The Japanese do it, Nordic people, Moroccans and Hungarians do it. The ancient Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Ottomans all did it, too. But in Australia we’ve been a little slower to catch on to the idea of warm bathing in public.
Here’s a handful of places in Sydney (or just outside) where you can take the plunge into warm waters and thaw out. You’ll be surprised by the healing powers of bathing.
The bath house experience at Nature’s Energy, Balmain
At this day spa, relaxation is key. For $31 you get a 30-minute session. Bathers can access hot and cold baths, a steam room, sauna and complimentary herbal tea. The idea is to alternate between hot and cold water, followed by sessions in the steam room and sauna to revive circulation and energise the body. Finish up with a gritty exfoliation as the therapist lathers you in lemongrass and wattleseed polish. If you book in a 60-minute session for $44, extra treatments are discounted. Every Wednesday is women’s-only day.
The Turkish Treatment at Ottoman Turkish Bath & Spa Centre, Balmain
This is the only authentic Turkish bath in Australia. The Ottoman Package will leave you feeling mentally rested and spiritually calm. First, take a dip in the 38-degree marble hamam (Turkish bath) which is set in a big, hot steam room. Next, get scrubbed down by one of the bath attendants using a 100-per-cent-cotton loofah. End with an olive-oil-soap wash. Extra treatments include the sea-salt mask, or a goat’s-milk body treatment, which happen on the gobek tasi, a marble massage slab. When you’re all done, reflect in one of the relaxation rooms. The Turkish Treatment is women only.
A treat for the ladies at ARISOO Korean Bath House, Chatswood
In Chatswood, ARISOO is a bit of a secret. It’s where Koreans go to feel closer to home. The Korean bathhouse is for women only and offers all-bath access for $50. The ideal ritual? Start with a soak in the 42-degree bath before moving to the dry outside. Then, head for the cold bath followed by a session in the wet steam room or sauna to sweat it out. According to the team at ARISOO, the sudden change in temperature gets the blood flowing and helps to maintain optimum temperature internally. An extra $50 gets you a body scrub with a Korean scrubbing mitt, followed by a homemade seaweed-extract-gel rub.
Go at your own pace at the Japanese Bath House, Blue Mountains
In the tranquil Blue Mountains there’s an outdoor hot-spring bath. First timers are shown around the premises before being cut loose within an oasis of bathing facilities. It’s $70 for a three-hour session. Douse yourself in lemon myrtle, tea tree and eucalyptus oils for a herbal-steam mineral bath. This treatment is ideal for your lungs if you have a cold or the flu. A shower afterwards is also ideal to help wash away all the toxins purged from your body. Do your feet a favour in the Japanese Zen Garden’s reflexology stone footpath. Don’t forget to use the shower before plunging, it’s traditional onsen style here.
Moroccan Hammam at The Darling Spa at The Star, Pyrmont
Located on level two of the hotel at The Star, The Darling Spa has 11 treatment rooms including a Moroccan hammam chamber, steam room, Jacuzzi and fitness centre. Moroccan savon noir, or black soap, is applied, followed by a full-body exfoliation. Then the therapist covers you in rhassoul clay (a century-old product rich in minerals to improve skin and hair) and rose water from the Moroccan Atlas Mountains. The ritual finishes with a full-body massage with pure argan oil. This package is $360.
The Moroccan Hammam Experience at Fleur de Lys Medispa, Paddington
Embrace the ancient healing traditions of the Orient on a heated marble table. Step inside the traditional Moroccan heat room where women and men go for a body treatment that includes aromatherapy, detoxification and massage. The best part? The bath is in a private room. The soothing comfort and echoes of running water surround the body, while the heat from beneath stimulates blood circulation and opens the pores.
Signature Day Spa Wellness Centre