Peel off your winter layers for a few hours of relaxation.
by Nora Maloney
Soaring ceilings, exposed wood beams, and warm candlelit brick are all defining elements of a space in which time does not exist. This space is better known as Aire Ancient Baths and Chicago is now the sixth city lucky enough to have one.
The first Aire officially opened in Sevilla, Spain in 2004 and in just under 15 years the spa has spread to cities around the world, with three new locations opening up in 2018. Chicago is the largest location to date with more than 20,000 square feet, featuring five pools, two steam rooms, and a number of dimly lit treatment rooms that offer a variety of different massages and rituals.
This unique spa experience transports you to the traditional baths of ancient Roman, Greek, and Ottoman civilizations where throngs of city dwellers would go to escape the bustling outdoors. Today, the concept is the same, but halfway around the world it also acts as a welcome respite from Chicago’s harsh winters.
Aire has restored buildings dating back to 1497, and their latest score in Chicago’s River West area, an old factory from late 19th century, still maintains its original bricks, columns, and beams. Perhaps what makes the space feel most authentic, however, are the historical elements transported in from outside the U.S. such as 16th century stone fountains and marble countertops from old country houses in Spain.
Some of the highlights of the Chicago location include the indoor-outdoor bath that allows spa-goers to swim outside the factory walls and enjoy the crisp, snow flurried air, an exfoliation station where salt is piled high for instantly smoother skin, and the flotarium, a large saltwater pool for you to lay back and bob weightless on the water’s surface.
The experience is perfect for couples in search of romantic relaxation, friends looking to unwind after a long week at work, or really anyone looking to clear their head in the sweet silence of the cavernous space.