Friday, October 21, 2016

What to Expect at a Korean Spa

The other week, I was just about at my wit's end. I needed spa day. The physical toll that raising two very active preschoolers takes is astounding, and I just can't keep up some days. My dream is to get a hotel room for a night all to myself, have an in-room massage, room service, and fall asleep watching chic flicks and romantic comedies. A girl can dream...but since this is real life, I need an alternative that is feasible in the four hour babysitter booking I can manage.

I decided to try out King Spa & Sauna in Niles, about 20 minutes from my home. This Korean-inspired spa is unlike any place I have ever been, a little cultural vacation without leaving my area code! King Spa is based upon "jjimjilbang," which are gender-segregated public bathhouses in Korea.

Photo: 10 Best Media

To get there, my navigation took me through an apartment complex alley bordered by a chain link fence. After dark, this looks a little shady. You drive through back roads thinking you must have the wrong location, until you turn the corner and see the sign. It is seriously stashed behind a Home Depot. Don't worry, you're here! And yes, there might be guys in black uniforms hanging outside. It's all good.

Upon arrival, you pay the entrance fee and receive a numbered bracelet. Then you split up according to gender: gentlemen to the left, gals to the right. Make sure to remove your shoes before you enter the locker room- there is a yellow line with a reminder on the floor. 

Tip: Grab a printable coupon here! Entrance is normally $35 per person ($40 to include base rock room, which I don't), and you can get it for $22. Groupon and other discount sites sometimes have deals for around $17 as well.

Grab a uniform at the next desk and sign up for any spa services you want to partake in. The most popular seems to be the Aroma Gold- a 90 minute scrub and massage for $120.

Tip: With specific services, you also get a free admission coupon valid for a return visit!

After you grab your uniform (pink t-shirt and cotton elastic waistband shorts, one size fits all), you can opt to head into the spa area (women only) or the main area (co-ed). Your locker number corresponds to the number on your bracelet, and there is a key attached so you can stash your stuff.

Spa Area

Ok, if you aren't down with being totally nude, this isn't for you. It took me a while to get over the "naked as the day I was born in front of total strangers" thing, but one really looks at each other. And it is all women. So...we all have the same equipment, right? My advice is to just get over it. If you are self-conscious, grab one of the teeny tiny towels and hold it in front of you.

Photo: Yelp
Tip: Tie your hair up, or else the staff will approach you to do so.

When you walk into the spa area, hit the showers. They have soap and shampoo for you to use. There are stand up showers and um...sit down shower booth thingys that you grab a stool to use. After you are squeaky clean, you can hop in one of the hot tubs or sauna room. If you signed up for a scrub, you need to soak for 15 minutes prior and they will call your number when they are ready for you.

Tip: The tip is already included in the massage! No need to add it at the end or bring cash. 

My Aroma Gold treatment was complete with an intense body scrub (like...not sure if I have skin left), aromatherapy head massage, body massage, collagen face mask, hot oil skin treatment, and hair wash/condition. It was crazy...but in a good way. There are a dozen Barbie pink tables lined up, and the women who conduct the treatments wear only black bras and black granny panties. You? You wear nada. These women are a force to be reckoned with. They actually hop up on the table to give a massage. They also periodically throw a massive bucket of warm water on you. Be prepared.

Tip: They provide toothbrushes, hair ties, blow driers, face oil, and towels at a station for you to get ready to face the world again.

Main Area/ Sauna Rooms

The main area, which is co-ed), features a lounge, multiple sauna rooms, a movie theater with leather recliners, an Oxygen room, an Ion room...I can't even list everything. The second floor is basically dedicated to relaxation/naps. A dude was snoring in the Oxygen room or else I would have hung out longer.

Tip: Check out the kiosk in the main lounge as well as the one in the locker room- grab an amazing sheet mask for $4 to use there or take home!

There are separate rooms, such as Charcoal Room, Amethyst Room, Salt Room, Ice Room, and more that each have different healing/purifying capabilities. There are mats and wood head rests in each room, and you lay flat on the ground (no talking!).

Photo: Yelp
Tip: I would bring one of the locker room towels in with me because whew- those mats get a little sweaty. 

The movie theater looked amazing- they were showing a range of films (Gladiator was on when I was there) and the leather lounge chairs were fairly empty. 


Yep, there is a cafe-style restaurant off the main lounge. You order at the counter and use your wristband to pay by passing it over the black pad once on the counter. They have a variety of Korean and American cuisine- from from fried rice to bibimbap to corn dogs, you should be able to find something to try. They also have traditional Korean "sauna style" baked eggs, smoothies, and tea. They don't serve alcohol or allow outside food/beverages to be brought in. If you want water at any time, there are small metal cups that you can grab water from the dispenser near the counter.

Photos: Yelp

What To Bring
  • Credit card
  • Hair tie
  • Reading material
  • Ear plugs to drown out any conversations
  • Music/ear phones 
  • Sports bra for under your uniform, because you will get sweaty
  • An open mind! 
Overall Impression

I took my husband with me the first time around. Not the best idea IMHO- this isn't really a date night kind of place since half of it is single sex only. Also, you can't talk in the sauna rooms or the upstairs, so the only convos you can have are in the main lounge or restaurant. To get the full experience, you need to be comfortable being naked, so this isn't a place where you bring people you don't want seeing you sans clothing. I have had two children at a teaching hospital- lots of people have seen me naked so I'm down with it. I would be cool hanging out with my mom, but I am not planning a preschool Mom's Night Out there, m'kay? I don't want to know if little Sebastian's mom has artful waxing. I can't unsee that. Personally, I like going alone and being able to bring my Kindle, headphones and just be quiet the whole time.

A lot of people ask if it is clean. I say yes. The mats and cushions in the rooms might get a little sweaty, but otherwise it is pristine.

As for the best times to go when it will be least busy, just type "King Spa and Sauna Niles" into Google and check out their "Popular Times" in the column on the right. You can select the day you want to go and scroll to see when historically they aren't as busy.

I say definitely check it out at least once- you might love it! For $22, it is worth a shot.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Oktoberfest at Hofbräuhaus

I think of all the parties my husband and I have thrown, our Oktoberfest wins hands down. We had custom mugs designed, wore authentic German gear, and I even home brewed Oktoberfest beer. Although we don't go all out with a party anymore, we still celebrate this festive fall event.

Photo: Carol Fox & Assoc.

This year, we headed to Hofbräuhaus Chicago in Rosemont for their impressive celebration. Not many people know that this is the same brew house that is in Munich, Germany. This is about as authentic as you can get, and yes- they KNOW how to create an atmosphere where you can't help but jump up on the tables and belt out Ein Prosit!

Photo: Carol Fox & Assoc

Bart and I were fortunate enough to be invited to the media preview of Oktoberfest at Hofbräuhaus, which runs through this weekend. Yes, we dressed up in Leiderhosen and Dirndl, and I donned Heidi-esque braids. Where else can you get away with this?

On the menu is of course, Oktoberfest beer served in the original steins (HEAVY!), and they host a stein holding contest.

In addition to the brews, they serve incredible food. My favorite? The pretzels. I could eat a dozen, served with their custom cream cheese dip.

Photo: Carol Fox & Assoc
They also serve traditional German fare, such as Schnitzel, Sauerbraten, and Apfelstreudel.

 Photo: Carol Fox & Assoc

If you truly want to get in the mood, order shots. You just might get a little surprise after you down the delicious apple shot...they deliver a shot and a spanking, and they don't take it easy!

Head to the final Oktoberfest festivities at Hofbräuhaus Chicago this weekend!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

5 Men's Wardrobe Must Haves

I am shifting the focus to the opposite sex today because they need style tips just as much as women, and there isn't a wealth of information out there for them!

I met up with Souk of Styled. by Souk last night to get the inside scoop on what all stylish gentlemen need in their closet STAT. Yes, these may look basic but they are the building blocks of your wardrobe, the foundation of your fashion. As Souk says, "Fashion is what you buy. Style is who you are."

Men, start your engines and let's bring your personal style into this fashion overhaul!


This isn't your typical Mr. Rogers cozy cable knit deal (Fun Fact: his mom hand-knitted all of cardigans he wore on the show). A cardigan can function as a sweater, a jacket, an extra layer under a jacket, a blazer if cut right and worn open with a collared shirt. There are numerous different style options- shawl collar, buttonless, double breasted...but the classic is the v-neck.

Cashmere Sweater

Why not wool? Why not cotton? Why cashmere? It is all about the feel. Guys, if you want someone to cozy up to you, wear a deliciously cozy, soft and luxe fabric. Wool is often itchy and requires maintenance (pilling!), and cotton can shrink faster than...well, it shrinks. Let's just put it that way. If you want to dip your toe into the cashmere pond, try a low priced version from UNIQLO for under $100. Down for something a little less basic? Nordstrom Rack and Saks off Fifth offer fantastic discounts on warm weather essentials.

As for colors, grab one in a neutral- navy, black, gray, or military/olive green depending upon which looks best for your skin tone.

Dark Denim

Gents, if you want something classic yet classy, go dark. If you are muscular, grab a pair with 3% Lycra so you are able to move. Avoid embellishments or excess distressing. They key to making sure your denim doesn't shrink or lose shape is to wash in cold water and air dry.


The details of an outfit are everything. I swoon when a guy is dressed conservatively, then out peeks a sliver of a spectacular pair of socks. This little detail allows men to express their personality, add a little trendy twist to their attire without being overly loud. Nick'Socks, a new local Chicago luxury brand, is upping the footwear game for the guys. These 100% Egyptian (Mako) cotton socks are thin and breathable, and available in patterns that are eye-catching without being ostentatious. Coordinate a great pattern like those in the Tradizionale (Herringbone) pair with a coordinating (NOT matching) tie and you will take your suit to the next level.

Wearing loafers or sneakers? Ditch the crew socks and grab a pair of Nick'Socks new no-show pairs and let people focus on your foot fashion. These low profile socks feature a rubber backing on the heel so they actually stay put.


Athleisure is just as popular for the men as it is for women! Bring back the skater shoes, the Converse, and update them with new colors, textures and materials. Suede or leather are both excellent alternatives to canvas/nylon. You can grab a great pair for under $100, and with free shipping and returns from Zappos it is easy to shop from home and not spend hours in a store trying to decide.

Want more style advice? There are still tickets left for The Style Session this Thursday! Hosted by my gal pal Souk and with clothing provided by Luxury Garage Sale, Notre, and Nick'Socks, this event will educate, inspire and entertain. Plus, there will be bubbly and a bangin' DJ. And might see someone you know on the runway ;)

Shop the post here:

Men, take your new fashion tips and go conquer the world!! Or at least throw out the dad jeans and Cosby sweaters. Cheers!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission if you make a purchase.