One of the things that I love about Toronto is the never-ending pool of things to discover and/or do. With the right amount of research or (even better) word of mouth, there are endless ways to spend your time depending on what you’re after.
Recently a friend invited me along to a sauna after we finished an intense workout at Pursuit OCR (review to come). My body was already feeling the effects of the obstacle course and what better way to unwind than at a sauna? When she told me the location (in the Dufferin and Steeles area) and price ($20) I honestly was not expecting much. I didn’t do any prior research since it was such an impromptu decision, so I thought that we would show up and there’d be one small hot room – that’s it.
I stand corrected – Seoul Zimzilbang – the only Korean-inspired sauna facility in the city – was beyond my expectation. Unsuspectingly located in an industrial area, we were about to experience what it’s like at a traditional Korean sauna and I became stoked.
Upon arrival, the instructions are to remove our shoes and place them in one of the nearby lockers and turn in the key. Once we did that and paid ($20 cash/no tax or $22.60/after tax by credit or debit), we received a second key in the form of an electronic wristband with the same number as the first along with a change of clothes (in a lovely pepto bismol pink) plus 2 hand towels.
Around the corner from the front area was a large change-room where we saw that there were lockers to leave all our personal belongings in the locker with the number matching the wristband. There was also a shower area, which – for obvious reasons – I did not photograph.
A quick trip around the corner revealed a HUGE cafeteria and lounge area complete with pool tables, couches, tv’s, tables and even board games – plus in a corner were some exercise equipment. With silence being the golden rule, you are encouraged to bring along a book or laptop (there’s free WiFi) and just unwind. We even saw people lulled off on the couches, and it was quiet enough to do so.
To the right were massage rooms and at the very end of this area was the sauna area, where we headed.
There are 6 spacious mineral sauna rooms with a Korean and English descriptions outside each door. The rooms were of varying temperatures that started at 38 Celsius and went as high as 120 Celsius. We spent some time in each room, and were so relaxed that we even fell asleep at some points.
When came time to head to the 72 Celsius and 120 Celsius rooms, we were skeptical. We thought for sure it would be WAY too hot for anything that we could ever handle. Surprisingly, and with the benefit of having started in the lower temperature rooms, we were able to spend time comfortably (but not as long) in those rooms.
While the other rooms had been bare, the hotter rooms had rugs laid out plus the 120 Celsius room also had wooden benches since the floor would be too hot to get comfortable. I don’t think we spent more than about 5 – 7 minutes in this room anyway!
The feet also were not forgotten, with textured marble slabs on the floor so that you could move around on them and massage the soles of your feet.
And now for the best part – the ice room. What a wonderful way to complete our experience! Though it was like walking into a freezer, it felt wonderful as our body temperatures started to normalize. It felt just like walking into an air-conditioned room on an unbearably humid summer day.
We had a lovely time at Seoul Zimzilbang and with absolute certainty will be returning. You get more than your $20 worth, along with the options of massages or body scrubs. (We asked and no, the massages are not by RMT’s). It was bright, clean and we didn’t want to leave. We spent well over 2 hours there.
Seoul Zimzilbang is open 24/7 and is located at 382 Magnetic Dr in Toronto, 416-514-1965.