very nice. The bathing suit and uniform requirements just put a damper (literally) on the experience. Also, with the adherence to the gender binary, what’s a transgender or gender non-conforming person supposed to do? Maybe they just don’t go to such places…

I would go back, as it is still one of the better spas. It’s a great place to hang out with a few friends, chill out and forget about the outside world. I look forward to trying the new Manhattan Spa Castle sometime.

Photos courtesy of http://spacastleusa.com/.

Review of Spa Castle – The Korean Nude Spa in Queens NYC was published by – Young Naturists and Nudists America

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Category: Felicity's Nudist Blog, Social Nudity Blogs

About the Author ()

Author of Felicity's Blog. Co-founder of Young Naturists America. 3rd-generation nudie. Avid reader. Feminist. 70% vegan, 30% vegetarian. When I'm not busy eating, I'm writing about naturism, censorship, topfree equality, body image and other fun topics. I like feedback, so plz leave a comment when you've got something to say!