Spa Castle? Nah Castle.
Go to this web site. Read it over. Sounds dreamy, no? Giant spa, full of beautiful looking saunas, pools, massage therapies and all things relaxing? Yeah, you know you want it. I wanted it too.
What New Yorkess, in the dead of winter, wouldn’t go to Queens on a Sunday afternoon to escape to paradise? Well, caveat emptor, mother bitches. To the surprise of my friend and I, the heralded oasis turned out to be rather more like this. Serenity now? Serenity, no.
First off, it’s a haul. I drove from Manhattan and picked up my pal Meredith in Park Slope. From her place it took us a nearly an hour to charge the Castle. Not terrible, but the web site gave the impression it was closer.
When we finally arrived, the valet was filled up and there was no parking to be had for blocks and blocks. We sucked it up and hoofed it. But upon reaching the moat, we discovered that there was a labyrinthine line just to get in the door.
At the entry point, they took our money and didn’t explain a goddamned thing. They handed us keys, and immediately shunted us into a gigantic locker room swarming with women and girls.
The first thing we came to were mini lockers that were just for shoes. It took me and Meredith a moment to figure it out (we were like – damn how are our winter coats gonna fit in here?).
After we locked our shoes and put the rest of our stuff in the big lockers, we walked over to a table where a woman sized us up and handed us what closely resembled prison garb: bright orange shorts and a pink v neck top (why not a robe?). A particularly spiteful Korean lady looked me over and handed me a size XXL. Thanks a lot, sister. She also handed us toothbrushes. Random!
Once we left the “women only” section near the locker room, we got out to the main floors which were even more crowded. Every age, every nationality, every body size and shape. It was Ellis Island, the spa. Even the small saunas were packed with people — like 20 people cramming in a time. The outdoor jacuzzis seemed kind of cool … until an entire extended family of hairy Baltic types piled in and it began to overflow. By then we got to thinking about stewing in the juices of all those people well, it was time for a shower – stat!
There was even a bossy lady on the loudspeaker yelling shit out throughout the day …”CUSTOMER [insert name] … COME TO FRONT DESK NOW …” And there was a massive food court/concession stand in the middle of the main floor selling hot dogs and beer and all kinds of unhealthy crap which people were eating with abandon.
So, in summary, Spa Castle is good for the entertainment value and an adventure but not all that relaxing. It was very wacky in that wonderful Asian zany way. But then also kind of stressful with all the crowds and overstimulation. The key is go with someone fun (like Meredith), go early and on a weekday if possible to avoid the teeming masses. Otherwise you’ll be asking Calgon to take you away by the end of your visit.