AIRE (pronounced Ai-Re) is a unique experience that invites guests on a journey of sensations, with signature ancient thermal baths inspired by Roman and Greek tradition. This magical oasis offers spa add-ons like massages, fresh fruit juice, showers, and other amenities. For my birthday, I was gifted the Ancient Thermal Bath & 45' Relaxing Massage with a fresh fruit juice of my choice (I went with a delicious mango turmeric juice). Long story short: if this sounds kind of bougie yet relaxing, that’s because it IS! Does AIRE pique your interest? You’ve come to the right place to learn more.
AIRE’s location is somewhat secluded near the West Loop with minimal street parking, so I’m glad I prepaid for their valet service (highly recommended). The main entrance is tucked in an alleyway, giving it an exclusive vibe. From the moment you enter the foyer, you will be swept away.
After I checked in with the hostess, I sat patiently in the waiting area until it was time to be escorted to the back. The meditation music floating through the lobby immediately created an ambience of serenity and peace. There’s also complimentary fruit-infused water and mint teas you can enjoy at your leisure while you hang out.
First, I was given a tour of the locker room area, which consists of private changing rooms, showers and several amenities for use like shampoo, body wash, etc. You will be led to your private locker that has your robe and non-slip water slippers that must be worn at all times while walking the grounds (for sanitary reasons). Once I was all changed into my swimsuit—yes, you have to wear one—the attendant took me downstairs to the baths.
I was immediately in awe! The magical ambiance hit me as soon as I began my descent downstairs. The dim lights, flickering candles, exposed brick, wooden beams and rushing water sounds all worked together to seduce my senses.
After taking in the atmosphere, the attendant gave me a tour of the space and explained the rules. AIRE has a strict no cameras or phones policy, in addition to a whisper-only policy. The content creator in me hated this—especially after I saw what the place looked like. But instead, I used this as an opportunity to just be for once and enjoy my freedom, untethered to what’s going on with the outside world.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Did she go by herself??” You damn right I did! I love me, and quite frankly, I deserved every bit of what I was about to enjoy. Turns out, I was actually the only soloist there, surrounded by couples and friend groups. But honestly, I didn’t feel strange or out of place one bit. As a bonus, they limit the amount of people in the space to ensure it still feels intimate.
After the tour, they led me right to my massage room. The 45 minutes there felt like heaven. I was very pleasantly surprised by the masseuse’s oil—it was hot, but not uncomfortably so. They also take your water slippers and put them in a warmer, so the shoes are nice and toasty when they put them back on your feet post-massage. After all of the kneading, I was quite literally disorientated when I got up from the table… Bliss.
Now, here’s the breakdown.
After your massage, there’s a total of 6 thermal bath areas you can explore:
Caldarium (Hot Bath /102º) - MY FAVORITE!
Frigidarium (Cold Bath / 57º and Ice Bath 50º)
Tepidarium (Warm Bath / 97º)
Balneum (Bath of a Thousand Jets)
Vaporium (Steam Bath)
Flotarium (Salt Bath)
AIRE also has a lavender steam room and eucalyptus steam room, both varying in steam intensity with aromatherapy. There is also a salt exfoliation station where you could slather on as much as your heart desires and scrub away. Every reservation has a two-hour time limit, so you can try each of the areas at your own pace.
If you’ve made it this far and still aren’t convinced to book your reservation at AIRE Ancient Baths Chicago, then I don’t know what else to say. But if you ask me, the curation of the overall experience is givin’ luxe and self-care. And trust me—we all need that.