Spa resorts like beautiful Mariánské Lázně are, inevitably, all about the water. But there are so many ways this town’s 40 mineral springs have helped the place grow into the success it is today. Drinking the water–some of it with a distinctly sulphurous tinge–is said to have a range of health benefits loved by royalty, VIPs and visitors from all over the world.
So, how about bathing in the stuff?
Staff here say that their hot mineral bath infused with CO2 gas, can slow down your heart rate and even reduce your blood pressure if that’s required. And, at the five star Danubius Nové Lázně, a ‘couples’ version is one of their signature treatments.
Intrigued, we decided to try it.
We headed down elegant, lofty corridors, past the stunning, pillared, Roman style baths, to what turned out to be no ordinary bathroom. It was vast : beautifully tiled, with two, quietly fizzing baths, one at each side of the room, and, in the centre, two treatment couches. At the top of the room, near the window, was a table decorated with pot plants, a bottle of sparkling wine and two glasses. Alongside: two, sociably close chairs. And a clothes stand.
After several unsure moments standing around and taking it all in, we were asked by our therapist to ‘undress and sit down, please’. At which point, she left the room for a few moments; leaving us a little confused.
‘Do we take EVERYTHING off,’ I hissed? ‘No idea’, said Nigel–his eyes theatrically widening in the direction of the wine. ‘Do you think that’s for us?’
‘Don’t be presumptuous,’ I whispered. ‘Anyway, where do we sit? Naked, on these dining chairs? Or we could perch casually on the couches for a while? Or do we just get in the baths?’
We decided to head for the warm water, both whipping off our robes and plunging in, to let the water cover our modesty, before the therapist returned. Because, to be honest, we’re fairly bashful Brits.
Having sampled a few of the hotel’s treatments already, we should have been used to the slightly more forthright approach shown by staff towards their guests than you might find in some countries. While a spa in the UK, for example, might see staff averting their gaze, or even leaving the room for a few ‘modesty moments’ while the client undresses, here, sometimes, it’s all about stripping off and getting on with it. They’ve seen it all before, after all.
Never mind, we were soon both enjoying every second of this experience. The mineral water with the CO2 gas had been heated to a temperature of between 32-34 °C and then directed into each tub. The fizzing of the CO2 gas on your skin, is a gentle, tickling sensation. After both giggling quietly about it feeling a bit like being immersed in a giant, warm gin and tonic, we got down to the serious business of relaxing.
We are generally in good health, so didn’t ‘need’ the promised medical benefits, but still, the whole experience was so calming that we weren’t surprised to feel that we were drifting….floating…..and would have been quite happy to stay in our bathtubs for considerably longer than the 30 minutes allocated.
But our lady returned, asking each of us (cue more British bashfulness again….) to leave our tubs (there was no elegant way of clambering out of these, frankly, ) and get on the couches. ‘Face down?’ asked a naked and slightly nervous Nigel, before our lady briskly swaddled us in cosy ‘dry wraps’ for ten minutes or so. Then left us to get our robes back on.
‘Maybe the wine’s a gift,’ I ventured; dreamily laid back now; my nakedness safely under wraps. ‘They might be offended if we leave it.’
But we were too ‘polite’ to ask, so, by the time we found out that the sparkling wine was actually all part of the five star couples mineral bath ‘treatment’, it was too late.
Overall? This was a gloriously relaxing way to end our final day at this beautiful resort. But next time…..we’ll try hard, honestly, to be less British.
Where have you embraced cultural differences, even if you found it a little difficult?