Author's note: this is the 4th in a series of jimjilbang (day spas or saunas) worth visiting in Korea.
The Spa in Garden Five (더스파인가든파이브) - one of the newest jimjilbang in Korea, the brand new modern facility delivers everything you'd expect. Constructed as part of the Garden Five behemoth-to-be, this area offers much of the standard stuff in a high-class way.
After paying your way in, find your way into the bath areas on either side of the common area. Everything feels fresh and new - as expected for an area opened quite recently. Trilingual signage is everywhere, which is great if you speak English or Chinese. The counter has everything you might have forgotten at home and then some. The focus seems to be here; it has one of the widest varieties of saunas available, both in terms of themes and temperatures. Don't forget about the wet sauna and dry sauna, although both were too hot for my tastes. Enjoy the view from the 10th floor if you like - you can see out, but others can't see in. Scrub and massage services were also available within the bathing area from 13,000 won and up.
Once you're clean, pass the common area that includes an excellent snack area, a Korean restaurant, and a selection of board games and books (both in Korean). Get a manicure if your nails are calling out to you. Some of the room-temperature resting areas seem small and crowded; they almost play second-fiddle to the other facilities. Massage chairs are available, but incongruously located next to a popular children's play area.
If you're looking to sweat, there are several saunas along the walls in the common areas. Look for a medium temperature Hinoki-style sauna, a hot salt room, and try the medium-hot yellow soil room. You'll find it hard to see everything in a short period of time, and may be pressed for time if you're not around southeastern Seoul.
TIP: When leaving, pay first, then get your shoes. The key that opens your shoe locker won't work until you've paid. Overall, it's quite nice - one of my favorites that I've visited. My only complaint was a lack of uniqueness. Its corporate, high-class style left zero room for anything unique. Perhaps it's simply my preference for more uniqueness - make up your own mind when you visit.
Ratings (out of 5 taeguks):
Ease to arrive:
Worth the visit:
Directions to The Spa in Garden Five: Jangji station, line 8, exit 3. Make a U-turn out of the station, then turn left at the first light. Walk 300 meters, then look left for a large metal sculpture in front of the building's entrance. Take the elevator to the 10th floor and follow the signs. Open 24 hours. Admission: 8,000 won during the day, 10,000 won on nights and weekends. For more information, call (02) 404-2700 or www.spagarden5.co.kr (Korean only).
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