It was the last weekday of my spring break two weeks ago (I’m a little behind on blogging) and I wanted to do something that made me feel like I had actually taken a vacation (something other than tasting wedding cakes, visiting florists and posting tutoring fliers). So I convinced my friend Aditi to splurge on a day at a spa. Although I’ve been to many hot springs both in California and Japan, I’d only been to one day spa with my friend Alina – Nob Hill Spa in San Francisco. Nob Hill is a wonderful oasis with its private claw-foot bathtubs and swimming pool that overlooks the Victorian peaks of the city, but it’s also a bit pricey ($115 and up for a massage, which includes use of the pool, tubs, sauna and steam room for as long as you want.) My friend Meeta mentioned she was going to Piedmont Spa that weekend so we called Piedmont Spa and discovered it was only $65 for a massage. They charged extra for the hottub, but for an hour that still came out to $80 and it was our understanding that we could stay in the steamroom (and lounge on the beds reading magazines and sipping tea, etc.) for as long as we wanted. So with tip we’d spend just under $100 – my kind of day spa. So we booked it with my credit card and got there to discover that we did not have an appointment at Piedmont Spa, but at Piedmont Springs, so we dashed between the raindrops across the street. Inside, we were greeted by two unfriendly women at the front desk women who took our money and handed up basket with thin cotton bathrobes. After of them escorted us to a private hot tub, we asked where the changing rooms were. “Here” she said. The hot tub had a shower head and drain next to it and we were supposed to just change and shower right there without a locker room or a sink or slippers … oh, and the best part was that there was no roof, so it was sprinkling on our hot tub. So we change and get into the tub, trying to stay toward the end that was slightly covered by a roof. There was no hot tea, no bottles of water, no drinking fountain. I hadn’t brought any water, assuming that they’d have some there, so we had to get up and drink out of the hose used to clean the shower when we were thirsty. And to use the bathroom we had to dry off, put our robes on, and walk out near the lobby where the public restrooms were. Toward the end of our half hour, we mistook the five-minute warning knock for the time-to-go knock and put our robes on and carried our clothes outside where there were no beds to lie in and no chairs to sit in. Not knowing what to do with us, the woman at the front desk escorted us up one of those teeny tiny spiral staircases (like the one in the Statue of Liberty) to a hideous waiting room furnished with patio furniture and cheesy women’s magazines. We waited there until our masseuses came to get us. My masseuse was a woman who looked more like a man and who was wearing muddy hiking boots and cargo pants – not exactly what I was expecting. The good thing was that she was strong and gave me a good massage, which almost made up for the fact that she was using lotion – not oil – one of those brands you buy at Safeway like St. Yves. After my massage, I asked the way to the steam room and my masseuse’s response was, “Did you book one?” Book one? I thought that the steam room was included? Nope. $10/half hour/person. So it was pay the $20 or leave. So we agreed to pay and they escorted us back down the teeny tiny spiral staircase to a steam room – at least it was private. Again, we had to jump out the steam room when we wanted to take a drink – this time out of the shower itself since the hose was on the floor. And if we wanted to take a shower, a beautiful bottle of Anti-bacterial Softsoap, the kind you buy for your kitchen sink, was at our disposal. The minute our half hour in the steam room was up, a woman banged to tell us to lock the door on the other side of the steam room that led to a second changing room so another couple could get ready to go in. They didn’t hose or wipe down the steam room that I could see, just herded us out and the next couple in. On our way out we left tips, but forgot to pay for the steam room. The staff never mentioned it and we didn’t go rushing back through the rain once we remembered halfway down Piedmont Ave. We end our day by drinking Rooibos chai and eating mochi and almond cookies at l’Amyx. I felt relaxed from the hot tub and massage, and happy to be spending time with a good friend, but I will never return to Piedmont Springs.