A Little Piece of Paris in Amsterdam
The Netherlands has the highest number of spas in relation to its population, boasting in excess of a thousand public sauna establishments. Amsterdam’s Sauna Deco, however, stands out from this crowd. Not only is this haven of tranquility situated in the historic Canal district on Herengracht 115, its authentic art deco interior design is stunning.
Although modest in size, this richly atmospheric sauna designed by Dutch architectural icon Hendrik Petrus Berlage creates a feeling of luxury and calm. Replete with original 1920s deco objects, it features authentic Edgar Brandt railings, lavish chandeliers and gilded ornaments procured from Paris’ famous Le Bon Marché. A plethora of stained glass and sandblasted windows, designed by famed French glass designer René Jules Lalique and art deco icon Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann, bathe the space in therapeutic natural beams of light.
This deco theme really came into being in 1975 when owner Rens Visser learnt that Le Bon Marché was going through a complete revamp and travelled to Paris to successfully acquire much of the dumpster-destined deco objects for her future spa. Carefully removing and transporting the desired pieces from Paris, Deco Sauna finally opened in 1979 to instant acclaim.
In addition to the deco design element, it also features 19th century tiling from the defunct Twentsche bank, formerly on Spuistraat. This was a sale which also saw a staircase by Eiffel tower engineer Gustave Eiffel being sold to the nearby restaurant De Kikker and other objects to The Movies, Amsterdam’s oldest cinema.
Since its opening it has retained a core loyal clientele as well as attracting a flux of fresh customers discovering it for the first time. Notable punters include musician Lenny Kravitz, comedian Rob Schneider of Deuce Bigalow fame and countless Dutch show biz and political personalities.
Deco Sauna offers a traditional Finnish sauna at 100 celsius, a standard sauna heated to 80 celsius, two infrared sauna cabins, a solarium, a Turkish steam-bath, foot baths, a cold plunge pool, lounges and rest areas, massage rooms, a common shower hall, two outside areas including a planted terrace, and a bar.
by Thomas Lundy
Gloobbi Contributor based in Amsterdam