Top 10 affordable spas, bath houses and hammams in Europe
Rejuvenate before you de-juvenate in Europe’s clubbing capital with a trip to Liquidrom, a much-loved spa in the trendy Kreuzberg neighbourhood that offers a chic-luxury experience for a fraction of the price you’d expect. The centrepiece of this urban bath house is a large salt-water pool in a dimly lit room with a domed roof; the salt density is high enough to make floating easy, while piped chillout muzak encourages a total trance-out. Elsewhere, there’s a range of saunas and steam rooms – including a Himalayan salt sauna and an outdoor pool where you can enjoy a drink in the crisp Berlin air.
• From €19.50 for two hours’ sauna and thermal bath, liquidrom-berlin.de
Gellert Baths, Budapest
Everyone knows Budapest is the dream destination when it comes to bath culture and there are plenty to choose from, catering to every taste: from a Spa-rty at Schienzy to the low-key relaxation of the ancient Rudas Baths. The first choice for those on a winter city break, however, has to be Gellert Baths, a stunning art nouveau mansion. As well as a effervescent swimming pool, there’s a range of small pools with water rich in minerals from the hills behind the building. And while many baths in Budapest still have separate sessions or areas for men and woman, since 2013 Gellert baths has been fully mixed.
• Adult from £15, gellertfurdo.hu
The Blue Lagoon will, of course, be high on the list for most visitors to Iceland, but for those looking for a soak without leaving the capital, Laugardalslaug is a great (and affordable) thermal pool – the largest in the city. As well as a thermal steam bath, it has hot tubs and, for those who want to splash out on some extra treatments, is connected to the Laugar Spa. Another option, on the outskirts of the city in Mosfellsbær, is Lágafellslaug, which has an outdoor pool, hot tubs and saunas.
• Adult £6.90, child £1, reykjavik.is
Sauna Hermanni, Helsinki
“Raising steam since the 1950s,” Sauna Hermanni is one of three public saunas in the Finnish capital. As we’ve previously reported, it’s a place where you can join in the routines of Helsinki life, where locals make a point of sweating it out on a weekly basis. Expect classic wood-panelled saunas, with a mellow, completely relaxing atmosphere and vintage touches throughout.
• Adult €10, child €3, saunahermanni.fi
Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı, Istanbul
Another city with a spa heritage is Istanbul, and it has plenty of spots to choose from, one of the most impressive being Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı. Built in the 16th century and named after an admiral of the Ottoman navy, it reopened in 2012 after a seven-year restoration. It is a grand, intricate building, with the largest hammam dome in the city offering a classic “hammam bathing ritual experience” (expect a deep exfoliating scrub). There’s the option to continue your self-care with a massage afterwards.
• Adult £36 for hamam ritual, child £22, under-5 free, kilicalipasahamami.com
Sanduny banya, Moscow
As grand as they come, Sanduny is a palatial and venerable bath house – and with Moscow temperatures dropping to well below freezing in winter, it is a great place to come in from the cold. Founded in 1808, Sanduny is the oldest bath house in the country and among its pillars, statues and marble interiors are public and private baths, swimming pools, steam rooms and hot tubs. Tourists can also take a walking tour of the site (every Tuesday at 4pm), to learn more about the history of Russian baths before, presumably, taking the plunge.
• From £23, sanduny.ru
Banya No 1, London
When our writer Kevin Rushby paid London’s first Russian bath house a visit, he found himself lying face down in a steam room while “a large Latvian man lightly spanks me with fistfuls of oak leaves”. This banya – touted by many London party people as the perfect hangover cure – is not a particularly mellow experience, but after a session of being whipped with twigs (a venik massage) and drenched with buckets of frozen water while being served beetroot juice and vodka, you’ll be ready to hit the commute on Monday.
• £30 for a two-hour session, £60 for three-hour session and venik massage, gobanya.co.uk
Turkish baths, Harrogate
The stunning, historic Turkish baths in the spa town of Harrogate are an impressive 19th-century spectacle, with lavish Moorish and Islamic architecture. The baths, which has been visited by many European royals over the years, were refurbished in 2004 and offer a contemporary spa experience, with steam room, three chambers heated to different temperatures and a plunge pool. There is also a wide range of treatments, from Indian head massage to reiki.
• From £15.50 for two and a half hours, turkishbathsharrogate.co.uk
Lázně na lodi, Prague
An alternative spa experience in the heart of Prague, Lázně na lodi is a sauna on a boat designed by local architecture practice H3T. The sauna – at the lively Náplavka embankment – has space for 16 people, who can sweat it out while enjoying views across the river to Prague castle. The best bit, however, is leaping into the Vltava river to cool off.
• £2.50 for 30 minutes, laznenalodi.cz
Built in 1904 in the centre of the city, Centralbadet is an art nouveau palace where visitors can unwind in magnificent surroundings, both inside and in its lush garden. Along with bath and sauna rooms there is space for yoga and meditation, and a sunbathing terrace for summer. A unique touch is the traditional barbershop, offering an old-fashioned razor shave.
• From £22 for pool, bath and sauna areas, centralbadet.se
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