I know some of my German friends would roll their eyes at me for saying that Germans love to be naked in public. But I think they totally do. If you’re not familiar with the Freikörperkultur, of FKK (free body culture), chances are you will after spending some time in Germany. And while some would simplify that the FKK movement was born as a form of resistance against the East German regime, nudism in Germany has its roots way further in history. After doing a little research, what stuck with me most is the use of nudity historically as a way for people to free themselves from the religious restriction that has taught people to be ashamed of their body, and from the industrial society. Without clothes, no-one is a factory slave, everyone is equal.
Now, there’s an idea that jives with me.
In my quest to experiencing a culture to its fullest, I obviously decided I wanted to get naked in public too. Might seem trivial, yet for the the prude North American that I am, it’s a bit of a leap. So after baring it all in Turkey in a gender-segregated hamman, I thought that visiting a spa in Berlin – where almost everyone bares it all for all to see – was the next step in my quest to getting naked in as many countries as possible.
I totally just made that up. But I’m up for the challenge.
There are many spas in Berlin and they all sound fantastic. Yet one kept cropping up in conversations whenever I was trying to figure out which one to visit.
Friends go to vabali spa. Dates go to vabali spa. Colleagues go to vabali spa. All in the nude. I was naturally pumped when I got invited to visit vabali spa to review it on my blog. And while I love company, the thought of being completely naked with acquaintances in public made me somewhat nervous. So I elected to go on my own for my first experience. And although vabali spa is not an FKK venue, people are naked there in some outlets (meaning, people are naked in the saunas/steam baths and pools but cover themselves with bathrobes, kimonos or towels in the relaxation areas and restaurant), so it seemed perfect for my self-experiment.
VISITING VABALI SPA BERLIN
vabali spa is an oasis of peace and quiet smack in the center of the city. You’d never guess the hustle that’s going on just a mere meters away from just how peaceful it is.
Upon checking in, I was given a set of instructions with a wristband, a towel, a cute little kimono and was directed to the changing room. It quickly hit me right in the face how confident I actually am with nudity when I’m a complete stranger to everyone. Being naked with my mom is a thought that makes me extremely uncomfortable (perhaps she’d be judgemental of my pube trimming habits?!) – but here, I was just like, hey ho, I’m nakey, no biggie. Perhaps the last few years of cycling and yoga have given me that extra boost of body confidence? Also, the average customer age on the day I visited was much higher than my own and seemed to be indirectly proportional to everyone’s level of comfort with their own nudity.
On the day of my visit, it was a lush 30+ degrees celsius, the sun was shining and there was a light breeze that was caressing my body in places where it never gets the opportunity to do so. Once I managed to stop myself from staring at all the weiners dangling about nonchalantly, it felt amazing.
vabali spa has a huge outdoor area comprising of a swimming pool with sundeck and lounge chairs, a restaurant terrace, large garden with relaxation area, private massage cabanas (where I got an excellent 50-minute massage), more loungers and several saunas and steam rooms sprinkled across. If the weather isn’t on your side, the indoor area is equally impressive with its open-space swimming pool, cozy relaxation areas with heated waterbeds and fireside and even more saunas and steam rooms. I’m honestly looking forward to the weather to go bad to revisit and spend a day indoors curled up in a waterbed with a good book.
A STEAM ROOM FOR EVERY TASTE
It took me a little while understanding the daily infusion sauna schedule as it was only in German and there are so many steam rooms to pick from. Trust me, it’s well worth asking around for help in understanding the chalkboards. Turns out, Germans are pretty serious about their saunas! There’s a full schedule of different aromatherapy ceremonies and treatments going on at every hour in many of the steam rooms, ranging from being ‘whipped’ by the saunameister with tea-infused tree branches, to coffee body scrubs, revitalizing meditation, and chamomile blossom treatments. These are all free and make the experience feel like you’re getting so much more bang for your buck! They are all very popular and, at some point, there must have been at least 30 of us squeezed tight next to one another, completely naked, huffing and puffing from the unbearable heat in a tiny wood cabin whilst being ‘whipped’ with tree branches. Kind of a unique experience.
Whereas I came here to experience nudity in public and see what the German spa culture was all about, at the end of the day, these were all very trivial points in the grander scheme of things. I had the most relaxing day ever and, if anything, being naked simply contributed to making me feel really awesome about myself and super relaxed. Not what I expected!
IN A NUTSHELL
* Mark a full day off your calendar to experience the whole daily herbal treatment schedule. I got there at 11am and reluctantly left at 6pm because I had another engagement elsewhere. The spa is open from 9am to midnight daily. Make the best of it!
* The current day rate is €35.
* The restaurant specializes in Mediterranean and Asian delicacies and will gladly accommodate special diets upon request to their best ability. They have the best fruit smoothies!
* There is a large massage menu to pick from, ranging from Ayurveda treatments, Reiki, Shiatsu, Thai massages and algae body packs. I opted for the classic full body massage and it was honestly one of the best massages I’ve ever received.
* The spa is located a ten-minute walk from Hauptbahnhof (Berlin Central Station) – directions here
vabali Spa Berlin
All photos courtesy of vabali Spa Berlin.
Many thanks to vabali spa berlin for having me. As always, all opinions all my own.