Berlin – wellness and health destination
With Europe’s most diverse bathing landscape, outstanding hotel and day spas and internationally renowned hospitals, Berlin is an ideal destination for wellness fans and health tourists
- Berlin enjoys a bathing tradition going back over 200 years and today can boast Europe’s most diverse bathing landscape
- With over 60 indoor and open-air public pools across the city, swimming fun and relaxation is guaranteed both summer and winter
- Indulge in a maximum of comfort in the city’s upscale wellness areas in hotels and day spas
- The wealth of wellness on offer is as diverse as Berlin itself: from Turkish hamams to Thai massages and Ayurveda centres
- Over 90 hospitals provide outstanding medical care, including the Charité, Vivantes and Helios clinics as well as the Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin (DHZB)
Berlin, March 2021 When you think of Berlin, you probably immediately think of the Brandenburg Gate or the Reichstag parliament building. Yet the city is equally renowned for its array of museums, diverse and exciting culinary scene, the joy of shopping in large malls and the coolest hidden boutiques, and fascinating night life. But this colourful, bustling city is just one side of Berlin.
It can also be tranquil and relaxed, a place of innumerable parks, gardens, woods and forests, and spreading lakes and waterways. That feeling is further enhanced by 60 open-air and indoor public swimming pools, a wealth of hamams, saunas, award-winning day spas and superb premium hotels with dedicated wellness areas. Moreover, Berlin’s hospitals are internationally renowned for treatments of a broad spectrum of health issues. With all that on offer – especially in these days, after months of lockdown – Berlin is an ideal destination to dive headfirst into life again, relax and enjoy. And that couldn’t be easier at such special venues as the Neukölln public swimming pool, originally opened in 1914, or the impressive Badeschiff pool in the River Spree, Turkish baths in oriental-style interiors, exclusive wellness retreats such as the Spa by Susanne Kauffmann in SO/ Berlin Das Stue, or in floating pools or pods. For those interested in high-quality medical care, Berlin also boasts over 90 hospitals, many internationally renowned and all dedicated to excellence in specific medical fields.
Berlin’s bathing culture past and present
In Europe, the ritual of bathing goes back to the classical world. Compared to other major cities, Berlin was rather late in constructing large public baths – even though personal hygiene in those days left much to be desired and few homes enjoyed the luxury of bathrooms or showers. Strict social norms, though, did not permit the kind of social exchange which might occur in bath houses. Ultimately, the need to address public health issues culminated in Berlin’s first two commercial public baths in 1853. Funded by a dedicated stock company, they proved so popular others soon followed, including the ‘Admiral’s Garden Baths’ (Admiralsgartenbad) in Friedrichstrasse and a public bath in Moabit. But not until the 1920s did swimming really take off as a recreational sport – now with municipal swimming pools open to men, women and children in more streamlined swimwear than the traditional ‘bathing costumes’. This boom led to a series of open-air pools and beaching beaches, including Berlin’s renowned Wannsee lakeside beach. From 1927 – 1930, the city’s first indoor public swimming pool was constructed in Gartenstraße – and at 50 metres long, this was Europe’s largest indoor pool at the time.
Down the years, a swimming pool was constructed in nearly every Berlin neighbourhood. Today, the Berlin public baths authority is responsible for over 60 public swimming pools – and no less than ten are heritage buildings, including those in Charlottenburg, Spandau and Neukölln. Berlin is also home to Europe’s largest lakeside beach – the Strandbad Wannsee – as well as Europe’s largest swimming pool in its Europasportpark (SSE) swimming and diving centre.
The Badeschiff pool is also one of Berlin’s bathing highlights. Set in the River Spree in the Alt-Treptow district, the pool offers the ideal location to swim your lengths in the city centre with a view of the Oberbaumbrücke bridge and the TV Tower – and at a water temperature of 24° Celsius. The Schöneberg indoor pool, with separate swimming and paddling areas, is popular with families, as is the Lankwitz indoor pool with its 60-metre-long slide.
The pleasures of sports and relaxation – and sweating in the sauna
For the sheer thrill of water sports, look no further than the Wellenwerk in Lichtenberg – Berlin’s first indoor surfing area with the world’s highest artificial surf wave! If indulgent relaxation is more appealing, just book into one of the city’s spas or floating pools. With a striking design reminiscent of a circus tent, the Liquidrom not only offers four saunas, but also a dimmed cupola hall with a pool where you can unwind to classical or electronic underwater music. Various DJs lay down the groove at regular live sessions, while the week’s highlights include offers such as a Ladies Special or Float With Lights. If your ideal is letting the stress of daily life slowly soak away, take the chance to book in at tranxx, Berlin’s largest floating pool. Here, you can float in healing salt water either alone or as a couple, switch off and forget the world’s troubles.
With at least one public sauna in nearly every neighbourhood in the city, sauna fans are also spoilt for choice in Berlin. In Pankow, the SAUNARIVM offers a Finnish sauna, a tepidarium and a Roman salt steam bath, all set in a design inspired by a Roman temple. In Friedrichshain’s Kiez-Sauna, guests can opt for a Finnish sauna, organic sauna, steam bath or the family sauna – where, on Saturdays until 7pm, you can even hear fairy stories and other tales. In the heart of the city, the OLIVIN Wellness Lounge in Prenzlauer Berg is a real oasis of tranquillity and wellness for urbanites. Here, guests can move between the sauna and the charming outdoor area with a seven-metre-long water feature, bamboo grove and concealed shower. If you’re looking for that special sauna feeling, then check out the Sauna Floß, a sauna raft on the River Havel with space for four people. The raft not only offers a sauna, but also the chance to putter along as far as the Wannsee lake. The floating saunas from FINNFLOAT®SAUNAFLOß and SpreeBanja® on the Müggelsee, Berlin’s largest lake, are even more luxurious. Their offers include overnight stays with breakfast and other specials to make your night on the raft a truly memorable experience! Berlin also has great options for those who prefer to stay closer to the city centre including, for instance, the Saunadampfer – a sauna steamer – and its sister ship, the Badedampfer – a floating whirlpool.
Hamams, Thai massage, Ayurveda and more
Berlin’s spa and wellness landscape is as diverse and colourful as the city itself – from Turkish hamams to Thai massages and Ayurveda centres and much, much more. Germany’s first hamam was the Turkish bath for women in the Kreuzberg Women Centre’s Chocolate Factory Association. Originally opened in 1988, this is still a special place in the city, a venue where women from around the world can meet and care for body and soul. The Sultan Hamam in Schöneberg, in contrast, is for men and women. In addition to the classic soap foam washing and peeling, it also offers massages and cosmetic treatments. In its oriental-style rooms, the Charme d'Orient wellness centre in Berlin-Britz focuses on a holistic range of treatments with natural cosmetic products as well as dermaceutic skin care, and much more. Lovers of Asian spa treatments will be sure to book a visit at the vabali spa. On 20,000 square metres right in the heart of bustling Berlin, this unusual wellness centre, designed in a Balinese style, includes a spacious sauna area with ten saunas, several pools and relaxation rooms, as well as a spreading summer garden. The spa offers a wide range of treatments, from massages and cosmetics to wellness. Berlin also has many small Thai massage studios throughout the city for authentic and therapeutic Thai massages. Ayurveda fans can also find centres inspired by traditional Ayurvedic teachings – such as Prenzlauer Berg’s Surya Villa (Sun Villa) which offers Ayurvedic treatments, yoga and meditation, as well as nutrition and diet counselling. If your ideal spa day is a mix of wellness and fitness, then head for the LOKAHI LOFT in Charlottenburg. Here, together with saunas, sunbeds, massages, and a great roof terrace, you can find a generous fitness area for head-to-toe muscle work, yoga and more. Charlottenburg is also home to ASPRIA – a fitness and wellness club on five floors where members can also use co-working spaces, relax on the roof terrace, or even arrange private parties.
Berlin’s hotel spas promise the pleasures of sheer luxury and relaxation. Not only do they pamper guests with exclusive products, beauty and massage treatments, but also include generous private areas. The ADLON SPA BY RESENSE, for instance, has a private spa suite package for two people or a spa retreat for best girlfriends, while at the Club Olympus Spa & Fitness in the Grand Hyatt Berlin couples can book the spa in the evening and enjoy the exclusive use of the pool, sauna, and roof terrace with views over the city. The Hotel Oderberger’s Midnight Swim also offers couples the luxury of the exclusive use of a historic pool, plus the chance to swim in this special ambiance in the colour of your choice. For something special in beauty, Germany’s first and only Guerlain Spa at the Waldorf Astoria Berlin features the products of this renowned French brand. Here, on 1000 square metres, you can indulge in exclusive Guerlain products, swim in a cloud-shaped pool, or relax in the sauna or steam room. At the Cowshed Spa in SOHO House Berlin, you can unwind and recharge in an especially relaxing setting with spa treatments using certified organic and fair-trade cosmetics from the Cowshed range. The ONO Spa in The Mandala Hotel Berlin combines regenerative technologies with traditional spa elements – and is the only spa in Germany offering the Iyashi Dôme detox experience. And for sheer indulgence in an unusual setting check out the Rocco Forte Spa housed in the lavish former vault of the nineteenth-century Dresdner Bank. In the heart of the green Grunewald district, unwinding and relaxing is also high on the agenda at the spa in the Schlosshotel Berlin by Patrick Hellmann where you can combine a luxurious spa experience with a walk in the attractive private park around the hotel.
Berlin as a health care location
Not only is Berlin renowned for relaxation and recreation, but also for its professional health care and medical services – which are drawing growing numbers of guests to the city. After all, Berlin is home to some of the most internationally renowned specialist and general hospitals, including the Charité, Vivantes and Helios Clinics and the Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin (DHZB). The city has a total of over 90 hospitals with approx. 22,000 beds and over 9,000 physicians – a number which does not even include individual medical practices. Berlin’s medical services cover a broad spectrum from one day check-ups to outpatient and inpatient treatment, post-operative rehabilitation and much more. This medical landscape also has one special feature – the city really does have internationally experienced experts in every specialised field of medicine. Many hospitals and clinics offer generously appointed exclusive rooms and staff speaking a range of languages – from Arabic to Russian – while airport transfer services ensure guests arrive conveniently and quickly at their chosen hospital. Berlin’s many hotels with spreading spa areas are also a good option for those using outpatient services. In addition, the Berlin Health Excellence Initiative, launched by visitBerlin in early 2020, brings together partners in medical care (hospitals, clinics and medical practices) and the hotel industry. The dedicated Health Excellence medical tourism website supports prospective patients in finding the right physician or the perfect hospital.
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