Yes you read that right. Stark bollock naked. No bikini, no swimsuit, nada. But don’t be alarmed if your work colleague or mum friend from school suggests a visit. Visiting a sauna or spa in the Netherlands can actually be a really fun, liberating experience. Read on for my own personal experience of this typically dutch pastime.
The facilities are amazing
I have been lucky enough to visit a few different dutch saunas* in my 4 years here and I have to say these places are amazing. They are normally set in their own grounds with beautifully appointed changing areas (mixed of course), a huge varieties of swimming pools, steam rooms, jacuzzis, and of course saunas (finish, infrared, salt, asian, four elements, himalayan etc). They also normally have these ‘relax rooms’ equipped with full size beds and blankets that you can just go and take a nap on.
But don’t panic that the bed mate before you has lain there starkers, everyone gets issued with a bathrobe and slippers (or you can take your own) and in the public areas MOST people will keep their robe on, and only disrobe to actually go into the sauna, steam room, pool etc. Though you do get the odd few who like to walk around the whole time in their birthday suit, but for me it can get a little chilly walking from sauna to sauna especially as many are set over huge grounds outside.
They have nice restaurants and bars set in the grounds
Most of the spas I’ve been to have a selection of restaurants and bars dotted over the facility, which means you get to enjoy a glass of wine and some fried dutch snacks, or something healthier if you prefer (some spas even offer three course meals or a full buffet- you know how the dutch just love a buffet). And the best bit, you are all sat around munching on your goodies in your bathrobe, you don’t even need to get changed! Just imagine tucking into your portion of bitterballen knowing your own bitterballen are hanging free. Win Win!
No cameras allowed
No need to worry about voyeurs and weirdoes who secretly try to film you lying back legs akimbo (please don’t do this!!) in the sauna. There is a strict no mobile phones/cameras allowed policy which they will enforce. Plus the age range in these spas tends to average more in the higher figures, many of whom who still have no clue how to work a Nokia 7710 let alone the latest camera phone.
Your body confidence sky rockets
The first time I went to a naked sauna I’d not long given birth by c-section and was incredibly self conscious that everyone would be staring at my scar (as well as my dimpled thighs and rather large Kim K like derriere). But I seriously needn’t have worried. Because when everybody is naked you actually realise that in REAL LIFE everybody looks different, but also exactly the same. We all have boobs and vajayjays, willys and bums. Some are saggier, some are bigger, some tummies are rounder, some legs are slimmer. But who gives a shit. I walked out of that spa feeling 10ft high and could see for myself where that dutch confidence comes from.
*Word of advice- when picking a spa or sauna to visit I tend to always go that little bit further away, as no matter how confident I am I have zero desire to see my kids school teachers/bank manager/mother in law whilst we are both naked, and having to chat pretending like we’re not .