Lifestyle

Soak Up the Views at These Stunning Outdoor Saunas and Pools in NYC

Self care is the antidote to winter blues.

Photo courtesy of QC NY Spa
Photo courtesy of QC NY Spa
Photo courtesy of QC NY Spa

New Yorkers’ work-hard, play-hard mentality can lead down a slippery slope towards burnout. When fatigue starts to feel a bit too real, self-care is the obvious antidote. R & R in wintertime temps does not necessarily mean staying indoors. Many of the city’s hotels and spas have taken their saunas, hot tubs, steam rooms, and other pampering facilities outdoors, so we can fully embrace the season-minus the teeth chattering. Take in the crisp winter air, while spoiling yourself with these stunning outdoor spas in NYC.

Photo courtesy of Equinox Hudson Yards
Photo courtesy of Equinox Hudson Yards
Photo courtesy of Equinox Hudson Yards

Outdoor Spas in Manhattan

QC NY Spa

Governors Island, Day passes from $98
After taking a potentially frigid ferry ride over to Governors Island, QC Spa greets you with the comfort and warmth of open arms. The island’s impressive spa boasts 20 different wellness experiences including saunas, infrared beds, reflection rooms, and foot baths. After a few indoor treatments, head outside to enjoy one of the two heated, outdoor pools offering panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline, underwater music, and massaging hydroseats. Also, on Tuesdays and Fridays through March 2024, dancers will entertain spa-goers with acrobatic movement and lights alongside the heated pools and reflection rooms.

Equinox Hudson Yards

Hudson Yards, Membership prices vary
This ultra-swanky gym chain is known for its amenities, but the Hudson Yards location has one of the best benefits around-outdoor individual saunas with prime views of the city. The gym’s outdoor space, which sits under the glow of The Vessel, features a 10,000-square-foot heated pool and a sundeck that’s outfitted with a couple of individual saunas for the winter where you can crank up the heat and sweat away any signs of chill you see through the windows. The space is only open to members of the gym and guests at the adjacent Equinox Hotel, but you can always join the gym, tag along with a friend, or book a staycation to check it out.

Gansevoort Hotel

Meatpacking District, Daybed reservations from $200
The Gansevoort Hotel’s rooftop is always bustling come summertime, but the pool is actually open all year for staycationers and tourists alike. In the colder months, the hotel cranks the heat up to about 95 degrees, so the 45-foot pool is actually more like an oversized hot tub where guests can swim some laps or simply take a dip while reveling in the incredible cityscape views. There’s a locker room and showers for any pre- and post-swim needs, and the hotel also provides a pool service menu for ordering light bites and drinks.

Photo courtesy of The Rockaway Hotel and Spa
Photo courtesy of The Rockaway Hotel and Spa
Photo courtesy of The Rockaway Hotel and Spa

Outdoor Spas in Brooklyn

CityWell

Gowanus, Prices vary for treatment and spa packages
This urban oasis transformed a standard Brooklyn backyard into the spa experience of your dreams. CityWell offers luxurious hot tubs, individual cedar saunas, rainfall showers, aromatherapy steam rooms, and a recently added cold plunge that can be enjoyed in total secluded bliss. Visitors can also book treatments like massages, acupuncture, and scrubs performed in open air under the pergola or a heated sauna that was custom built to create the perfect conditions for an extremely restorative massage. The team also hosts community hours each week where you can book discounted hydrotherapy, sauna, and acupuncture sessions, making it one of the most affordable outdoor spa experiences in the city.

The Rockaway Hotel and Spa

Rockaway Beach, Day passes from $30
Year-round seaside relaxation is the specialty at The Rockaway Hotel and Spa. Located just one block from the beach, its Winter Pool House includes two individual cedar barrel saunas, a heated pool, and an apres-ski-inspired lounge area with teak furniture, sherpa blankets, and food and drink specials. Also, take advantage of new wellness technology like infrared mats, as well as red light face and neck masks. If you book a room at the hotel, access to the Winter Pool House is included, but day passes are also available.

The William Vale

Williamsburg, Hour-long passes from $80
The William Vale’s rooftop boasts soaring views of the city all year round, but the outdoor spaces have been temporarily transformed into a true winter wonderland complete with individual seating areas for enjoying fondue and seasonal cocktails from Westlight and a full alpine spa setup. With four red cedar saunas and a hot tub for plunging, this open-air spa area is perfect for shirking the cold this winter. The space is open Wednesday through Sunday.

Photo courtesy of SoJo Spa Club
Photo courtesy of SoJo Spa Club
Photo courtesy of SoJo Spa Club

Outdoor Spas Beyond the Boroughs

SoJo Spa Club

Edgewater, Daily passes from $100
Although it’s located outside of the five boroughs, this impressive outdoor spa situated just across the river deserves recognition. Spanning four floors, this Korean bathhouse is more like a relaxation amusement park than a standard spa. In addition to the standard scrubs, massages, and saunas, SoJo Spa Club offers eight different outdoor baths and spa experiences. A rooftop infinity pool with panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline is the spa’s crown jewel, but the space also has options like a silk bath with Japanese white ionization technology meant to improve skin elasticity and a carbon-rich bath meant to increase blood oxygen levels and improve circulation.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on¬†Instagram,¬†TikTok,¬†Twitter,¬†Facebook,¬†Pinterest, and¬†YouTube.

Izzy Baskette is the New York City Staff Writer for Thrillist. Talk to her at [email protected] or find her on Instagram.

Liz Provencher is an editor at Thrillist based in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter or see what she eats on Instagram.

Lifestyle

The Best New Bookstores in LA are Curated, Specific, and Personal

Discover a new favorite book, join a book club, and maybe even do some karaoke at the new wave of LA bookshops.

Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby's Bookshop
Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop
Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop

A couple of years ago, the legendary Powell’s Books in Portland released a perfume designed to evoke the smell of a bookstore. The scent has notes of wood, violet, and the lovely and unusually precise word biblichor, the particular aroma of old books. The reality of the scent is what it is-mostly sweet and floral-but more important is the imagery it conjures. The best bookstores are both cozy and mysterious, familiar and surprising, with endless potential for discovery.

Los Angeles has a wealth of independent book sellers, including beloved legacy shops like The Last Bookstore, The Iliad, and Chevalier’s. But a new wave of bookstores has been growing over the last few years, shops that eschew the traditional one-of-everything mindset to focus on specificity, curation, and point of view. There are bookstores with themes, bookstores that double as event spaces, bookstores that reflect their neighbourhoods, bookstores that take inspiration from a specific person-whether that’s the shop owner, a historical figure, or a little bit of both-and so many more.

Like the niche-ification of the internet and the culture at large, these new and new-ish bookstores provide a space to discover books, ideas, and perspectives led by an expert, the kind of things that you may never have found on your own. They can also be a safe harbour for pure nerdiness, a place to dive deep into your favourite category or cause. To help you on your way, we’ve put together a list of some of the best new bookstores in LA, with a focus on curated shops with their own specific perspectives.

Photo courtesy of Octavia's Bookshelf
Photo courtesy of Octavia’s Bookshelf
Photo courtesy of Octavia’s Bookshelf

Octavia’s Bookshelf

Pasadena
Pasadena is a famously book-friendly city, with bookstore royalty in the form of legendary Vroman’s and its own literary alliance. Now it has one of the most exciting new bookstores too. Octavia’s Bookshelf is owner Nikki High’s tribute to the science fiction master Octavia E. Butler, who was a Pasadena native herself. The name of the shop provides a clue into High’s inspiration, titles she imagines Butler would have had on her shelves, with a focus on BIPOC authors. The storefront is small, but the collection is impeccably curated and the space is cozy and welcoming for readers of all backgrounds.

Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop
Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop
Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop

North Figueroa Bookshop

Highland Park
Vertical integration can be a beautiful thing, especially when it allows independent creators more control over their products. The new North Figueroa Bookshop is a shining example of the concept, a storefront built on a collaboration between two publishers, Rare Bird and Unnamed Press. North Fig features titles from those presses, of course, including lots of striking literary fiction and memoir, but it also features a curated collection of other books. They’ve made it a point of emphasis to serve the needs of the local Highland Park, Glassell Park, Cypress Park, and Eagle Rock community-there’s lots of fiction from fellow independent publishers, other general interest titles with a focus on California history and literature, and plenty of Spanish-language books.

Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby's Bookshop
Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop
Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop

Zibby’s Bookshop

Santa Monica
Speaking of vertical integration, there’s another new combined publisher and bookstore on the other side of town. Zibby’s Bookshop is the brainchild of Zibby Owens, Sherri Puzey, and Diana Tramontano, and it’s the physical home of Zibby Books, a literary press that releases one featured book a month. That system is designed so that each book gets the full attention and resources of the press. Owens is an author, podcaster, and book-fluencer, and she has become something of a lit-world mogul with a magazine, podcast network, event business, and an education platform too. The shop has a unique sorting system, built around a feeling for each book-in store many of the shelves are labelled by interest or personality type, like “For the foodie,” or “For the pop culture lover.” On their webshop, you can browse for books that make you cry, escape, laugh, lust, or tremble. There are recommendations from Owens and the staff, sections for local authors, family dramas, and books that have just been optioned. If this all seems a little overwhelming, you should probably avoid the section dedicated to books that make you anxious.

The Salt Eaters Bookshop

Inglewood
Inglewood native Asha Grant opened The Salt Eaters Bookshop in 2021 with a mission in mind-to centre stories with protagonists who are Black girls, women, femme, and/or gender-nonconforming people. Over the last year and change that it’s been open, it has also become a community hub, a place for Inglewood locals and people from across town to drop in, to see what’s new and to discover incredible works in the Black feminist tradition. They also host regular events like readings, discussions, and parties.

Lost Books

Montrose
Thankfully, legendary downtown bookshop The Last Bookstore’s name is hyperbole, and owners Josh and Jenna Spencer have even gone so far as to open a second shop, Lost Books in Montrose. Instead of the technicolour whimsy of the book tunnel at The Last Bookstore, Lost Books has a tunnel of plants that welcomes you into the shop, which opened in the summer of 2021. They sell those plants in addition to books, and coffee and vinyl too, which makes Lost Books a lovely destination and a fun little surprise in the quaint foothill town just off the 2 freeway.

Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe
Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe
Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe

Stories Books & Cafe

Echo Park
Ok, this one is fudging the criteria a little-Stories has been open for almost 15 years. But over those years the shop has become a pillar of Echo Park community life, hosting readings, discussions, and events, and their cafe tables function as a de facto office for about half of the neighbourhood on any given afternoon. After the tragic recent passing of co-owner and Echo Park fixture Alex Maslansky it seemed like the shop’s future was in doubt, but thankfully after a brief hiatus co-owner and co-founder Claudia Colodro and the staff were able to band together to reopen and keep the beloved cafe and bookstore going strong.

Page Against the Machine

Long Beach
The name alone makes it clear what you’re getting at Page Against the Machine-revolutionary progressive books, with a collection centred on activist literature, socially conscious writing, and a whole lot of political history. The shop itself is small but the ideas are grand, with fiction by writers like Richard Wright, Colson Whitehead, and Albert Camus next to zines about gentrification and compendia of mushroom varieties. They also host regular readings and discussions.

Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte
Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte
Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte

Re/Arte Centro Literario

Boyle Heights
Boyle Heights has its own small but mighty combined bookstore, art gallery, gathering space, and small press in Viva Padilla’s Re/Arte. Padilla is a poet, translator, editor, and curator, and as a South Central LA native and the child of Mexican immigrants, she’s focused on Chicanx and Latinx art, literature, and social criticism. Re/Arte’s collection has a wide range of books, from classic Latin American literature to modern essays and everything in between. Re/Arte is also now the headquarters for sin cesar, a literary journal that publishes poetry, fiction, and essays from Black and Brown writers. There are always community-focused events happening too, from regular open mics and zine workshops to film screenings and more.

The Book Jewel

Westchester
Most bookshops host events, but few host them with the regularity of The Book Jewel, the two- year-old independent bookstore in Westchester. Their calendar is so full with readings, several different book clubs, signings, and meet and greets that there are sometimes multiple events on the same day. The shop also hosts a ton of family-focused readings, with regular storytime on Sunday mornings often followed by a talk with the author. It’s a great fit for the relatively low-key (but not exactly quiet) suburban neighbourhood, and it’s no coincidence that storytime lines up with the Westchester Farmers Market, which takes place right out front.

Reparations Club

West Adams
Most bookstores lean into coziness, aiming to be a hideaway for some quiet contemplation or maybe a quick sotto voce chat-not so at Reparations Club, the exuberant and stylish concept bookshop and art space on Jefferson. Owner and founder Jazzi McGilbert and her staff have built a beautiful and vibrant shop full of art from Black artists, including books but also records, candles, incense, clothing, and all sorts of fun things to discover. There’s a perfect seating area to sit and hang out for a while, and they host a range of wild and fun events from readings to happy hours, panel discussions to karaoke nights and more.

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Ben Mesirow is a Staff Writer at Thrillist.

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