Liquidrom (Berlin)

Kelo Panorama Sauna
Photo courtesy of Liquidrom

Liquidrom, located in Berlin’s hip Kreutzberg neighbourhood, was my 2nd German sauna experience. After my stellar experience at Vabali Spa, I was keen to try more spas while travelling alone in Germany. In my research, came across many well-reviewed saunas in Berlin including Thermen am Europa Centre, Berliner Bader, and Kiez Sauna. With only a few days left in Berlin, it was tough to choose which one to try — so many saunas, not enough time!

If you look online, review of Liquidrom are quite mixed. For instance, their current Yelp rating is only 3 stars (based on 208 reviews). However, I would say some of the bad reviews are from foreigners who may not be familiar with German spa culture. Because of the convenient location and distinctive architecture, it seems like this spa attracts more tourists than others (please do not be *that* person who tries to take pics for instagram inside the spa when cell phones are not allowed!). Please don’t let the negative reviews deter you from visiting Liquidrom.

What sets Liquidrom apart is the large float pool (in some German sites I read, google translated it to “brine”, which makes me think of preparing Thanksgiving turkey…). Set under a cavernous, dimly lit cupola with under water speakers playing techno music, this warm, salt water pool is the pièce de résistance of Liquidrom. It is unlike any other float spa I have been to and so quintessentially Berlin. Only here can you get your party vibes on while simultaneously chilling and relaxing.

Check-in was fairly easy. I arrived on a Friday early afternoon and I did have to wait in line a few minutes to check-in and pay. I chose the 3 hour ticket that included access to the thermal baths and saunas. Then it was about 15 minutes before I could enter, as they limit the number of people in the facility. There were quite a few people who arrived around the same time as me. The reception area is quite small, there’s no where really to sit. So try to arrive at off peak hours to avoid a lot of standing around.

As with Vabali Spa, I knew to bring my own towel, robe, and flip flops to avoid paying for rentals (18.50€ for a robe, slippers, and 2 towels – no thank you!). You may have heard about how German saunas are “textile free” (nude) and have men and women together. Well, be prepared to get over your shyness immediately, as even the change rooms are mixed. There are separate entrances for men and women, but I’m not sure why, as they both lead to the same room! The locker room is a bit crammed and pretty bare bones. Not a lot of space to put your things or dry your hair etc. If you have an extensive post-spa beauty routine, be warned! This is not a place to leisurely style your hair and do your makeup. It is more of an in and out type of place. While you might feel strange undressing in front of the opposite sex, everyone will be naked together in the mixed saunas anyway. As I mentioned in my review of Vabali Spa, no one I encountered was creepy or inappropriate. The nudity aspect is just a normal thing in this part of the world. I was actually really impressed. I feel like if we tried to do this in North America, there would definitely be some people who would ruin it for the rest of us by staring or being gross.

First things first, I had to check out the float pool. It is just as magical as it looks in the photos. With softly coloured lights, under water music and super salty water, the whole experience is really trippy. It’s sort of like being back in the womb — with an in utero DJ. There are pool noodles floating around that you can lie on as well. I tended to stay near the sides with my toes tucked under the ledge to prevent myself from drifting and bumping into strangers. You seriously lose track of time in here. There’s a small window at the top of the cupola, letting light shine in. It’s like being at the Pantheon in Rome. It is incredibly beautiful and relaxing.

Next, I entered the sauna area ( you have a bracelet which unlocks the turnstile to enter). I had to remove my swimsuit first, as the saunas are a textile-free zone. This is my one issue with this spa. If you want to go back and forth between the saunas and the float pool, you need to keep going to and from the lockers, taking off your wet swimsuit and putting it back on, which is awkward. Then there are the 2 outdoor baths, where some people are naked and some keep their swimsuit on, which I feel is weird. If everyone is naked, it doesn’t feel awkward. But if some are clothed and you’re sitting there naked, it does feel a tad weird. It doesn’t help that the lounge area has huge windows looking out into the courtyard with the outdoor baths. So if you choose to bathe in the nude, you are on full display in bright daylight in front of tons of people sitting around in their robes reading magazines and having beers.

The sauna area is compact but has everything you need to do a few cycles of alternating hot and cold (i.e. sauna/steam room, followed by a dunk in the cold plunge pool or just a cold shower). There are foot baths too, although I did not see many people using them. Like Vabali, there are little ledges for your glasses outside every sauna and hooks for your towel/robe. There are also shelves for you to store things like a water bottle (highly recommended) or reading material.

They do aufguss rituals, or infusions, every hour on the hour. They keep a schedule on their website and posted in the sauna area. These take place in their largest and hottest sauna, the Finnish sauna. I tried one with aromatherapy where the saunameister doled out yogurt to slather onto our faces after. He even gave us cucumbers to put over our eyes. We must have looked pretty silly, but damn, the cold yogurt was so refreshing after getting out of the hot sauna. I wished I could have tried all the different infusions, with names like “walk in the forest”, “chilling desert wind”, “fruit garden”, and “hell fire”. Okay, maybe I would skip that last one…

Photo taken by me while walking to Liquidrom from the S-bahn station

In between soaking in the baths and sweating it out in the saunas, you can let your body temperature return to normal in the lounge area. Bring your own reading material as they don’t provide any. There are tons of lounge chairs, so you don’t have to worry about leaving your stuff on one of them to reserve it (that is not allowed here in any case). I had a fresh fruit smoothie at the bar which hit the spot. Service is a little slow, but I was so relaxed I barely noticed. I even met some friendly fellow travellers from France and we had a good chat. I was relieved however, that I met them at the end. Although I got more comfortable with being naked with strangers, I still feel it might have felt awkward to meet people at the bar (in our robes) and then later see them naked in the sauna.

The clean, minimalist design and variety of special musical events gives this place a cool factor for sure. Facilities are well maintained and staff are non-intrusive but helpful if you need them. If it weren’t for that float pool, it would be a pretty nice, but standard place. The float pool really elevates Liquidrom and was one of my most memorable experiences from my trip to Berlin.

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