It is rainy in England, foggy and cold – you would think that these people love spending time in saunas more than anything. Well, they don’t.
As a German I am used to having a more or less fancy Nordic sauna with every public swimming pool.
It feels natural to me to lie there, feel the heat, hear the crackling of the hot stones on the oven and just relax.
English people, or at least Londoners, have a different idea of saunas:
Either they encourage sexual intercourse (hetero- and more often homosexual) or they are attached to a fitness club where you have to be a member in order to use them.
In the latter kind of sauna everyone has to wear swim wear – an idea that I personally cannot stand.
So the quest was to find a normal sauna where no swim suit was required and no shady business was going on.
That seemed impossible
But then – when I already wanted to give up – I came across the “Elixir of Life Health Club” – a naturist sauna.
Ok, to be honest: I didn’t know anything about naturists before. What I know now: They like being naked.
Somewhere in Wood Green behind a shop-window is this little health club. And I can tell you after seeing one too many sex-sites I was really sceptical.
A look at the price list deepened my confusion: “Single men £15, Mixed Couples £5 each, Single women £3” is said there.
“That is because we do not want single men to come here who have sexual intentions,” the receptionist told me. That calmed me down a little.
The Elixir of Life
The facilities are small but really nice. A Nordic sauna, a steam room and a jacuzzi can be used for the whole day.
The place is clean and most of the staff are really friendly.
Also, you get your own locker and as many towels as you want. Water, tea, coffee and biscuits are free, too. In both showers you find shower gel – so you don’t really have to bring anything with you.
After two minutes I found myself shaking a lot of naked people’s hands – I met Bob and Dave and René. All very friendly and nice.
Once in a while a naturist (that means naked) masseuse would collect one of them for a massage. Those are rather pricey but supposed to be very good.
But there are some small things that could be improved.
There are no clocks in the sauna so you have to guess how long you’ve been in there (which usually makes you leave too early).
There is no cleaning device in the steam room so you can’t really clean the sitting area before you sit down (urgh).
There are no chairs or loungers to sit down on and relax in between the sauna/ steam room sessions.
Only a small wooden bench that’s big enough for three people, uncomfortable and right across the jacuzzi which forces you to constantly talk to the people in there.
Still the best option
However, the Elixir is the closest I’ll get to German saunas in London and therefore I’ll be willing to overlook some of these shortcomings.
Does that make me a naturist? I don’t think so.