Sunday, November 25, 2012

A bit more on AIRE

*sparklingly (
{ Pre-baths check-in — teak wood, silver teapots, amphorae and flickering candles everywhere? Yes, please. | AIRE Ancient Baths in NYC}

From water we came and to water we return.

(I'm not sure if this is actually a saying, or if I just said it for the first time, but anyway, the phrase popped into my head while I floated around the baths and an initial Google search didn't turn up anything so I'm going to go ahead and copyright that).


I am still completely infatuated with AIRE Ancient Baths. So much so that we managed to sneak in a return trip booking jussst before the promotion expired last night. Not only was our trip there yesterday ridiculously relaxing, but it felt like a complete and utter escape from New York (and you know how when you get out of your daily grind you feel a little more wild? Well, mix that with a candlelit, steamy, completely sensual underground grotto and it's like, oh, hello husband, you come here to me).

Ahem, anyway. Back to the actual experience. You walk into a huge lofted lobby (which is what I took a picture of above) and drink some tea while filling out a form. Then through the changing room to leave everything but your bathing suit, the locker sensor that fits around your wrist, a robe and these soft slippers with rubber grippies on the bottom that you have to wear because it's so slippery.

Then (here comes the good part) you descend down an open staircase with lit votives into this otherworldly space filled with 6 pools (three are heated to 97ºF: one is a jacuzzi, one is saltwater, and one is sans bubbles; one is heated to 102ºF; and then there are the two cold hip baths—one a freezing, you've-got-to-be-kidding-me 50ºF while the other is a slightly toastier 57ºF).

All the pools are arranged around a glass-walled steam sauna with a marble slab in the center—upon which I reclined and channeled my inner-Cleopatra while my handmaiden (okay, R) gave me a pre-massage massage. Pure bliss.

On one side of the steam room is a sitting area with teak tables and shiny teapots and carafes of water. On the other side are a few massage rooms—also glass-walled enclosures, this time with gauzy curtains hung inside. Everywhere there are wrought-iron, punch-cut lanterns filled with pillar candles that give off hundreds of dots of bouncing light that reflect across the pools.

I tried them all (except for the psychotically cold 50ºF one because that is just nuts), but spent the most time in the steam room, saltwater pool, and 102ºF pool...with a few very quick dips in the manageable-y cold pool. The saltwater and steam made my skin glow and I still feel woozy from it, but in a good way.

But what tied the entire experience together, and made it a hundred times better, was the sensual, Spanish flamenco-type music that reverberated throughout (which sounds like it would be the exact opposite type of music you'd want in a spa), but it was light and aery and completely mesmerizing. (I found this group station on Pandora that sounds kiiiinda like the music at AIRE, but not exactly. AIRE was a bit more spiritual/ethereal, and less plucky on the harmony front).

+ + +

We opted to take a 45-minute walk there instead of a 15-minute subway ride, and on the walk, R asked me where I would want to give birth if the day ever comes. My immediate response was: Sweden (with the US as a second choice and Italy a distant third).

I think I'd have better luck having the kind of birth I'd want to have (less medication—if any at all, more opportunity to push versus pressured to have a C-section, better opportunity to give birth in water, not shoved out of the hospital the next day—or worse yet, feeling I have to go because it's costing too much) in Sweden than the US and definitely better luck than in Italy.

We were on the topic because R's cousin just had his second child yesterday and I was asking who was in the room, how did she deliver, etc., but it's funny that I shared with him (or, reiterated, because we'd talked about it before) that I'd like to give birth in water just as we were going to immerse ourselves in restorative waters.

After yesterday's experience, I'm even more convinced that not only do I need to do this (way) more often—those Latinos weren't kidding when they said "salus per aquam" (s.p.a), or, "health by water"—but if and when the time comes, I will do whatever it takes to try and have a water birth.

Can't imagine a more lovelier way to bring someone into the world—especially if I can snag some of those giant amphora-turned-candle-holders and whatever CD they play at AIRE.

1 comment :

  1. well... glad we discussed this in detail... now hop to it! ;)


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