Locals know this city holds endless secrets—tucked around corners, on hidden rooftops, in tiny alleys and cavernous basements—and true New Yorkers pride themselves on knowing a few, hungrily eating up insight on the latest secret discovery revealed.
To sate your appetites today, we introduce you to a hidden world and a blissful urban escape. Aire Ancient Baths is an unforgettable find, lurking in the belly of historic, industrial TriBeCa and recently open to the public.
Were it not for the telltale Moroccan lanterns, you could easily pass by this underground gem on Franklin Street—but let their mystery draw you inside and you will be rewarded lavishly. The lobby boldly mixes exotic Spanish and Moroccan antiques with the uniquely New York context of lofted tin ceilings, exposed brick and refinished wood, setting the stage for the sublime.
A modern locker room, where your specialty slippers and robe await, serves as the ideal, reclaimed marble launch pad for the imminent experience that will transport you far from the clutches of Manhattan and deep into the embrace of total relaxation. Oh yes, it’s definitely that good.
Descending down a candle-lit staircase, a chain of pools, illuminated from beneath, stretch languidly before you, inviting you to linger (and the absence of any clocks encourage the behavior). The series of pools are designed for both relaxed abandon and invigorating rejuvenation. Based on ancient bathing rituals, 4 of the baths have temperatures in a specifically mindful range from body temperature, to hot, to icy cold—each one meant to follow the last.
The experience of easing into a hot bath and then submerging oneself in a quick, cold dip is both meditative and wonderfully energizing. The other baths—a 1,000 jet Jacuzzi-style bath, a floating pool (which has the same pH as the dead sea and is surprisingly healing)—are everything you desire in pure spa goodness, as is the aromatherapy steam room, which sits enclosed in glass in the center of the space, like a lazy, tropical cloud.
When you need a break from relaxing in the pools, a heated marble reclining area offers fresh juices, pressed to order, and aromatic teas. If you desire a deeper experience, choose from the impressive list of spa treatments. Our favorite hands-down (excuse the pun) was the 4-handed massage, which incorporates 2 massage therapists working in synchronized movement, creating an out-of-this-world experience that everyone should be so lucky to try at least once. Aire Ancient Baths is one of only a small handful of New York spas that offer this treatment, which makes it all the more of an incredible discovery.
And something we will gladly let you take credit for when you introduce your friends.
– Ava Fedorov
Photographs courtesy of Aire Ancient Baths