TRAVEL 9 years ago

5 Spas in Korea to Try

Korea is the capital of beauty, especially when it comes to skin. It’s no joke, you really come to realize how much skincare is a priority for not only women but the men as well! It’s not just the celebrities that have perfect skin, I’ve also noticed that ordinary women in Seoul also have impeccably dewy skin! I guess you could say that this trip was really focused on me discovering what the secret to perfect skin is! From their beauty products and makeup tips to their beauty spas, I wanted to learn it all. But the problem is, if you’re going to Korea as a tourist it’s hard navigate, much less know which spa is the best one to go to! Of course there are a lot of places that are highly recommended to tourists but I wanted the more unique spas for the best experiences. So I’m thankful I have my friend Alicia from Peach and Lily to show me around! Sharing some of my personal experiences and recommendations for the 5 spas in Korea to try!

1. Four Seasons Spa

The Four Seasons Spa is in a newer hotel and the spa just opened up a few weeks ago. This is one of the more luxurious spas and a lot of celebrities are known to come because it’s very private. You get your own room, a private bathroom and shower, which adds a level of comfort and convenience that some spas lack. They offer facials as well as massages, which was much needed because after traveling so much this past month, my shoulders had already begun to tense up again! They only use Fedora products, which is a line that uses 32 botanical extracts, including interesting herbs, in their ampoules. This was an extremely luxurious spa treatment, and the best part was the amazing view of Seoul right outside my window!

2. Shangpree

The Shangpree Spa was one of my favorite spas because they offer such unique treatments. If you guys saw this instagram post, you saw when I did their signature Green Tea modeling/rubber mask! I love that this spa really cares about beauty and your well-being. They focus on everything from facials to overall wellness, like proper circulation! Shangpree is known for their unique techniques and understanding of the body, skin, and how it all ties together to achieve healthy and glowing skin. They used airbags to massage your body to get circulation going. Because I have tension in my shoulders, it trickles down to having tight calves! This spa is more casual in the fact that they have a few beds in a big room where you can get your mask done so it’s great place to go and chat with your friends while getting pampered!

The Korean government has even awarded and dubbed Shangpree as the “model spa” for their intense knowledge of skincare and incredible techniques. Here’s just how high the standards are at Shangpree: a licensed aesthetician with 20 years of experience needs to be re-trained for 3 more years at Shangpree before being allowed to even touch a client’s face. Super excited that I got to come here with my friends Linette and Alicia!

3. Local Bathhouse

One thing that is very popular in Korea are their bathhouses/saunas! Bathhouses can be conveniently found within walking distance in neighborhoods. The entrance fee is usually $3-20 depending on which one you go to, but the average bathhouse is closer $3 for the entrance fee. The typical local bathhouse will include a hot bath and a cold bath (it’s recommended to go back and forth between them for optimized circulation.) Most bathhouses will also have a wet/dry sauna room, shower facilities, and an area to lounge around in and even take naps! You have to be totally naked and it’s really fun to go with your friends. It’s really great because there’s no time limit so you can do a bunch of services for a really affordable price. At the local bathhouse, you can pay an additional fee ($10-40) for a total body scrub down where women rub you down until dead skin and dirt roll off your body like eraser crumbs. You can pay another additional fee ($20-40) on top for a full body massage that also usually includes a scalp massage with sesame seed oil and/or milk, which isn’t that bad for a little pampering! Sadly, I didn’t get to visit a bathhouse on this trip to Korea but it’s definitely something you guys should experience at least once! I used to love going with my girlfriends Linette and Sarah because we’d spend all there day just getting pampered and chatting!

4. Family Facialist

When thinking of facials and spas in Korea I don’t think anyone really thinks of a family facialist, but it’s actually a super easy way to get a facial for around $40 and they are amazing! (Either ask a local or a friend if they know of anyone, or the concierge at your hotel might be able to help!) These family facialists are great because they don’t go off a set “menu” but will try to get to know your skin and tailor treatments accordingly. Also, I adore the vibe at these local places. It’s not stuffy, cold or sterile. I love the homey and coziness of it all, it’s comforting and soothing to me. This could something you schedule when you don’t have immediate plans afterwards because this could take an hour or even three. It requires a chunk of time because you won’t know exactly how long your session will be until you get there. The facialist needs to see your skin first to make sure you get personalized treatments that really address your skin needs so this will be good for when you are staying in Korea for an extended amount of time and want to save a bit of money! (But who says you can’t still treat yourself to an amazing facial?)

5. Lab L in Garosugil Area

And if you’re in Korea for an even longer amount of time, you can get a membership Lab L and facials can be as low as $40! These facials will be more like the ones available in spas over in the U.S.! Treatments last for an hour and there’s usually a set list of options to choose from. There’s still some customization, but nothing like what is provided by the family facialists. It’s very clean, has a fun herbal juice bar, and they use interesting products. They have some celebrity clients, which is a good sign since celebrities are usually more secretive when it comes to skincare, even among the already discerning and skincare-savvy Korean women as a whole. So definitely give this one a try! I think it’s always great to get your skin professionally treated just for a routine maintenance.

There you have it! The 5 spas that you absolutely need to try if you ever find yourself in Korea! I’m currently back in LA now so be sure to follow me on snapchat (@chrisellelim) to see my Chloe bear!


Photography by Karen Rosalie