Dutch Wellness Centers // Date Night
We did not discover the Dutch Wellness Centers until we had been in the Netherlands for a year. My first visit was when my best friend visited in March and we did a girls night. Since then it has been a go-to favorite for date nights (and girls nights).
Dutch Wellness Centers are facilities full of hot and cold pools, saunas, steam rooms, treatment options and typically a restaurant or two. They are traditionally nude (more on this later), but many offer a bathing suit night once a week. The facilities do not allow photos, so I’m limited to photos provided by the facilities.
In order to make this experience more approachable I’m going to try to answer all the questions I had before my first visit.
What To Bring
Pack a small bag to bring with you to the spa. You’ll want to pack:
- Two towels – one to sit on in the sauna and one to dry off with at the very end
- A bathrobe – you’ll wear this when walking around the spa
- Flipflops- you wear these when walking around the spa
- A water bottle – we like to take ones that are slim and fit in the pocket of the bathrobe or that have a handle to hang onto
These items are also available to rent from the facility.
What You Do
When you arrive you check in at the front desk. You pay your entry fee, or hand in your ticket. (Typically purchasing in advance saves you a couple Euros.) You receive a bracelet that operates your locker and also serves to pay for any food or additional services.
Head into the locker room and get a locker. Some places assign you the locker at check-in and others have a little computer where you get your locker number. Change out of your clothes and into your robe (or swimsuit on swimsuit night) and flipflops, grab your water bottle and one towel and head out into the spa. You are not allowed to bring your cell phone into the spa so lock it up in your locker. (We always leave the babysitter the number to the spa in case there is an emergency since we know we won’t have our phones with us).
Stop at the showers and rinse off. The Dutch are fastidious about taking a shower before entering the spa facilities, so make sure you follow suit.
Each spa facility will have a place to hang your robe and leave your flipflops. You bring your towel into the saunas to sit on. It is fun to try out all the different types of spa facilities. If you don’t like one you go into, just leave. We’ve found favorites at all the places we’ve visited. (Don’t worry we will share those with you below.)
If you want some down time all of these facilities have relaxation rooms with comfy chairs where you can read or take a nap. There are also restaurants and bars for you to grab some food or a drink. It makes for a very complete trip.
When you have had enough you head back to the showers. I like to go to my locker and grab my extra towel. All the places we have visited had salt scrubs to use. Scrub yourself raw and rinse off, then dry off and head back to the locker room to change.
Bathing Suit Night, Ladies Night and Your Birthday Suit
Some of the spas offer bathing suit nights where you are required to wear a swimsuit. This is a great option if you’re worried about baring it all. We’ve found these nights attract a non-Dutch crowd.
Almost all the spas also offer Ladies Night. These are always naked nights but limit the guests to ladies only. My expat friend and I gave one of these a try for our first naked spa experience with great success. It was a wonderful way to get used to the idea and realize that no one is looking at you.
Naked night is an adjustment, but once you get used to it it’s actually quite nice. The spas are a bit quieter and guests are primarily Dutch. I was a bit weirded out at first, but quickly got over it. You wear your robe when you walk between facilities, so you are really only naked when sitting in the pools and saunas. You will see bodies of all shapes and sizes. Overall I think it is a very body positive experience.
In addition to the included spa facilities the wellness centers all offer treatments you can pay for. They range from the typical massage and facial to more exotic Hammam or Ceylon Scrub.
You can also participate in special guided rituals that are held throughout the day.
Where to go & What to try
Elysium is the largest option near us and the one we tried first. They are always offering deals so check it out online and book early. We love the salt pool at Elysium – love it. We actually talk about it all the time. Jeff really gets a kick out of being able to float so easily. You also won’t want to miss the Lavender Sauna, which overlooks a little pond and smells amazing…unless you don’t like lavender in which case skip this one. I also love the pink salt sauna. Elysium tends to be crowded. You won’t have any area to yourself, but it is still a lovely experience. The restaurant food is nothing special, but fits the bill when you need a snack. Bathing suit nights are on Mondays.
Thermen Holiday is smaller, closer to Rotterdam and owned by Elysium. Its facilities won’t wow you if you’ve been to any of the other Dutch spas, but it still provides a wonderful getaway. We loved the Sandalwood Sauna. Its smell will relax you. The Hobbit Sauna is infrared, which has so many positive benefits you literally feel better sitting in there. We did not try the restaurant here. Bathing suit nights are on Tuesdays.
Centre du Lac is a smaller local find that we love. You can bike there from Delft, which in good weather is a lovely way to start and end your spa visit. Jeff arranged for a duo of mini treatments for my birthday and the massage and facial were both amazing. The spa is small and low key, so you can’t help but feel relaxed here. You won’t want to miss the ice cave, the perfect way to cool down after some time in the sauna. The Finish Sauna has lounge swings, which is a really relaxing experience. The Loly ritual, where you are fanned with hot air to build tolerance to the heat is amazing. (Performed three times a day.) The restaurant food exceeded expectations. They do not have a bathing suit night – but you should still go give it a try
The winters are long, dark and wet here in the Netherlands, but all of that melts away with some spa time. You’ll appreciate the cool Dutch rain when you’re exiting the hot tub. It is the perfect way to spend time with your girlfriends or for a date night. I love that there is an activity that is fun, new and provides time to actually chat. Beats a movie date for sure!