Travel is all about experiences so when the opportunity to experience the world renown historic Roman-Irish spa Friedrichsbad, in Baden-Baden presented itself, it had to be seized. The catch was that total nudity was required or, as the brochure neatly said: ‘traditionally garment-free’. Fortunately, on the day we went, men and women bathed separately except in the final 2 stages or ‘stations’ so there was time to adapt and discard self-consciousness.
The bathing tradition encompasses 140 years from when Friedrichsbad opened in 1877. It’s elegant, charming, stately and extremely relaxing. Baden-Baden is located above several hot springs that, over 2000 years, have given forth mineral-rich thermal water for which the spa is renown.
The character and ambience immediately set the climate, so that within minutes of shedding all clothing, inhibitions fade, a silent atmosphere envelopes you, and you leave behind any reserves you imagine you’d cling to. The anxiety of being naked amongst strangers just melts away. Your self awareness undergoes a sort of re-set.
The experience is modeled around 17 well-being stations and a 3 hour session is recommended. Suggested times are displayed on the walls in each station. The objective is to increase your body temperature during the first 8 stations by means of warm and hot air (sauna and steam baths) and then bring it gently back down through cooling temperatures of the individual pools and baths. Showers like waterfalls are required between each station.
Two very special treatments of soap and body brushing followed by a cream massage are added – it’sheer bliss!
The piece de resistance is the relaxation or sleep room, where attendants cocoon you in a warm sheet and blankets wrapped firmly like a swaddle that takes your experience to yet another level. This goes beyond bliss. Sleep is unavoidable for the 30 minutes that is recommended here.
Returning to the reality of the outside world is managed by time spent in the graceful reading room. Sophisticated, dignified and captivating, it’s a ‘must do’. Nudity? Just like your clothing, your inhibitions are left in the locker.