Ancient Bathhouse Rituals Reach NYC
by allison polster
Armando Prados grew up in the south of Spain in a city that once brimmed with hundreds of baths. He became fascinated with them as a part of his history and culture and as a means of relaxing. To revive the time-honored ritual, Prados opened Aire Ancient Baths, a grand Tribeca outpost in a historic building dating back to 1883 that was once a textile factory. The first of Prados’s baths outside of Spain, Aire utilizes elements of the building’s original structure such as the wood-beam ceiling and the prominent columns throughout. “It was very important to us to find a location that has some magic and some history because the surrounding is what helps us to transport people,” explains Prados.
The true magic lies through the lobby and down the stairs, where the air is warm, the light is dim, and the pools glow—their light blue a contrast to the original exposed-brick walls and warm lanterns and candles. Temperature pools soothe, while Spanish guitar and Sufi music play under the water of the salt pool, allowing total calm for those who are floating. The aromatherapy steam room, jet bath, relaxation room, and massage rooms also bring tranquility to the enormous underground retreat.
Upstairs, in a private spa, Aire offers its most exclusive treatments: three-and-a-half-hour hour rituals featuring soaks in red wine, olive oil, Champagne, citrus, or milk and massages with pressure points, hot candle wax, and other elements of heat. “It’s a very complex massage upstairs,” says Prados, “and then you will go down and have a bath.” 88 Franklin St., 212-274-3777