Love the deliciously relaxing feeling of time standing still, while your face & bod’ hopefully are getting a time rewind? Join me in my quest for Berlin’s best green SPAs.
I think the idea of starting this new series called Berlin’s Green SPAs (#BerlinsGreenSPAs on Twitter) occurred because using my series about the city’s green/ish hot spots Things To Do In Berlin would be waaaahaaaay too repetitive if I started writing about SPAs and beauty institutes exclusively.
Berlin is home to many truly excellent sustainable hot spots – innovative vegan supermarkets Veganz, the amazing first ever zero waste supermarket Original Unverpackt, organic and vegan restaurants, ethical fashion designers, fair fashion boutiques, you name it – and also to a few lovely green SPAs which I’ve explored a while back and will be exploring again in 2016.
Now, what does a gal like myself expect from a green beauty heaven?
1. Great service;
2. Outstanding hygiene;
3. Excellent green’n’clean products;
4. Easy-to-get-there location;
5. Pleasing interiors;
6. Reasonable price list;
7. More than just a massage menu – skincare treatments, face & bod’, are highly welcome.
Any additonal perks are highly welcome.
Susanne Kaufmann is an Austrian brand devoted to natural, holistic skincare and although they don’t position themselves as such, I’d say “soft” aromatherapy. The products are pretty efficient, created by a team of pharmacists and dermatologists. The ingredients are mostly organic and locally grown (hello, Bregenz Forest) or from sustainable sources. Signature beauty treatments are developed in the brand’s own SPA at the Austrian Hotel Post Bezau.
The brand’s been on my radar for quite a while but I’ve only tried some products, and sporadically so. Susanne Kaufmann used to have a SPA of their own in Berlin, but now the only place in Berlin to buy SK products or to get the brand’s signature treatments is the design hotel Das Stue.
Das Stue is a member of the design hotels group, a lovely luxury boutique hotel located in Berlin Tiergarten, with the main entrance overlooking the eponymous park, and the outdoor terrace adjacent to the Berlin Zoo. Eclectic interiors by Patricia Urquoia bring an edgy, modern, yet patina-kissed cosyness into the classicist framework of the original 1930s building (by KaDeWe architect Johann Emil Schaudt) and amalgamate it beautifully – and effortlessly – with the brand new building added during recent reconstruction work. Some of you’ll know I do have a taste for luxury, but I like it real, I like it informal, and I don’t like “untouchable” luxuries. As in, “don’t eat from that plate, don’t sit on that chair, please acquire a title of nobility before shopping with us” – such people can’t have my money. Das Stue, by contrast, has the energy of comfort and quietude; it’s an approachable star.
From the centre, clockwise: the daylight indoor pool as seen from the door; the lobby with the crocodile sculpture; copper details; the pool from the other side (spot the sauna, top left); the health questionnaire; big-eyed me taking a veritable selfie; the cosy darkness of the treatment room; art everywhere, here sans animals; bye-bye Das Stue!
A guest entering the impressive lobby is greeted by the broad smile of a life-size bronze crocodile (I chose to declare it a smile) by Quentin Garel, and let me tell you this: animals will literally jump at you everywhere in the Stue in the form of figurines and designer furniture and other artwork which is rather splendid. A SPA guest takes the lift downstairs and enters the realm of beauty.
Upon entering the SPA, you are bathed in indirect sunlight coming from the beautiful indoor swimming pool framed by numerous lounge seats and chaiselongues. You are requested to change into a dressing gown and slippers, and then to fill in a health questionnaire.
Unusual touch: Susanne Kaufmann treatments happen in solemn stillness. Of course the therapist will talk you through the treatment, and suggest products, and answer all your questions, but there is – oh heavens, finally – no music. Yes, no music whatsoever. No whales crying, no kitschy fake world music. Just quiet. What a relief already. Clients can listen to their own music if they like but honestly…why would you?
The treatments I chose prove both excellent. The facial treatment leaves my skin glowing as if lit from within. The accompanying massage makes my neck supple, and my desktop-tormented shoulders sing “I believe I can fly” (and as we all know – flexible, supple neck and shoulders are your ticket to a glowing complexion). The Shirobyanga warm oil scalp massage is not the original one, meaning you don’t swim in oil, but the sesame oil leaves my scalp soft and beautifully clean. As I notice during following weeks, the hard Berlin water doesn’t cause any itching for a good while after the treatment. I also buy a few products – but that’s a different story.
1. Great service: YES;
2. Outstanding hygiene: YES;
3. Excellent green’n’clean products: a less enthusiastic yes because I’m an ingredient spoilsport;
4. Easy-to-get-there location: YES;
5. Pleasing interiors: YES;
6. Reasonable price list: well, it’s an upscale brand’s SPA in a luxury hotel. Facial treatments start at €86, a basic mani costs €50, however, sport massages start at €45. It’s, errr, mildly reasonable;
7. More than just a massage menu: YES.
+ Tip for runners visiting Berlin:
hotels located around the Tiergarten park will often have a (downloadable) jogging map.