September 19, 2013 10:43 PM

Courtesy Aire Ancient Baths

What is it: Aire Ancient Baths in TriBeCa, a water spa designed to resemble ancient Greek and Roman bathhouses

Who tried it: Storm Heitman, Contributor

Why he did it: A recent rain storm totally wrecked my apartment, causing all sorts of leaks, so my relationship with water has been on the rocks. But I wanted to welcome the element back into my life as a source of relaxation and rejuvenation, not stress. Enter: this.

How crazy is it on a scale from one to Kim Kardashian’s blood facial? One. Seriously. This was my first time at a public bath, and while I was initially worried that floating around in small pools with a bunch of strangers might be too intimate and European for my American sensibilities, I shouldn’t have been. I chose the minimum amount of time — 90 minutes for $75 — and my whole time was unbelievably pleasant.

Now, a quick bit of history: At the original Greek and Roman bathhouses, there was this ritualistic progression where the ancient people moved from the warm-water bath to the hot-water bath to the cold-water bath. I, however, did no such thing and decided to try them all in a random order (what can I say, I was born a rebel). And though I ended up liking the warm-water bath best, I really enjoyed trying all of them out.

But the best was yet to come. After I spent an hour in total soaking in the thermal baths, one of the employees brought me into this curtained alcove, where I got a 15-minute massage that left me feeling more relaxed and in tune with myself than I’ve ever felt before. And then, I hit the steam room and got into the lotus position because why not, and I ended up staring out at the ethereal haze of water vapor and wondering if I’d somehow died and gone to heaven.

The verdict: I found the ancient baths extremely relaxing! I loved every second of my time there. So much so, in fact, that when the (loud) bell rang announcing the end of my session, I was so tranced out that I barely heard it. I’ll definitely be going back, if for no reason than to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. And if I’m feeling more adventurous (or a whole lot less frugal) on my return visit, I might even try one of the spa’s pricier deluxe three-hour rituals, which are about $450-$500, but you get to bathe yourself in … wait for it … a tub of red wine. Or champagne. Or olive oil. Yes, please!

–Storm Heitman

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