Iwoke up with quicksand sinking in the pit of my stomach. It’s Sunday, traditionally one of my most productive days of the week (day of rest, what?), and I’m getting started with depression flooding my system and rendering me pretty useless. This isn’t new or alarming for me. I’ve been diagnosed depressed for several years now, but I’ve felt it clinging to my bones since grade school. Part of nav.ing my life (especially as I’ve gotten older) has been finding natural ways to ease the edge of what can turn into debilitating depression if I let it run rampant in my body.

So instead of wallowing in my sheets (also fair to treat these painful days), I called a dear friend who took me to yoga, and then followed it up with a few hours at Hothouse Spa & Sauna.

Let me hit you with some quick facts about the spa:

  • It’s a spa that includes a dry sauna, steam room, hot tub, cold plunge and relaxation area. Massage therapy is also available if you can sign up before the slots are full.
  • It’s a women-only space (which is glorious for days where I find myself irritable in every way at every moment; let’s leave toxic masculinity out of the equation).
  • You’re completely and totally butt naked (at least, most people are).

As someone whose vivid memories of baby Nadia (the one in elementary school, that is) include really devastating feelings of disgust for my body, that last fact is key to this review. I’ve struggled with body love (or acceptance) for most of my life. But here I was agreeing to bear (bare?) it all on a day I woke up hating myself, all in hopes that I can sweat out the bad vibes and leave them behind. Me muttering to myself upon entry: this better be effing (I used the real word, oops) worth it.

Money Score: Excellent

It’s $18 for entry and use of all things listed above, except for massage, which is an additional charge for a full 12 hours if you want to spend the full day. That’s definitely rad, especially with many “affordable” day spas starting at $40. Keep in mind there are no fancy mud baths or seaweed wraps, or anything like that. But you get to detoxify (naked) in extreme heat and extreme cold (and for the most part, extreme quiet). I’ll spend $18 monthly for that. Protip: Get a 10-session punch card for $150.

Consciousness Score: Excellent

The spa was created to bring affordable spa access to women, so you can understand why it this scores so high. And I had this conversation with another (naked) lady next to me in the hot tub: It frustrates me that things that are so good for your mind and body are typically things that communities who may need it most can’t afford (read: people of color who have undergone hundreds of years of oppression resulting in cycle of poverty, so spas really aren’t on the list of things they can afford, even if their minds and bodies desperately need the relief). We all need a refuge from this loud, violent, busy world wreaking havoc on us, and Hothouse is willing to create a space for ladies (those traditionally nurturing and/or laboring for others, but not taking care of themselves) to find relief. This is probably why I saw many (naked) women of color here. Because this affordable spa slays.

‘All the Feels’ Score: Good

I walked in feeling dreadful, so this is truly a testament to what a spa day could do. In the locker room, I slowly, self-consciously undressed and very quickly wrapped myself in a towel. Fortunately I went with my best friend who loves being naked (can’t make this up), so I was forced (this is the good kind of peer pressure) into shaking feelings of self-doubt and was soon roaming naked from dry sauna to the cold plunge shower to steam room to plunge again…and so on. All of it naked. And a cold plunge is when you stand under a giant shower head, yank on a handle, and ice cold water pours all over you…and you’re naked (and perky, I might add).

But the thing is, everyone around you is also naked. As women, we are either hypersexualized or shamed for our bodies from a young age. So the thought of stripping down and walking into a chamber of judgement made me physically ill. But when you’re surrounded by women of all sizes letting it all hang out because we just want to escape hellish scrutiny (and tax season), every body just looks like a body. It’s really pretty boring, if you think about it. You know, since you’ve already seen yours. (And it’s a small spa so there are only like 13 other naked people at most)

You have the option to wear something (I saw one person in a bathing suit), so if you really can’t stand the thought of nakedness, don’t let that discourage you from getting your much-needed relaxation on. But if you want to challenge yourself, like I did, just be naked and free. It’s liberating having (naked) conversations with strangers. Or spend the entire time in the steam room (but cold plunge after to get the full detox effect); no one can see you’re naked through the steamy haze anyways. Make funny faces or do a little jig, like I did, naked.

Besides the uptight (naked) lady who we encountered in the locker room on our way out who tried to chastise us for checking our phones after the three hours unplugged (don’t use your phone in the spa, but it’s totally chill by your locker, I checked), it was a rejuvenating day. My skin felt incredible, the harsh weight of my depression lifted ever so slightly, and I feel a new level of comfort (dare I say, freedom) in my birthday suit. See you (naked) next month, Hothouse.