Whether you’re a Berlin resident who wants a few hours respite from the daily city grind or a tourist wanting to soothe your aching feet from hours of trawling galleries, museums and sight seeing tours, Liquidrom offers stressed-out city dwellers a break from the urban humdrum in the heart of Berlin’s bustling metropolis.
Part of the Tempodrom complex situated just off the Hallesches Ufer, the Liquidrom is a spa that combines the elegant minimalist designs of German architect bureau Gerkan, Marg und Partner with a Zen temple-like wellness experience.
Following a hectic week and getting lost on the way over, I arrive at the Liquidrom sweaty and in a bad mood, but the staff are so pleasant, informative and smiley as they hand me a bathrobe and brochure, I check my crappy mood at the door and await my day of pampering. Before entering the main saltwater pool area, I am greeted by a sign at the door stating ‘Schweigen Halten’, which directly translates as maintain silence, I guess it’s just a fancy way of saying shut up, befitting the minimalist surroundings, which prompts me to feel like I’m entering some hydra-monastery.
Inside the dimly lit room, the water takes on the visual quality of crude oil, and as I walk into the 34-degree centigrade liquid, I feel as if I am easing myself into a large comfortable bath, which I happen to have to share with several other bathers.
The saltwater immediately lifts my body and leaves me feeling weightless as I float along the waters surface, like Millais’ Ophelia. Unlike Ophelia, I don’t look nearly as graceful nor demure, as water stings my eyes and the gash on my foot burns like it’s being lashed by the devil himself.
After a few minutes I slowly adapt to my new dark, warm, salty environment and grab a couple of colourful sausage shaped Styrofoam floats (that happen to look like props from the Muppet show). These support my head and knees and do, in fact, help to enhance my relaxation experience, so that my head doesn’t dip back avoiding water going up my nose.
To the side of me are coloured lights that trickle along the water’s surface casting shadows that dance on the ceiling. This is the surrealist light show that is described in the brochure. I’m not sure if this necessarily classifies as surrealist per se, as much as cloud watching on a summers day is, but nonetheless it’s relaxing and atmospheric. It’s pleasant to watch your silhouette glide by on the ceiling of the dome with the lights glimmering around you like a halo. However the idea promoted by the Liquidrom of the floatation experience making you feel ‘…as secure as in the arms of Mother earth’ is just a tad too new-agey for my taste.
The defining characteristic of the Liquidrom, and one that sets them apart from other more traditional spas, is their “Underwater Concert Hall”. Do not be alarmed. the Berlin Philharmonic isn’t furiously playing Beethoven in wet suits and oxygen tanks below you. The floatation room is filled with gentle, (for want of a better term) electronic ‘World’ music. The music is projected both outside and within the pool, so when I dip my head back it feels as if I have the best personalised headphones on. On Friday evenings you can even enjoy live music from 8pm onwards.
After a while, as I am lost in the whole floaty/music experience, it becomes a little difficult to discern and orientate yourself in the dimly lit environment. I accidentally bump into several fellow guests. Couples visiting together seem to resolve this issue well by taking it in turn to navigate their respective partners around to avoid any embarrassing blissed out meditative collisions. However I can imagine on busier days, especially in the winter, the small pool area may become subject to a case of high human floating traffic and collisions would be a common occurrence.
After floating around for about 45 minutes, it’s time to treat myself to a 30-minute deep tissue back massage. I am met at the bar by my masseuse, an angelic looking blonde and I’m curious to see if this petite young lady can exert the deep tissue satisfaction I so desire. To my pleasant surprise this little nymph manages to knead away the tension in my back with concentrated accuracy and strength. I am both transported and alleviated from the dull pain that I had been carrying in my shoulder blades. She maintains utmost professionalism, asking me several times how I am and checking that the pressure was appropriate. There are, of course, a range of more gentle massages on offer for those who prefer to indulge themselves, rather than beat years of back pain out of their system.
A note to my fellow Anglo Saxons, this spa is a thoroughly German affair, this being the case, both the sauna and changing rooms are mixed. In the sauna, there is a no clothing policy, though a towel is permitted for those like myself who are a bit more on the shy side. As I write this a handsome young gentleman is sweating it out legs akimbo in the see through glass sauna for everyone’s viewing pleasure!
Although I did enjoy myself the 3 hours I was there, my only issue was that the prices are fairly steep for what is essentially a heated pool and stylish architecture with a sprinkling of new age music (that may not necessarily be to to everyones taste). Any extras such as massages, towel/bathrobe rental, food and drink are added to the bill. What the place is essentially missing is more variety of treatments, such as a range of facial or body treatments on offer for example. It’s a little bit a case of style over substance here, but all in all I did leave feeling quite pampered. The Liquidrom is a lovely break from the daily routine of urban life and worth a visit if you are in Berlin.
For programme listings and prices please refer to the website.