Dark Water

Self-care, evidently, is a virtuous quest worthy of legend.

The Hero’s Journey package at Bathhouse Flatiron purports to offer guests the “ultimate experience”—an eighty-minute massage and a fifty-minute scrub, plus a day pass. Rockwell Group incidentally cited the “hero’s journey”—Joseph Campbell’s narrative arc of self-discovery—as a point of reference for the design. The main character energy of the marketing is topped by claims that the 35,000-square-foot facility— nestled in the former shell of an underground parking garage on 22nd Street—is heated with recycled Bitcoin mining emissions. Self-care, evidently, is a virtuous quest worthy of legend.

Curious, then, that the Bathhouse aesthetic leans so hard on villainy. The dimly lit spa is punctuated by sharp geometric forms, recalling Baron Vladimir Harkonnen’s lavish bathing chambers in Denis Villeneuve’s Dune movies (2021 and 2024). The achromatic gloom that permeated this inmost cave was tempered only by the pools themselves, glowing bright blue like Fremen eyes. Had I been cast as the hero in the Bathhouse franchise? But as I mulled the question, the ear-splitting clan…

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