So you’re probably wondering what a jjimjilbang is….it is basically the Korean version of a spa. It is a place that offers sauna facilities, but at the Dragon Hill (Seoul’s most famous jjimjibang), they have that and so much more.
Dragon Hill Spa
40-713, Hangangno 3(sam)-ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul (right next to the Ipark Mall)
The Dragon Hill Spa is an all-inclusive health and relaxation complex that is seven-stories high. It can be described as a spa theme park, down to the enormous neon sign out front. Each floor is separated by sex.
B1 Floor: Unisex
1st Floor: Unisex
2nd Floor: Women Only
3rd Floor Women Only
4th Floor: Unisex (Member’s only fitness club)
5th Floor: Men Only
6th Floor: Partially Women Only/Partially Men Only
7th Floor: Unisex
Here is a detailed listing of each level.
After walking in under the neon sign you walk into a lobby and there is an information desk on the right where they show you all of the packages (separated into women only, men only, and unisex). The employees do speak some english, so that is a plus. We opted for the Deluxe Package for Men and Women (90 minutes total), which consisted of admission to the spa, full body sports massage, foot massage, facial mask, and head massage for 100,000 won (about $91). After we selected our package, the hostess took us to the cashier to pay.
We then entered the first locker room area. You had to remove your shoes before entering the locker area and were told to place your shoes into the locker. Everyone walks around barefoot around the entire establishment (I really wish they would have furnished slippers instead and I sure hope that we didn’t bring back a foot fungus….)
Since we opted for the package for men and women, we were escorted around the 1st floor to see all the different areas.
After our tour of the first floor, we were told to go to our respective locker rooms to change. Scott went to the men’s only elevator and headed up to the 5th floor. The hostess took me to the women’s only elevator and we headed up to the 3rd floor, and boy was I in for a surprise. If you have ever been nervous about public speaking and someone told you to just relax and imagine everyone naked, the locker room at a jjimjilbang is definitely the place to practice! As soon as I stepped off the elevator there were completely nude ladies of all ages everywhere!! The hostess pointed to the stairs to the 2nd level and said that’s where I could shower and pointed to the lockers to the right where I should store my clothes. She said I couldn’t wear clothes down to the shower…..so I followed her instructions and put my clothes in the locker and joined the other ladies in my birthday suit. Walking down the steps, I was again surprised to find a room with shower heads lined up against the wall. No curtains, no stalls, nothing! There were also some small stools lined up against the wall where one woman would be sitting and another was scrubbing her vigorously with a scrub brush. Then on the other side there was a small hot tub type area with women lounging in the buff. I quickly showered and headed back to my locker to put on my spa clothes I was given, which consisted of a t-shirt and shorts and headed back to the 1st floor to meet Scott for our massage. There are many signs stating no photos in this area.
We entered the Royal Orchid Spa and were checked in at the front desk (they scanned our wristbands). We were then taken into a room with 6 massage tables. Lucky for Scott the Dragon Hill has massage tables in his size and he fit!
They got us situated (face down first) and went to work. My masseuse started with my neck, went to my back, then legs, then feet. About 30 minutes into the massage we heard a male voice on a loudspeaker, it sounded like a concert was in progress! I asked what it was and they said it was a magic show. There were kids screaming, and Gangnam style playing, it sounded crazy. That part was definitely not great and did not fit into my idea of a relaxing massage. However, I thought my masseuse did a great job, I felt invigorated and relaxed. After the masseuse was done with my backside, she had me turn over and at that point she applied the facial mask and then put a tissue over my eyes. The mask was white in color and very wet and cold and stayed on until the end of the massage. The masseuse then proceeded to work on my legs and feet. One extremely unusual thing was that before she went to my shoulders and neck she started massaging my belly! I felt like she was kneading dough, and it felt very strange (knowing asian people, it’s probably good for digestion or my chi or something LOL). She ended the session with a head massage. Both Scott and I agreed that the massage was very good.
After we left the spa, we hit up the woodburning charcoal kiln (the dry heat felt very good), the steam room (I didn’t like this as there was a very musty smell inside the room), and the salt rock sauna (which was surprisingly hot but relaxing). We then walked around a little just to check out the rest of the facilities and decided to head back upstairs to change and get some dinner elsewhere.
Overall, the massage was great. I am not sure I would go here to just partake of the facilities without a spa treatment. If we decide to frequent this establishment, I will definitely need to work on getting more comfortable in the buff.