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Total thirst trap: A proper Japanese-style onsen in the mountains of Santa Fe.

Written On 3/24/2022

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to travel to Japan, you may be familiar with the idea of a traditional onsen, which is the word for “hot spring.”

Onsen are fairly ubiquitous around the country, especially in more rural areas, and the word has basically evolved to embody bathing facilities and inns where you can enjoy a hot soak and after, sit down to a delicious meal. Combining a spa with a restaurant? GENIUS.

Here's what else is totally effing brilliant and seemingly unimaginable on every level: taking this ancient Japanese concept and plopping it in the super chill and very cool southwestern American town of Santa Fe, NM.

The sprawling property is nestled up on a slope in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains right outside of the main village. (Drive further up the road and you’ll find the local ski resort.) Ten Thousand Waves consists of fourteen different lodges for overnight guests (stay at one of magical Emperor’s Rooms if you’re a baller and appreciate amenities like wood stoves and private courtyards), but it’s also possible to get a day pass if you’re afraid of commitment (and its prices).

While there are excellent massages, facials, and other spa services on the menu, the real draw are the different communal and private baths that, after you’ve changed into your cozy kimono robe, you can just kind of dreamily hop around between. The vibes are especially spesh: Everything smells like a combination of fresh mountain air, cedar, and piñon, a woodsy, exotic-smelling native incense that Santa Fe is known for. The architecture is a most dope mashup of traditional Japanese woodwork and classic New Mexican adobe, and the landscape is framed by the trees of the mountainous forest and the vast open sky New Mexico is famous for. Bonus points when you’re there during the winter, when you can pinch yourself in awe of sitting in a steamy hot mineral soup while you’re surround by snow.

As if this moment couldn’t get any more magical, chances are, you’ve worked up a bit of an appetite. That’s right, tt’s time to chow people. The restaurant on site, Izianami, serves up a full menu of small plates, organic meats, sushi, house made pickles, and desserts. Also: there is a sake menu. Enough said.  

Ten Thousand Waves

21 Ten Thousand Waves Way, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Prices start at $74; reservations strongly recommended.

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