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Overhead view of a woman's face as she soaks in water
(Patrick Hruby / Los Angeles Times)

10 under-the-radar spas to rejuvenate in hot water in and around L.A.

Our friendship blossomed in hot water. We met at a destination wedding, and while everybody else did shots, we nerded out about the art of public bathing. We discussed the sad reality of the spa experience in the U.S., which is more about isolated, expensive treatments than communal rest. We talked about the fact that spas were gate-kept for the rich, but that one of the best things in life was to get way too hot, then too cold, and then gossip as your circulation went wild.

Instead of never seeing each other again, we both ended up in Los Angeles for work. The city was an exciting spread of food and culture, but the feast of hot water was the hidden delight of L.A. Over the 15 years since that wedding, we’ve spent hundreds of hours in SoCal spas. Sometimes we talk about job woes, sometimes the frustrations of parenting, and sometimes we don’t talk at all. L.A.’s expansive bathing culture has become the landscape not just of a necessary retreat but also, a constant, easy way to meet up, connect and build a friendship around the usual L.A. obstacles of distance and packed schedules.

Southern California has a modern history of “taking the waters” in places like Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Carlsbad and Murrieta. But before immigrant communities brought their own ways of enjoying hot water, the area didn’t have much of a local sense of public bathing. Now one can find examples of the Japanese onsen, Russian banya, Finnish sauna and Korean jimjilbang here. The Korean spa concept has been enmeshed in L.A. life since the early 1990s.

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For many Angelenos, coming together publicly to bathe sans clothing, relaxing in uniform in a coed jimjilbang and experiencing a no-nonsense body scrub has become a familiar — and beloved — ritual. For newbies, spa etiquette can be understandably intimidating. Outdoor shoes need to be removed before entering the changing area, a cleansing rinse taken prior to entering water, and nudity is required except in coed common areas, for which a spa uniform is provided. But once these rules are conquered, bathhouse-style retreats can become an important part of health, wellness and community.


For those unfamiliar, we’re hoping to expand your bathing palate and encourage you to find the closest hot water to you. If you’ve only ventured to the well-known and adored Koreatown hot spots like Wi Spa or the women-only Olympic Spa, we offer this list to help you find something new. Each option offers something different: family-friendly, no-frills, all the frills, themed and perfect for friends or solo.

If you find a favorite, many of these spas offer ticket packages featuring several entrances for a reduced rate. We tend to go in the evening, when the day’s stresses have accumulated, but any time is a nice time to visit.

Always packed in our bag when we visit:

  • italy (Korean scrub mitt)
  • favorite toiletries
  • water bottle
  • electrolytes

The latter two items are key; nothing is worse than a dehydration headache when you should be basking in the glow of rejuvenation. And pro tip: Brush your teeth at the spa! Many provide free toothbrushes, and it will shock you how good it feels to be minty fresh after a sauna.

The spa is one of L.A.’s essential third spaces — that place you can go to that is neither work nor home. We often think of it as an alternative — sometimes more accessible — beach, the place where doing nothing is the actual doing. At the spa, you can hide, read, nap, but also catch up, eat, soak and scroll. In our experience, most folks say yes to meeting up at the spa for a few hours of melting onto a hot floor and lolling from tub to sauna to tub.


From rustic roadside holes in the ground to luxurious Napa Valley retreats, here’s where to take a soak.

Oct. 7, 2022

Instead of endlessly planning how to meet up with your friend, just get thee to hot water. You don’t have to arrive at the same time, you’ll get to relax even if they cancel, and if they show up, you get to do that rarest of things together: Just be.

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Brown stone walls surround a bubbling spa
(Beverly Hot Springs)

Beverly Hot Springs

East Hollywood Day Spa
Beverly Hot Springs is one of L.A.’s original Korean spas and, while it has seen better days, it remains a beloved retreat complete with a tropical waterfall on entry and a faux grotto whirlpool (on the women’s side). What keeps loyal fans coming back is the alkaline water, once bottled and sold as “Wonder Water,” free of chlorine and said to make the skin feel silky and soft. The large list of specialized treatments is another draw.

The women’s spa is compact, making the strict two-hour time limit sensible. However, since the point of being at a spa is relaxation, this is still a bit of a killjoy. We do enjoy the lounge chair setup for reading, chatting, resting or zoning out, something not often seen in a bathing area. According to those in the know, the men’s side is more spacious and plush.

The spa is unique because it’s the only one fed by a natural hot spring in the Los Angeles area. Indigenous people once used the warm waters that would later fill the spa. In 1910, a group digging for oil near Beverly Boulevard and Western Avenue noticed the thermal artesian well. The Beverly Hot Springs Spa facility as we know it today opened as a thermal spa in 1984. Loyal fans came to its aid over the summer when a developer was slated to cap the waters. That plan was canceled in August.

Price: Entry is $45 on weekdays, $50 on the weekends and holidays. Treatments start at $105.
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An oval window hangs above a mirrored tabletop
(Barbara Bishop / Langham Hotel)

Chuan Spa

Pasadena Day Spa
Sneak away to Chuan Spa at the Langham for a day, and enter a glamorous bear cave that is surprisingly accessible. This elegant, tucked-away day spa is perfect for anybody who is weary and in need of a sumptuous retreat full of soft things and good snacks. With a day pass, or any service other than waxing, visitors have full use of the spa, as well as the gym, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

This is a pricier option to soak and steam, but worth it if you enjoy beautifully appointed environs and attention to every detail. The robes are heavy and luxe, sandals are given to match your shoe size, and each shower comes with a private changing alcove and set with chilled lavender-scented washcloths for instant revival. Everything is considered and attended to, including you.

Visit the dream room, where you can nap on a heated waterbed or read from the library of newspapers and magazines offered on the spa’s app. Another lounge has a soothing water feature, dim lights, juice and light snacks. As a day visitor, you have access to fitness classes and the posh hotel grounds. The only restrictions are an extra $20 charge for semiprivate Pilates classes, and no use of the hotel pool. Guests must valet park, which costs spa guests $15. This spa is not kid-friendly, and is best for solo retreats.

Price: A day pass is $100. Treatments start at $135, and reservations can often be made day of, online or by phone.
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A man lies down on a mat next to a woman sitting on a mat.
(Elisa Parhad)

Descanso Gardens Spa

Tujunga Day Spa
This Tujunga spot is the essence of low-key relaxation. Nestled between mountains and strip malls, Descanso Gardens Spa is a quiet classic: incredibly clean, chill and with a loyal customer base from the local Korean and Armenian communities. The wet spa is compact and well designed with the basics. The steam room idles at a gentle warmth so you can lounge and get a sweat going that won’t punish you for standing up. It’s a good metaphor for this local favorite: everything you need without the extremes of temperature, price or buzz.

Upstairs in the coed area is the jimjilbang and a range of sauna rooms, as well as a restaurant. No outside food is allowed, and they’re strict about it. Kids are welcome and will enjoy the array of Korean drinks available for sale, such as grapefruit jelly and banana milk. If you want to bring your laptop one morning and work a little between your steam and bibimbap, you might find you have the jimjilbang to yourself — it gets busy nights and weekends, but weekdays are truly tranquil.

This spa is easy, friendly and delivers on all fronts. Also next door to Monstera Tea House if you need a boba to rehydrate on your way home. There is plenty of free parking.

Price: General admission is $30, treatments start at $50, and entry fee is waived for all services over $100. You can opt to enter for a lower rate ($25) if you skip the jimjilbang and only use the wet spa.
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A woman in a gray robe sits in a yellow chair at a glass table.
(Elisa Parhad)

Gardena Women Sauna

Gardena Day Spa
Though it doesn’t have the square footage of bigger Korean spas, Gardena Women Sauna has everything you need: a homey, comfortable atmosphere, solidly hot water, and several quiet spaces to relax in. One of the original spas in the area, the vibe is unfussy, authentic and friendly. Housed in a strip mall with several other Korean businesses, Gardena Women Sauna feels a little bit like a spa home base for locals, which is sometimes just what you need.

The wet area has two surprises: a saltwater tub that will soothe your aches and pains, and a steam room decked out in a striking mosaic of rose quartz and other semiprecious stones. The place has a true community feel, with regulars giving tips to newcomers with no judgment.

After your soak, head upstairs to the ondol (heated floor) resting area surrounded by several sauna rooms, a kitchen, table and couch. The kitchen is closed, but feel free to bring your own food or order in as you catch up on your Korean soap operas. We recommend ordering from Pizza & Chicken Love Letter next door, which offers Korean pizza (think sweet potato, bulgogi and kimchee for toppings) and fried chicken.

Among the full menu of treatments, Vivien, a massage therapist, comes highly recommended by locals, and you can be among the first to try out the newest in V-steam technology, where you sit with your clothes on ($30 for 50 minutes). Entrance is on the ground floor, with free parking available in the garage below.

Price: Admission is $25. Treatments start at $75.
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A green pagoda with red columns inside a wood-floored room.
(Elisa Parhad)

Irvine Spa

Irvine Day Spa
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to stroll through a traditional Korean village, head to Irvine Spa. You can get a fantastic body scrub and massage, but you can also sweat in a salt room sauna kitted out with fake pumpkins growing on the roof, and garlic and corn hanging from door posts. All the saunas in the jimjilbang are meticulously designed to evoke a sense of whimsical travel, and it is delightful. Also impressive, the palace façade that fills the rest of the coed space has its own special touches, including japsang (ornamental guardian statues) and massive red columns. The entire room is painted as if it is eternally dusk, with street lamps to light your way and ensure that you have left the outside world behind for a few hours.

Be sure to enjoy the Ondol room, a beehive-shaped sauna with a mesmerizing ceiling, as well as the Fire room, a sauna for the truly hearty. The women’s wet spa is light and open, benefiting from the large windows that allow the sun in from the private patio.

Irvine Spa goes beyond, providing a well-designed and immersive experience that is more than hot water and a hot floor. One could definitely consider spending a few hours here if waiting out traffic before heading into L.A., especially with the restaurant’s full menu. The decor is the standout here.

Price: Admission is $35 for adults, $25 for children, with treatments starting at $65. The most popular is the 80-minute Aroma Scrub Massage for $165.
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Mountains are painted on the wall of a room full of wood accents.
(Elisa Parhad)

Riviera Health Spa

Torrance Day Spa
The largest Korean spa in the South Bay, Riviera offers wide-open spaces. At 30,000 square feet, everything feels big here: ample parking, floor-to-ceiling mirrors, a wet spa with an extra-long cold plunge, and an open-plan jimjilbang surrounded by murals of the Korean countryside. Easy and accommodating, with reduced rates for kids, this is a great outing for the entire family.

Even the dining options are big: There’s a smoothie bar, a coffee shop and a full restaurant (closed Tuesdays). For all the space, there’s also a sense of quiet. On the weekday we visited, the wet spa was absolutely tranquil, and the upstairs quietly hummed with small groups chatting on the floor. Our favorite details were the textured pebbled paths lining the heated floor to massage tired feet, and the jade sauna lined with gemstones. The small upstairs patio offers a rare outdoor lounging area.

Popular with locals, Riviera is a must visit if in range. An affordable spa with elevated versions of all the basics, it will have everything you need for a day-long getaway.

Price: Adult entry is $28, and kids ages 6-12 are $18. Treatments start at $75.
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A glowing pink room with decorated walls at Spa Palace
(Elisa Parhad)

Spa Palace

Westlake Day Spa
Spa Palace is a traditional Korean spa that takes the palace theme seriously, offering little bits of royal flair amid a generally sleek exterior: extravagant seating, lurking Egyptian statues and medieval knights, and a lavish Gold Room sauna any royalty would approve of.

The upstairs jimjilbang has a full-service cafeteria that features classic Korean specialties. Our favorites are the hot stone bibimbap, galbi (Korean short rib) and bingsoo (Korean-style shave ice). You can charge your food to your locker key and pay on leaving, so no need to bring your wallet into the coed area. The large, partitioned jimjilbang offers several options for relaxing, including a heated clay ball room and a soothing new wood-paneled Forest Room with automated full-body massage chairs to use for a fee.

On the weekends, there’s more. For a slightly higher entrance fee, you’ll have a robe to don in the jimjilbang area instead of the uniform, and access to the Olympic-size swimming pool and additional hot tub pools in the basement. The scene down here is less Zen, more party, with a poolside bar and unobtrusive disco lights. It’s worth checking out, and the rare coed space where you can gather around water.

The very best part? Morning, noon or night (the spa is open 24 hours, after all), even with a crowd it never feels crowded. This makes Spa Palace a hidden gem among other popular venues at the edge of downtown for some true downtime and relaxation, with a family, a date or on your own.

Price: Entry is $30 Monday through Thursday, $35 Friday though Sunday. Overnight is $45. Treatments start at $50.
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A small pentagonal pool bubbling away
(Tikkun Holistic Spa)

Tikkun Holistic Spa

Santa Monica Day Spa
Underneath the busy streets of Santa Monica you’ll find Tikkun Spa, offering a wonderful L.A. mix of woo-woo, luxury and ease. This boutique spa packs a punch with a quality of services and therapeutic treatments that go beyond the basics, while staying true to a traditional Korean spa experience.

Tikkun garnered both fame (and ridicule) when Goop reported on its V-Steam for women, an ancient vaginal steam therapy. (Men, or those without the V, can enjoy an accompanying A-Steam.) This story has made the spa popular with tourists seeking Goop-approved spa experiences that are approachable. However, the V-steam isn’t the only signature treatment. Locals travel across the city for its range of services that have a more holistic bent than straightforward body scrubs.

This spa is for you if you’re looking for some frills — at Tikkun, you’ll get pampered and can enjoy the Santa Monica scene. A treatment includes time at the spa, which features the usual jacuzzi, steam room and Hwangto Clay Room and Salt Room saunas. However, the latter rooms are equipped with far infrared technology, purported to intensify the health benefits of sauna use with deeply penetrating light and heat.

Free parking for up to 90 minutes is available at the adjacent parking garage at Lot 5 off 4th Street, or it’s a five-minute walk from the downtown Santa Monica Metro station.

Price: A day pass is $50. Treatments start at $75.
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A square Jacuzzi with wooden steps, next to a blue wall with the words Body Scrub on it.
(Elisa Parhad)

V Spa Korean JimJilBang

South Pasadena Day Spa
V Spa Korean JimJilBang quietly opened in November 2019, and still keeps a quiet storefront off South Pasadena’s Fair Oaks Avenue. The two-story facility is set up much the same as any other Korean spa. The changing and locker room opens up to an airy, tiled bathing area where you can wash, soak in the above-ground Jacuzzi and shock yourself in the cold-plunge pool. Upstairs are two sauna rooms and an area for relaxing or snacking on food you’ve brought in. The big difference? This small facility is offered only as a private retreat for up to 12 people, by appointment only.

This is a perfect place for Korean spa newbies who are timid when it comes to public nudity. Here, you can have all the privacy you want and select the folks you’re bathing with — be it a date or a bachelorette party. You also could rent it out just to have the entire space to yourself.

Appointments — time slots are for two hours — must be made by phone, and if you have trouble getting through (or getting in), the owner also runs Happy Feet Massage a few doors away to the north, where you’ll find the door open during business hours.

Price: For $130 per person, you get one hour for soaking, relaxing in the Himalayan salt room, clay detox room or resting room, and a one-hour treatment. The treatment may include a full hour massage or a mixture of several treatments, such as a body scrub, oil massage, hair wash or facial.
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A felted hat embroidered with "Voda Spa"
(Elisa Parhad)

Voda Spa

West Hollywood Day Spa
Expect an international crowd and a heavier male contingent at Voda Spa, a midsize spa facility off WeHo’s Santa Monica Boulevard. The vibe here is modern and airy with a touch of luxury. The heart of the spa has a large lap pool, Jacuzzi, cold plunge and sauna rooms, which are open to all sexes, so bring your swimsuit. A large lounging area with an adjacent natural juice bar lies just off the pool for relaxing or socializing — a key aspect of the Russian banya experience, after which Voda Spa is modeled.

The focus here is the sauna rooms: a dry banya (the hottest at 240° F), wet banya (200° F) and Finnish sauna (the coolest, at 180° F), plus a eucalyptus-scented steam room. Some patrons bring their own felted banya hat to help keep in the heat; you can buy one at the front desk. Or, pick up your own venik, a bundle of oak leaves used to stir around the heated air. Our suggestion? Sign up for the Platza Treatment — the most popular at the spa — which uses the venik as a traditional therapeutic tool to supposedly improve blood circulation.

Voda Spa was members-only during COVID and its aftermath, and it still retains its social club feel. The in-house cafe and bar are popular with the local Russian and Armenian communities, where a taste of home can be found in the borscht (beet soup), pelmeni (dumplings), fish platters and sides of krivetki (shrimp) paired with pints of beer.

Pro-tip: Cool off (or warm up, depending on the season) upstairs at the small but inviting, outdoor patio space.

Price: A day pass is $100. Treatments start at $90.
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