It is there, a place of calm and tranquility. It exists in New York City. In its grand cavernous underground sanctuary, various thermal and crisp reserves await. Welcome to Aire Ancient Baths. Located in Tribeca, it should be a place of frequent visits, a ritual by design. By 10 AM, this temple of beauty was in full worship with patrons seeking their moment of silence and peace.
In ancient times, water and bathing played a significant role in culture and society. Water symbolized wellness and socialization, being an essential aspect of life for the ancient Greeks and the Romans. Bathing was considered a social event, a liturgy where elaborate banquets are thrown as a gathering to experience the thermal baths for hours on end. Aire Ancient Baths aspire to these ancient bathing ceremonies to reinstate a place of reunion, wellness, retreat, and purification. Channeling that bygone era also shows in their architectural design and setting. Aire sits in a restored historic building at 88 Franklin Street, a textile factory to be exact, built 1883. The original splendor of the authentic bricks, wood beams, and columns are intact. Space also incorporates various historical elements such as stone fountains from the XVI century from Andalucía (Southern Spain), white marble countertops from old country houses in northeastern Spain, in the Costa Brava area, or clay amphoras from Tuscany, Italy.
The full bathing experience and rituals descending into the oasis include the signature Aire thermal bath circuit ranging from hot, cold, warm, cold, ice baths, as well as jet bath, which consists of a Flotarium and steam rooms.
Aire Ancien Baths, Chicago, saltbath (flotarium)
There are six different pools to be exact with various temperature settings. The first pool on the left is Flotarium, Aire’s famed salt bath, which resembles the Dead Sea in Israel where one floats effortlessly, a soul buoying up towards the heavens for the ultimate relaxation where the temperature is 95 degrees. Adjacent to it, there is a dedicated exfoliation station replete with Himalayan Pink Salt for self-application, and an open shower is available for a quick rinse off before declining into any of the pools. There’s a large glass steam room in the center of the floor infused with Eucalyptus that provides relief on the sinus and lungs. Then across the floor, a large heated marble relaxation area is provided where I found myself meditating. Towards the back of the grounds sits a long u-shaped Tepidarium where the water is set at 97 degrees to mirror our body temperature, and I must admit, it is perfection, and starting the bathing ritual there is recommended. Front of it, another large pool called Caldarium is available set at 104 degrees but can go up to 107 degrees, therefore, an advised immersion of ten minutes maximum. Then to cool off like polar bears, two small Frigidarium, one set at 57 degrees, and the other 50 degrees.
And there’s the Wine Bathing room, where the tub gets filled with red wine, literally. But more on that below.
Designed to enhance the core thermal bath experience further, Aire offers an array of various rituals, treatments, massages, and experiences, [click here to see their full menu], I opted for one of the two Signature Experiences, the HimalayanSalt Experience. The other being the Wine Bath Experience, where it involves a red wine soak and a grape seed oil massage. The natural antioxidant that the wine provides rejuvenates the skin, an experience that took Aire two years to perfect. The alcohol is extracted from the wine to avoid drying of the skin but keeping the key nutrient elements fully intact for the skin benefits, and by adding water to the wine elixir prevents any staining. During this ritual, a bottle of red is on the menu, along with cheese and grapes. Then to top off, this decadent adventure concludes with a 60-minute full-body massage with grapeseed oil. Disclaimer: Don’t drink the bathwater!
Himalayan Salt Experience entails an intense but the most relaxing 80-minute ritual that includes an impressive 60-minute full body massage that starts with addressing specific targeted areas of the body in need. Various levels of pressures applied with grapeseed oil and hot Himalayan salt stones vacillating between hands and stones to relieve tension, yielding the most relaxed state of body and mind. My massage therapist was Alex, and her techniques are transcendent. She knew exactly where my tense touchpoints were and enforced the right amount of pressure and time. Perhaps I was in dire need of mitigation, but this hot stone massage alone felt supernatural.