Frisky & Soda
Bangkok has long had a vibrant Japanese expat population, and despite its thriving beauty and wellness industry, the Kingdom of Siam has until now lacked in the exceptional art of onsen bathing. All that has thankfully changed with the recent opening of Thai entrepreneur Smith Mekaroonkamol's extraordinary 70-million baht, 2700 sq m Yunomori Onsen & Spa – Bangkok's very first Nippon-style public baths or sentō.
And boy, does she scrub up well, with a beautifully-crafted and understated palette of neutrals, naturals, wood and bamboo spread over two floors and featuring separate male and female areas, a beauty clinic, spa offering Thai and aromatherapy massage (with trained therapists) and reflexology, plus a Japanese restaurant and cafe, and hot tubs in the outdoor Zen garden.
In the 12 onsen baths (6 for men, 6 for women), where temperatures simmer up to 42 degrees Celsius, the classic rules of Japanese hygiene and bathing are strictly adhered to: all soaps and detergents must be stringently rinsed and removed in the communal washing area before one can enter the soaking baths, after which clients can relax in the natural hot spring waters imported from the southern Thai province of Ranong.
For maximum benefit, Yunomori also generates its own carbonated water for the unique soda spa, where the water is kept a constant 38 degrees, thereby maximising the therapeutic properties of the highly concentrated dissolved carbon dioxide, said to stimulate the metabolism and promote good circulation. For the terribly shy there are disposable knicks, but bear in mind you're likely to be the only one wearing them. Go on, let it all hang out.