There’s a God Damn Hot Spring at The End of Line 10
I know where you bathed last summer.
Created for Oriental Springs by SmartShanghai
I Go To The Bathhouse To Pull My Life Together
I've been going to bathhouses for ten years. Usually when I’m just on the edge of losing my mind, I find that rooms full of 60 degrees Celsius steam blasting in my face help me sweat out the bad juices and regain my grip on reality. Try it sometime.
The bathhouses around Shanghai all have their pros and cons. Some have annoying robots serving the food (this is bad). Some have sweat lodges showing films like Bad Boys 2 (this is good – movies with lots of explosions are great for reducing mental clutter). I’m always geeked to try new leisure zones, so when SmartShanghai asked me to visit this actual hot springs place somewhere in Hongqiao-Qibao, you already know - your boy Glen was down.
I’ve been twice now and on both trips, Oriental Spring exceeded my expectations. Why? Let’s find out in this soft advertisement!
Technically This is Not A Bathhouse
Let’s get this out of the way, Oriental Spring is not a bathhouse. It’s a pretty-lit hot springs resort. Once upon a time, someone was trying to build a golf course, and they accidentally dug into a hot spring. And then that hot spring found a home in a big red building that used to be owned by Ferrari. Now you can swim and try-to-relax here. That’s The Legend of Oriental Spring.
I say “try-to-relax” because real talk, this is a place to go with a group of friends and chill / party for the whole day. Oriental Spring is the most turnt up bathhouse hot spring I've visited, ever. LEDs. Reggaeton. Free-flow beer (until July 31). Maybe some light trap music? You already know. It’s somewhere between [that bathhouse you’ve probably been to] and [super lit pool with walk-up bar].
You can find quiet areas, but go in with those expectations.
The Hottest of Hot Springs
Fifteen baths. Coffee baths. Red Wine baths. Green Tea baths! And they’re co-ed. Finally, everyone can hang out in the hot tub together, outside, just like in high school. This is a game changer. (Heads up though, there is a big sign that says “Do Not Naked”).
Can We Get Much Hotter?
I went on a Sunday night and a weeknight and tried half the baths. Both times the springs were pretty empty. Personal favorites are the 42 degrees bath and the 27 degrees bath, right next to each other. They're a perfect match. None of the scented baths smelled that strong, though maybe that’s a good thing? There's also a [shallow] fitness pool with two lanes and some charming floating crocodiles and whales [they dead now]. Everything feels pretty safe (except for the LED screen did *slightly* catch on fire on my second visit). Overall, solid construction materials and attention to detail. Really appreciate the use of plastic cups for beer too, cause Glen is NOT down with glass in the pool.
The Locker Rooms, A Review
Nice equipment! Dyson hair dryers. Lotions and shampoos that are worth stealing. A couple of tubs and a big dry sauna that could be hotter to be fair. One point I really appreciate: they have sandals. Yes, sandals. Why don’t all bathhouses and hot springs offer sandals? Sandals protect feet against athlete's foot and all kinds of other nasties. Yes to sandals! No to nastys! Also, the outfits are cute and come in multiple colorways. If I see you rockin one on Halloween, I know where you stole it from.
Getting Lost in The Rest of This Massive Venue
One of the best parts about going to bathhouses is wandering around and finding all the weird corners and stations. The doughnut-shaped Oriental Spring has lots going on in its nooks: a bookstore, dry sauna rooms, pool tables, a huge area for kids, hotboxes to sit in, a little coffee shop with Starbucks coffee, KTV booths. There is definitely enough here to stay entertained for an entire day. Just wish they had DDR. Can we get a DDR machine?
The Sweat Lodges
Thumbs up for the 汗蒸 (sweat lodges). Half of them look futuristic like they’re pulling inspiration from Tron and the others are just good old-fashioned sweat lodges. None have TVs. Instead, they pipe some relaxing New Age music through the speakers and into your cortex. Personal favorite is the room with hot rocks, which was also the hottest. I blacked out and had a dream that I gave birth to a baby with one ear who opened an extremely successful frozen yogurt restaurant.
Are You Not Entertained?
Pool tables. Couches. Carpet! When you get tired of soaking in the pools or you need to run away from your colleagues who keep wrestling in the pool despite being over the age of 30, you can find something to keep you occupied.
There’s a bookstore. It's called TWINLIGHT. Most of the books are in Chinese. A book called “Finance” appears in at least three different spots. Most of the books are shrink wrapped, which is ok because I can’t read. But I can eat ice cream and they do sell ice cream and coffees down at the bookstore. They also have capsule toys and smart toys for tomorrow’s smart kids.
The Food: Exceeding Expectations
I didn’t try the Chinese restaurant, but The Western restaurant is better than it needs to be. The panini and fries is like, five-star-hotel-in-a-second-tier city-room-service level. The beef chuanr is a star. It’s basically steak, though slightly overcooked. The pizza is basically Perry’s caliber mid, though not the worst. The burger is like, ummm, 2017-era SmartShanghai? You could find much worse! Until July 31st, you can pour all the Sol beer you want into 500ml plastic cups (or 3 liter towers, because why not). The waitress on the first night was incredibly friendly and helpful, though my waitress on my second visit seemed to be on a distant planet.
Hey this is a soft ad not a food review. It’s good enough.
The Staff. Summer Camp Vibes
Kind of a camp counselor vibe here at Oriental Spring. Most of the staff seem quite like college-age or just out of college. Overall they’re friendly, though they don’t always give off a vibe of “I care about what is happening here.” The software doesn’t quite match the hardware, if ya feel me. Bringing in a few experienced managers from a good hotel to run the show and maybe drop an occasional beatdown could bring the service level up.
By the way, there are plenty of places for your kids to frolic.
The Massage Was Right!
For 260rmb [of make-believe money, because they paid for it], I got one of the better oil massages I've ever had. My masseuse was strong (and I get blind massages almost every week). I left with some bruises on my back but she definitely fixed a lot of issues caused by my hunched posture and poor sleep habits. Number 22! Will definitely make an appointment with her again next time I'm out here.
What Could Be Better?
The LED screens outside are massive. It would be nice if they showed movies or cartoons instead of the same advertisements for pool parties that already happened. Why do I need to watch an advertisement for a pool party that already happened, when I'm sitting in a pool? Also, really wish they stayed open later than midnight. I really wish I could stay overnight, but apparently they’re working on that.
Bring your own swimsuit. If you take the train, Oriental Spring is almost next to the Hangzhong Lu station on Line 10. You just need to cut through the park, which is also really chill. You can also take bus 911 – the terminal station is just in front of the place. Lots of local restaurants in the area, including some twenty-four hour joints. You can get discounted evening tickets (good for after 4:30pm) for 69rmb on SmartShanghai.
One more Glen Pro Tip: They close at midnight. If you wanna hide here overnight, don’t hide under those hot stones in the pic above - someone will find you. Try something more low-key, like a cardboard box in the staircase.
Would I Go Back?
Absolutely. I would come here with some friends and just kick it all day, hopping from tub to tub, hitting some laps and draft beers, blacking out, playing some pool, singing some classics, and trading crypto while laying in my bed of hot stones.
I would not come here to detox or find my soul after a big weekend. And that's fine. There are other places for that. When I go to those places, I don't wanna see anyone I know. I don't even wanna see myself. But when I go to Oriental Spring, I'm coming to retox and bathe in coffee and wine. It’s Vahalla. It’s 69rmb after 4:30pm. That’s cheaper than a cocktail. That’s cheaper than any pool I can think of that I would actually want to go to. Approved by Glen!