The Best Outdoor Spas and Saunas in NYC to Melt Away the Winter Chill

From hot tubs with soaring views to individual saunas and steam rooms al fresco.

SoJo Spa Club
Photo courtesy of SoJo Spa Club

When temperatures plunge and blistering winds whip through NYC, you may expect New Yorkers to hunker down. But New Yorkers are resilient and have found ways to get outside no matter how far the temperature falls, from dining al fresco to hitting the slopes at some of the area’s best mountains and carving up the ice at the city’s skating rinks.

Therefore it comes as no surprise that many hotels and spas have taken their saunas, hot tubs, steam rooms, and other spa setups outdoors this winter so we can fully embrace the season while also enjoying the benefit of some extra COVID-19 precautions. From saunas perched on rooftops so you can enjoy epic views while you schvitz to hot tubs tucked away in secluded backyards, here’s how you can enjoy some rest and relaxation outside this winter.

cityWell

Gowanus

This urban oasis turns a standard Brooklyn backyard into the spa experience of your dreams. The space offers sessions in luxurious hot tubs, individual cedar saunas, rainfall showers, and aromatherapy steam rooms that can be enjoyed in total secluded bliss. And the team also offers treatments like massages, acupuncture, and scrubs in open air under the pergola (weather permitting) or in a heated sauna that was custom built to create the perfect conditions for an extremely restorative massage. To make the space more accessible, cityWell hosts community hours each week where you can book discounted hydrotherapy, sauna, and acupuncture sessions starting at $45.

This ultra-luxe gym chain is known for its amenities. But the Hudson Yards location has one of the best benefits around: outdoor individual saunas with a prime view of the city. The gym’s outdoor space, which sits under the glow of The Vessel, features a 10,000-square-foot pool and sundeck that is outfitted with a couple of individual saunas for the winter where you can crank up the heat and sweat away any signs of winter 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.

Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC
Photo By David Mitchell

Gansevoort Hotel

Meatpacking District

The Gansevoort Hotel’s rooftop pool is always bustling come summertime, but some New Yorkers may not know that the pool is actually open all year for staycationers and tourists alike. In the winter, they crank the heat up to about 95 degrees, so the 45-foot pool is actually more like an oversized hot tub where you can swim some laps or simply take a dip while reveling in the incredible cityscape views. There’s a locker room and showers for your pre- and post-swim needs, and the hotel also provides a pool service menu so you can order light bites and drinks.

Hotbox Mobile Sauna

Governors Island

Originally opened in 2018 as a roving sauna that hosted parties intended to be a safe space for queer, transgender, and nonbinary people, Hotbox Mobile Sauna has put pop-up events on hold due to the ongoing pandemic. But luckily, it’s currently doing a residency on Governors Island where the space can be booked for private events and small groups. In addition to time in the wood-burning sauna, bookings also include access to the pop-up’s ice-cold shower, birch brooms, refreshments like various teas and other beverages, and a heated living room space for relaxing before and after your sweat sesh. Pricing is $150 per hour for up to eight people and can be booked online.

If you haven’t visited Rockaway Beach since those sweltering summer days, now is the perfect time to return. The Rockaway Hotel + Spa, located just one block from the beach, revamped its popular pool area for the winter with three individual cedar barrel saunas, a heated-up pool, and an apres ski-inspired lounge area with teak furniture, sherpa blankets, and warming food and drink specials. If you book a room at the hotel for a seasonal staycation, access to the sauna and Winter Pool House is included. But day passes are available for just $25, and each booking also gets you 10% off at the hotel’s restaurants Margie’s and The Rooftop for refreshments before or after your day of self care.

SoJo Spa Club
Photo courtesy of SoJo Spa Club

SoJo Spa Club

Edgewater

Even though it’s located outside of the five boroughs, this epic outdoor spa is situated just across the river in New Jersey and worth the trek. SoJo Spa Club is a Korean bathhouse that spans four floors and is more like a relaxation amusement park than a standard spa. In addition to the standard scrubs, massages, saunas, and baths you’d find available at a standard bathhouse, the spa offers eight different outdoor baths and spa experiences. An infinity pool with panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline on the rooftop is the spa’s crown jewel, but the space also has options with added benefits 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. A day pass starting at $85 during the week and $100 on weekends grants you access to all the outdoor options, plus the indoor baths, saunas, and other amenities, but treatments must be booked for an additional fee and are subject to availability based on COVID-19 restrictions. Located between the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln Tunnel, SoJo Spa Club is a quick drive from Manhattan and is also accessible via NJ Transit—or you can book a stay in the spa’s adjoining hotel to make it a full-on weekend getaway.

The William Vale Hotel
Photo courtesy of The William Vale

The William Vale

Williamsburg

This Williamsburg hotel’s rooftop hosts soaring views of the city all year round, but the outdoor spaces have been transformed into a proper winter wonderland this year complete with a skating rink, individual heated 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. One-hour sauna sessions are $80 per person, and 90-minute sauna and hot tub sessions are $120 per person.

Liz Provencher is an associate editor at Thrillist.