The only spa in the world where comrade Lenin orders you to relax and enjoy the bubbles.
I’ve had a rather busy week at work this week and I could real use a relaxing spa day right about now. Since we’re still on lockdown in Slovenia, the closest I can get to one is to reminisce about a rather bizarre spa day I indulged in when I was in Sweden.
Soviet Union’s very own Vladimir Ilich Lenin is probably not someone you’d associate with a bubbly spa experience, but apparently he was a big fan of a certain bathhouse in St. Petersburg and even had a favourite, reserved sitting spot in a fancy blue-tiled bathing pool. The bathhouse continued to operate until the 1990s under the name The Lenin Baths and they even installed a Lenin bust next to his favourite pool. And so it came to pass that a Swedish man visited the bathhouse in 1983 and was so impressed with the experience, that he decided to recreate it at home. Except, he went really, really over the top.
So, there is now a quaint hotel in the city of Varberg on the western coast of Sweden and it has a Lenin Spa. Its name is hotel Gästis and for the price of 300 SEK (about 30 €) you can get a royal breakfast and a whole day pass for the Lenin Spa. Naturally, that’s exactly what I did.
The breakfast was the open buffet type and it was superb, even more than I expected from a 3 star hotel. From what I could see, the hotel has a nice, kind of vintage vibe and it’s located in an 18th century building in the centre of Varberg.
After breakfast I entered the blue-tiled, visually overwhelming and surprisingly cosy Lenin sanctuary. Since I was relatively early, I was alone in the spa for about an hour and managed to take some photos without disturbing other guests.
First off, there is Lenin everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. The entry charge includes a comfy white bathrobe with an embroidered Lenin profile and pink flip flops, which happened to match my toenail polish by accident, which in turn increased the surreal experience of being completely alone in a spa full of Lenins. Nonetheless, the spa itself is absolutely gorgeous and I really enjoyed it. The blue Lenin bubble pool is obviously the centrepiece, but there’s also a sauna, a cold bath, lots of relaxing foot baths and a fancy overhead shower that changes colours. My personal favourite was the meditative foot bath with pebbles.
Naturally, there are also two very chill break rooms with snacks and drinks and lots of books. I liked that the whole spa has a sort of distinct cobalt blue-tiled, art deco vibe mixed with communist statues and lots of mirrors – it all somehow ties together and feels lavish and fancy. They also really paid attention to the details. There’s an old timey Soviet poster in the toilet warning you to keep your mouth shut and an alcove with what I think was a statue of Marx.
The Lenin Spa
The whole place essentially looks like a crossover between a Lenin shrine and a parody and I absolutely loved it! If you avoid the weekends, the price is about reasonable for what you get and even though I was there in the summer it wasn’t crowded, at least not during the first half of the day. So, if you’re a fan of the weird and fancy a spa day with Lenin, this is definitely the place for you. For me it felt great to take a relaxing break in the midst of all the sightseeing and my feet were super thankful for all the foot baths after the amount of time spent in hiking boots.
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