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Sauna season

Kristall Wohlfühltherme: The ostalgic oasis built for friends

If Vabali is built for lovers, the Kristall Wohlfühltherme is built for friends. Head out to this relaxed and relaxing spa for an ostalgic oasis of laid back calm.

If Vabali is for lovers, Kristall Wohlfühltherme is for friends. Photo: Kristall Wohlfühltherme Ludwigsfelde

Upon entry, the Kristall Wohlfühltherme for may feel slightly underwhelming. Lacking the soft lighting and aromatherapy ambience of luxury saunas, it feels less like checking in for a spa weekend and more like swiping your pass at the public pool. However, once you’ve braved the locker room, you’ll emerge into a kitschy but admittedly cool sensory overload. The main room looks like a European village, if that village over-looked hordes of nude swimmers frolicking in a series of technicolour pools. A half circle of building façades face the pools and outdoor areas, and the indoor saunas and steam rooms can be found below.

The small-town setup lends itself to the spa’s atmosphere: the chatty, easy conviviality of the clientele gives it a local-watering-hole feeling. Friends share beers at the swim-up bar, strangers remind you to watch your step on the slippery bridge, and older women clap and proclaim, “Wunderbar!” as the sauna attendants introduce the Aufguss (infusion). Where Vabali is for lovers, Kristalltherme feels like it’s designed for groups of friends.

The facilities

What makes this spa worth the trek is the sheer breadth of what they offer: two steam rooms at different temperatures, a hammam, a cold plunge bath, a red light therapy booth, a mini looping ‘lazy river’, baking soda and salt baths and no less than 13 themed saunas. A highlight is the warm 12-percent salt pool in the outdoor garden, where you can float under the stars. Compared to most spas in Berlin, the saunas are huge: on a Monday evening, you might very well be the only one hanging out in a sauna that could easily fit 50 people.

In the 12-percent salt pool in the outdoor garden, you can float under the stars. Photo: Kristall Wohlfühltherme Ludwigsfelde

If you’re feeling peckish, the restaurant has a real Mensa energy: Matjes and Kartoffel and generous portions of Currywurst are available, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a grain bowl or turmeric latte. While there’s something oddly satisfying about eating Pommes rot-weiß at the spa, we’d suggest holding off on a meal until after your soak and hitting nearby Indian spot Desi’s, a surprisingly tasty find with cheap cocktails and excellent curries.

The wellness factor

You’re welcome to curate your own relaxation itinerary, but the spa also offers free special treatments nearly every half hour. Next to the usual Aufguss (you know it’s good when you’re slightly dizzy after), they also offer infusions like the ‘Vitamin Bomb’, a honey and fruit essential oil treatment including a fresh fruit platter. Alternatively, there’s the Wenik infusion with servings of birch juice and a backdrop of Russian tunes. One of the highlights of the schedule are the Wassergymnastik classes, given five times a day. After all, the only thing better than watching 30+ people do water aerobics in the buff is joining in yourself.

The spa also has regular events, such as ‘full moon swims’, when the hours are extended until 11pm and the outdoor pools are lit with candles.

Getting there

Hop on the RE3 (towards Falkenberg) or the RE4 (towards Ludwigsfelde) from Hauptbahnhof, Potsdamer Platz or Süd- kreuz, then walk 15 minutes to arrive at the spa. Keep in mind that the trains stop running at 10:57 pm and don’t resume again until 2am the next day.

The spa is open 364 days a year (excluding Christmas Eve); their non-holiday hours are 9-21 Monday to Thursday and 9-22 Friday to Sunday. Prices start at €25.50 for three hours.

  • Kristall Wohlfühlterme Ostverbinder 10, Ludwigsfelde