Visiting Germany and feel like a relaxing day at the spa? WARNING: German spas are not like those back home and if you’re unprepared, you may just have one of the most uncomfortable and awkward experiences of your life! Learn from my mistakes and read this German Spa Survival Guide before your visit!
The German Spa Survival Guide:
1. Know what you’re getting yourself into
Spas in Germany are different to back home and it’s best to be aware of that before you arrive and get the shock of your life. Do yourself a favour and do some research about German spa culture (like you’re doing now, well done!) and etiquette before your visit to save yourself from a sense of burning embarrassment that unpreparedness will surely bring. Don’t do what I did and come completely unprepared.
2. Leave your swimsuit at home
You’ll stick out like a sore thumb if you wear your swimsuit in a German spa and in fact, in most saunas it is actually ‘verboten’ (forbidden) to wear one. The point of using a sauna is to sweat out toxins from the body and clothing (no matter how minimal) can block pores, trap sweat and carry bacteria.
3. Take a shower before and after
Hygiene is king here. You want to enter the spa with the cleanest body possible and afterwards, when you’re soaked in sweat, ALWAYS be sure to step back in the shower before doing anything else. No one wants your sweaty body in the spa or plunge pools. That’s just icky.
4. Mind your sauna etiquette
You’re not going to offend anyone with all your bits hanging out, but if you don’t observe the correct sauna etiquette, be prepared for a stern reminder about correct procedures! Be sure to bring your towel into the sauna to sit on. I repeat. Do not place your naked butt cheeks on the wooden sauna bench. Your sweat can stain the wood and that will not go down well.
5. Don’t stare
Everyone in the spa is exposed and vulnerable and staring at their bare, naked bodies is just plain rude! Avert your eyes and concentrate on doing your own thing. If you find that the other sauna-goers are staring at you (like what happened to me!) it’s probably because you are doing something wrong or have upset somebody!
6. But discreetly watch others
While you don’t want to stare directly at somebody, you do want to take note of how they’re sitting and behaving in the sauna so you can follow their lead.
7. Know that most German spas are mixed
If being in the same sweaty confines as the opposite sex in nothing but your birthday suit makes you uncomfortable, check with the spa and see whether they have ‘women only’ or ‘men only’ sessions. Some of them do, but for the most part, they’re mixed. Germans just don’t have the same hang ups about their bodies as us English-speaking folk and are completely comfortable with letting it all out together.
8. Keep chit chat to a minimum
Germans go to saunas to relax and for the health benefits and so aren’t going to be particularly impressed if you run your mouth and disturb the peace. If you need to speak, talk softly and only when you have to.
9. Don’t let the Aufgussmeister scare you
In every spa there is someone known as an Aufgussmeister who is specially trained in sauna wellness. From time to time he will barge in, throw more water on the rocks and perhaps some scented oils and then begin frantically whipping a towel around in the air. This is known as Aufguss and is an important German tradition and helps to circulate the air. Be sure to give a round of applause at the end to show your appreciation!
10. Just go with it
Frankly, if you’ve decided to visit a German spa, you’ll enjoy the experience a whole lot more if you leave your inhibitions at the door. Strip off, let it all out and just go with it. You might just come away with a new sense of liberation you haven’t found elsewhere, although I’m the first one to admit that it didn’t come so easily to me on my visit!