Former Auto Body Shop Transformed Into Zen Bathhouse

Three years in the making, Onsen is a brand-new, Japanese-inspired bathhouse and restaurant in the heart of San Francisco. Designed and built from the ground up by husband and wife duo Sunny Simmons and Caroline Smith, Onsen gives nod to international bathhouse culture while also adding their own unique, community spin.



After purchasing the space, the couple lived in an airstream inside the previous automotive building while they completely revamped the space. As a craft builder, Sunny aimed to keep the original character of the building, while also making it fit for modern day luxuries. All the wood in the building has been carefully collected through time by Sunny himself.



The walls of the treatment rooms and throughout the restaurant are full of carefully curated art by Caroline.




Onsen has a total of six treatment rooms and a communal bathing room, complete with a cold plunge shower installation.




Each room in the bathhouse portion has its own look and feel. The dry sauna features all redwood and is more reminiscent of a traditional sauna room, while another room features graphic black and white tiles. The five head cold shower plunge installation is inspired by steampunk-era fiction.



They also collected bathhouse tickets from around the world to decorate the walls.


In the front of the building, Onsen has an intimate, chef-driven restaurant and tearoom featuring fresh, seasonal cuisine and tea service. Lastly, the owners and creators behind Onsen also believe in giving back to the community. They close for business on Tuesdays, but plan to open it to the neighborhood and community around them to provide services that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.

Photos by Raquel Venancio Marins.

After surviving a quarter life crisis, Nanette went from working in healthcare canadian meds to pursuing her loves of design, food and writing. During the day she works in social media marketing, by night she writes for Design Milk. You can find more of her work at