Athens’ quirkiest pedicure
Before I get into the nitty gritty, let me first disclose that when it comes to pampering, I’m not much of a spa girl. When guests ask me for a referral to someplace they can find a great massage after a day of hiking around the ruins, I usually have to turn to an Athenian neighbor for a suggestion. And since my bestest gal friend in Chicago also happens to be a hair dresser, I’m not up on the trendiest salons in the city of Athens either. In fact, when Basil surprised me once with a “spa day” for my birthday one year I came away with the lunch they served as my own personal highlight. So when a friend in Athens told me over lunch about a new spa that had opened downtown, I nodded a bit but didn’t look up from the menu, more interested in the fish on the menu than the fish he was describing at the spa …
Fish, at an Athens spa?
By now you know that I’m not much for spas & pampering, but I am the ultimate sucker for anything remotely off the beaten path or intriguingly odd. Suddenly he had my attention and before our lunch was delivered to our table I had an appointment at the Athens FishSpa.
I will be the first to admit I had no idea what to expect. As I walked down Ermou street from Syntagma, turning right onto Aiolou Street looking for the storefront I was kind of delighted to see just how “hidden” it was (there’s something even more alluring about anything that’s a challenge to find). The entrance to the multi-story office building gave no clue that the spa itself would be sleek and urban chic. The quiet, zen feeling was most welcome coming in off the bustling streets of Athens. I was greeted with a welcoming smile by Katya, and owner Fotis, and after some small talk that include learning that Catya and I have numerous mutual friends in Chicago, given a little lesson on the history of the Garra rufa fish …
After washing off my feet and lower legs I settled onto a bench facing the large windows overlooking the pezodromo (pedestrian street). And at first I honestly could not watch as I submerged a foot into each of two tanks, but the gentle massaging and tingling feeling quickly relaxed me into watching these toothless fish at work on my tired, achy feet. They immediately gravitate towards areas of dry skin & callouses, and quite frankly after a few minutes I found them much more enjoyable (and a whole lot let scary) than watching a pedicurist go at my feet with a callous removal blade. The experience feels a lot like tiny jets bubbling around your feet and calves. (I also have really dry skin, and as the photos show, they took care of that immediately, and my calves and feet were really smooth and soft after my pedicure).
In addition to the tanks for soaking your feet and calves (15 -18 euro for 30 minutes), there’s also a full body tank in a private room (60 euro) (used primarily to relieve symptoms of excessive dry skin or eczema, the fish aren’t actually a cure for these skin conditions, but treatments can seriously reduce the extent of skin patches, itchiness and its other obvious annoyances).
FishSpa also offers massages and reflexology treatments (no surprise that I didn’t treat myself to one, but friends who have had their foot massages claim they were the perfect end to a perfect spa visit).
I’m planning on bringing my nieces in the next time they’re in Athens. I think it is the perfect family break from the history and archeology of Athens and a great “after the Acropolis” stop. (Judging from the reviews from visitors to the Rhodes FishSpa location, kids love this crazy sounding idea and parents love anything that keeps their kids happy, so that’s just one more reason to add this to your “things to do with kids in Athens” list.
FishSpa is located at 45 Aiolou – (note that they are on the 1st floor, which for North Americans means the 2nd floor or one flight up from ground level) It’s a bit of a challenge to find, which is kind of amusing once you get settled in with your feet in a tank since the large windows give you a great view up and down Aiolou street (a pedestrian street that crosses Ermou street and leads past Kotzia Square and eventually to Omonia Square).
FishSpa in Athens is open from 9 AM to 8 pm seven days a week, and walk ins are welcome although they prefer that you call for an appointment if possible. Catya and Fotis speak excellent English so no need to worry about communicating (and with 7 FishSpas in Greece, Fotis is quite the expert on everything fishdoctor, from the history to the hygiene to health and he’s always happy to share his knowledge.