A few weeks ago, Chicago was in the midst of a tundra. The cold was unbearable and all I wanted to do was stay cozy inside my warm apartment. The only reason I left my house at all during those freezing times was to submerge my body in the soothing thermal baths at Aire Ancient Baths.

While the concept originated in Spain, Aire is a full tribute to one of the original purveyors of elegance and luxury – the ancient Romans. When in Rome, an invitation to ones thermal baths was the ultimate form of hospitality.

Even in 2018, our nostalgia for ancient Rome has never ceased. Tucked away in River West, is a passage that leads to a Roman escape. What was once a paint factory, is now an underground oasis.

At 20,0000 sq feet, Chicago’s Aire is the largest location. This is definitely the new spa that is on everyone’s radar.

The Aire Experience

When walking into Aire, one is immediately lulled by the sounds of gentle running streams of water. Elegant candles flicker along the corridor. All one can hear are the faint whispers.

All you need is your swimsuit and paradise awaits.

No crowded baths and no raucous sounds, because only an intimate group of 12 are allowed in at a time.

The Baths

Before your full submersion into tranquility, you are first given a tour of the many thermal baths.

The first pool you’ll sea is the floatarium. Upon first glance you’ll notice everyone floating along the water like Starfish. The water has salt making the bodies more buoyant. Don’t be surprised if you doze off and find yourself floating on by.

Next you’ll see the signature Aire pool the indoor/outdoor. It allows one to escape the Roman palace and venture back into Chicago. How does one do that? Wade along the pool and you’ll find a secret passage way that leads to the outdoors. Close your eyes and submerge yourself and you’ll open your eyes in a new destination.

Once you step out exfoliate your skin with a mountain of pink Himalayan salt. I found myself here more times I can count so definitely take advantage of it. Your body will thank you for the purification.

Step over a few feet and you’ll hear about a 1,000 jets coming from the Balneum. Water continuously splashes against you and massages you all over. This was another favorite of mine.

For those who are daring, you have your choice of extreme hot or cold. The Caldarium reaches a warm 102 degrees Fahrenheit. As someone who likes to take scalding hot showers I found this to be the most enjoyable.

If the heat is a bit much for you, you can always take a dip in the Frigidarium which sits at a cool 57 degrees. As an observer, I noticed that this wasn’t the most comfortable for many. I was able to stay in for 10 seconds before I got out of there. Oh, the things I do for the blog 🙂

For a less drastic way to cool down, one can always grab a cold glass of tea which awaits on the edge of largest pool.

While all the pools are enjoyable, for those who want the temperature just right, you’ll enjoy the Tepidarium which is perfectly suited at 97 degrees.


More than a Bathhouse

If one wants to dry off, one can always lay around on the heated brick. Or, one can let out a sweat in one of the steam rooms. Again, if the temperature gets a little too hot, take a quick dip into the cool water pool.

While the baths certainly provide enough tranquility, at Aire one can indulge in a multitude of beauty services including an array of massages and body treatments.

The wine ritual in particular piques my fancy. Tucked away in a secluded room your wine ritual awaits. The tub will fill with non-alcoholic wine. As it fills, you are fed an array of cheeses and grapes. While you become well nourished, your body will thank you for treating it to antioxidant properties of the Tempranillo grapes.

For those of you wondering if you get sticky, you don’t. The wine simply feels like water and rinses off like such. If anyone wants to treat me to anything, this would be it. It’s about $450 for one person so it’s a little on the splurge side. Go ahead and treat yourself.

The Best Bathhouse in Chicago

I’m going to go ahead and say it, but Aire Ancient Baths is the best bathhouse in Chicago. It is an incredibly luxurious experience that is second to none. You’ll feel as if you just added a stamp to your passport even though you only ventured to River West.

On the lower end it’s $70 – $79 for a thermal bath experience. I feel like that’s a fair price to pay for the elevated luxury you’ll experience.

When you need a little escape from the city, just know that an Ancient Roman paradise isn’t too far away.


Know Before You Go

  • No Nudity – Unlike other bathhouses, there is absolutely no nudity. You’ll need a swimsuit
  • No Photography – I was able to take a few pics for The Chicagolite but keep your phones in the locker room. If you leave them in your robe you run the risk of someone grabbing your robe on accident.  If you do want to snap a pic, I suggest taking a cute selfie in the bathroom.
  • Get Your Hair Wet for the Indoor Outdoor Pool – Be ready to get your hair wet because you’ll definitely want to experience the indoor/outdoor pool. (This is for my black girls lol)
  • Watch the Time – There is a 90 minute time limit. Enjoy yourself but pay attention to the bells so you know when your session has ended.
  • It’s a Bae Getaway – It’ s definitely a bae getaway (lots of couples there when I went) but if you are single don’t let that stop you from going. Just think of it as like really nice me time. You shouldn’t really talk but you can go with some friends but this isn’t a good spot for thoughtful conversation.

Happy to answer any specifics about my experience. I will say that the staff is phenomenal and they made me feel welcome. I had a ton of questions and they were so patient and served as excellent guides throughout my experience. They even recommended which bath I should check out first. That alone makes the experience incredibly worthwhile.

Talk soon!


*Special thanks to Aire Ancient Baths for providing a complimentary experience. All opinions are my own.