These NYC spas approach wellness through inclusivity

By Former Agent

“New year, new me” posts, resolution lists and articles on self improvement are circulating everywhere this January. Many of them include trendy buzzwords like “self-care” and talk about putting on face masks, using a meditation app or drinking more water.

There’s a lot more to being healthy and happy than just doing the Instagram-able thing. It takes goal setting, getting outside of your apartment and an approach that works on physical, mental and emotional health. It may feel a little overwhelming to get started, but New York City offers many affordable and welcoming wellness hubs that can get you out of the house and into a peaceful state of mind. Some of these places are even cultivated by diverse communities throughout the city. Here are just a few to explore.

Russian Bath of NY

Care to explore a tradition that Eastern European families have used for generations? Head toward Coney Island and visit the Russian Bath on Neck Road. You’ll find saunas to stay cozy in, massage services, pools to swim around in or just float around in, a smoking atrium, a beer garden and even a hockey-themed cafe. It’s a great place to learn how Russian families in Gravesend spend their spare time, and the bathhouse claims it helps with circulation, softening skin and dealing with sore muscles — so maybe hit this place up after a brutal morning work out or a stressful week.

Spa Castle

Spa Castle is practically a Queens institution and draws on the different cultures found in the city’s most diverse borough. There are a number of services including massages, facials, spa pools, and they have specials and tiered pricing options for those of us on strict budgets. Their traditional Korean body scrub seems perfect for dealing with dry winter skin.

In between swimming, soaking in the pools, lounging and getting treatments, you can try one of several eateries inside of Spa Castle. They offer a juice bar, cocktail bar and café, plus a variety of cuisine-specific restaurants from Korean to Japanese to Italian. Spa Castle is meant to enjoy for an entire day or at least half a day, so don’t rush it!

Hotbox Mobile Sauna

This is one of the more “hipster” options, but it’s also amazingly inclusive. Hotbox Mobile Sauna is a sauna on wheels that parks in different locations around the city. They offer sweat sessions and events catered to queer, trans and non-binary people called Sanctuary Sweat. Right now they are in Ridgewood in partnership with Nowadays, a bar and event space. Sauna-goers get tons of water to stay hydrated, can rent robes, and have access to lounge areas for relaxing between sessions. It’s a relaxing way to start a fun night out!


Koreatown in Manhattan offers many options for affordable massages. Spa32 is one of the highest-rated day spas in the area and it’s perfect for quick back, full body or foot massages. Many of us sit all day or have jobs that mess with our posture — this no-frills spot allows you to get in some relaxation time and work through those aches and pains without having to plan too far ahead (or spend too much money).

What’s your favorite spa or wellness spot? Let us know by tweeting us @nooklyn, reaching out on Facebook, or finding us on Instagram @nooklyn.stories!

Cover photo by Hans Vivek on Unsplash