Thursday, December 23, 2010


If you haven't read HELEN OF PASADENA, by Lian Dolan, treat yourself to a sweet truffle of a novel. For many reasons it is a delicious local confection; and one is its reference to a Korean day spa, which echoes our Olympic Spa right here in Koreatown. I just visited the Olympic with two of my daughters to celebrate their December birthdays. Now there is a worthwhile destination.

Olympic Spa caters to LADIES ONLY. This means the only men to be found are the two parking attendants in the locked courtesy lot out back. Prior to your arrival, it is wisest to book reservations and treatments. The online menu displays spa services, including facials, massages, soaks, and assorted combinations. My girls and I opted for PURE BLISS, a 90-minute series of scrubs, masks, massage, and hair treatments. It's reasonable to spend a period of two to three hours at the spa.

My younger girl and I took the Gold and Red Lines to Hollywood & Vine station. Older daughter fetched us from there and we wended our way down Western into K-town. Only the rain and Christmas traffic slowed us, so we didn't quite honor the 30-minutes-early arrival that Olympic suggests. If you haven't been to this spa before, know that once you leave your shoes and belongings in the lockers, it's a concertedly nude place. You are issued a pair of towels and a hospital gown, but for the most part it's jaybird time. Don't fret. It's actually very comfortable, like entering an exclusive club where you never knew you held membership. Shower first: it's required. Then if time permits before your appointment, you can soak in the several large tubs or bask in the saunas.

Each patron is issued a wrist-coil with a number. That number is your ID. When the uniformed employee (in black bra and underpants) calls your number, your treatment begins. Do everything she commands. You will lie on a Burberry-print table like a big baby to be scrubbed, rinsed, manipulated. When she tells you to get up and shower again, go do it. When she tells you to shift or turn, comply quietly. You are an obedient baby filled with the peace that passes all understanding.

After PURE BLISS, the girls and I crossed the room to the heated napping floor. This is a jade-tile stage stocked with cotton coverlets and softer yoga blocks for pillows. It is a murmuring or silence zone where we just stretched out, glowing pinkly in our gowns. We must have rested there for another thirty minutes.

When you feel ready, you dress again for the world, blow dry your hair, and deposit the gowns and towels. Hand the small 15-20% gratuity envelopes to the desk staff as you exit. The parking men retrieve the car, and life as we know it resumes. Birthdays and birthday suits again next year...

Olympic Spa
3915 W. Olympic Blvd. (enter on Norton)
Los Angeles 90019
9 am to 10 pm