One of the things I made sure to do before I left Chicago was visit the new AIRE Ancient Baths that opened not too long ago! (I actually went twice… Once to experience everything firsthand, the second time to quickly shoot the photos you see here before the spa opened in the morning!) I already can’t wait to go back again once I’m home. The entire experience is incredibly relaxing and you should absolutely add it to your Bucket List. Especially as it starts to get cooler, it’s the perfect indoor pampering sesh.
AIRE (pronounced Ai-Re) is hard to find if you don’t know where you’re looking! It’s in West Town on Halsted, just south of Chicago Ave. When you see the logo painted on the brick, turn the corner and find the little alleyway with a leather couch… That’s the entrance! It’s right in the heart of the city, but once you’re inside, you’ll think you’ve been transported to a world far, far away.
There are a bunch of different pools to dip in and out of throughout your time at AIRE… A salt water bath for floating, the bath with jets, the cold plunge, the hot bath, the warm bath, the steam room, the swim-under indoor/outdoor pool with a waterfall, and a sea salt exfoliation area. There are probably a few more I’m missing, too…
You take it all at your own pace! Switch between hot and cold water to rejuvenate your joints and muscles while resting your mind. Phones aren’t allowed (you can leave them in your locker), so it’s a forced (and very much-needed) time of disconnection. If you’re anything like me, it takes a minute or two (or 30) to actually decompress and get comfortable with the art of doing nothing. I didn’t bring a book or anything to read, nor did I see anyone else occupying themselves with anything but their thoughts… The space is truly just meant for being.
The ambiance throughout the space is pretty magical, too… The lights are low, the pools are dimly lit, and you’re surrounded by plenty of candles. It’s incredible!
I also opted for a 30 minute massage, which was the perfect way to unwind! If you have a hard time relaxing when there’s nothing to occupy your thoughts (🙋🏼), I’d highly recommend doing a quick meditation before you go in. And you definitely can’t go wrong with starting your experience off with a massage before you enjoy all of the different baths!
Each reservation lasts for two hours after your selected start time… I did a 9am start on a Tuesday (perks of making my own schedule), and I only saw a handful of other guests enjoying the baths during the 90 minutes I was there. However, I know they do limit the number of reservations each hour so it will always feel like an intimate experience!
Oh and FYI: If you’re not headed home afterwards, there are showers with L’Occitane products and blowdryers in the locker room after you’re done!
It was crazy… Even when you’re outside in this pool, all you hear is the cascading water from the waterfall. You really do forget that you’re in downtown Chicago!
Get the Look…