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L.A. spas where guys unwind

May 09, 2010|By Adam Tschorn, Los Angeles Times

Let's face it. When it comes to a spa visit, men frequently get the short end of the loofah. No amount of salt crystals and elbow grease can scrub away the fact that the spa experience is predominantly tailored to pamper, knead, wax and unwind women.

But there are some local places where guys can comfortably cool their calloused heels, seek out some steam and solitude, and kick back for a few hours without feeling like a square peg in a round hole. Here are a few worth exploration:

Beverly Hot Springs

If the possibilities emanating from naturally heated, mineral-rich waters bubbling up from 2,200 feet below the surface of Los Angeles, a bubbling man-made rock waterfall and the warming sun streaming through a skylight into a hushed grotto just off Beverly Boulevard in East Hollywood don't nudge you toward Nirvana, you'll probably never get there.

In addition to the hot and cold pools, a dry sauna and a relaxation room, the steam room has an additional feature: a bundle of eucalyptus leaves and Chinese herbs sits in front of the steam vent, turning a run-of-the-mill schvitz into a particularly invigorating and restorative experience.

Beverly Hot Springs, 308 N. Oxford Ave. (at 3rd Street), 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, spa entry $30 Monday through Thursday, $40 Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Separate men's and women's facilities are on different floors of the same building.

Wilshire Spa

This hole-in-the-wall spot (the entrance is sandwiched between a Pizzeria Uno and a bar called the Brass Monkey) can be a bit confusing — unless you're fluent in Korean (the language of choice throughout). But if you're looking for a cheap and easy, no-nonsense option for a few hours of relaxation, it's hard to beat a $15 price tag — and a location just off Wilshire Boulevard in Koreatown.

A steamy grotto-like room is the central focus; it's home to a massage table and the entrance to the steam rooms and sauna (with a window that faces a flat-screen TV), and hot and cold pools that push the level of human temperature endurance.

The hidden gem here is a darkened "sleeping room," sequestered away from the main spa area, with a heated jade stone floor, a dozen or so sleeping mats and a noise generator. The space offers a surprisingly soporific, womb-like environment guaranteed to turn a raging insomniac into a slumbering Rip Van Winkle in the blink of an eye.

Wilshire Spa for men 3440 Wilshire Blvd. (at Mariposa), open 24 hours, spa entry $15, after 10 p.m., $20. A separate Wilshire Spa for Women is located nearby at 3442 Wilshire Blvd.

The Gendarmerie

Located in a bungalow barely a scone's throw away from La Conversation Cafe on Doheny Drive in West Hollywood, this spa opened 5 1/2 years ago with a focus on men. Though the clientele is now about 60% men and 40% women, the vibe is unmistakably that of male sanctuary — overstuffed leather chairs, flat-screen TV mounted over the fireplace and the occasional spread of complimentary food and drink that includes lunch on the weekends and Bloody Marys during the Super Bowl.

While use of amenities like the steam room and serene courtyard in the back can't be purchased separately, they come gratis with any of the spa services (which range from $25 for an eyebrow wax or manicure to $195 for a 110-minute chiropractic massage) — along with the right to come back any time in the future and use them again at no additional cost. Owner Topper Schroeder likens it to "joining a club but without having to pay dues." (Although the steam room is barely bigger than a standard shower stall, it boasts several glass bricks that allow in light from the outside and give it a more spacious feel).

The Gendarmerie, 9069 Nemo St., West Hollywood, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday by appointment.

adam.tschorn@latimes.com

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