Back in November 2018, Bill and I celebrated our 16th anniversary in Baden-Baden. While we were there, we tried the all nude Friedrichsbad Irish Roman Baths. When we told people we were moving to Wiesbaden, they nodded knowingly, since Wiesbaden is known as a “spa” town. In fact, the best known spa in these parts is the Kaiser-Friedrich Therme, which is an Irish Roman bath hall, sort of like Friedrichsbad, only smaller, less crowded, and significantly cheaper.
I had reviewed Friedrichsbad on TripAdvisor and someone who read my review and travels to Germany often on business, asked me if I’d had the chance to go to the spa in Wiesbaden. I’m sad to report that although Bill and I are quite assimilated to being naked in front of German strangers, today was our first time visiting. In fact, the TripAdvisor guy went to the Kaiser-Friedrich Therme before I did, and he lives in the United States.
Nevertheless, today was our day to go. Bill was, as usual, a little bit reluctant. Once we were there, he loved it as much as I did. One thing I like about this particular Therme is that not only is it historic, it’s also kind of low key. The facilities are on the old side and it’s not the biggest, fanciest, spa, but it has many historic elements. It’s also inexpensive and, at least today, not that crowded. I’m sure it fills up when the weather isn’t so beautiful.
This was the best I could do for photos. It’s a nude spa, so I wasn’t going to bring my camera in there.
The first thing to know about this spa is that it’s entirely textile free. Do not bring a bathing suit, because they are not allowed– EVER. In fact, there’s even a sign on the reception desk in English and illustrated with pictures of bathing suits with red lines through them. Do bring towels, a robe, and shower shoes. I usually bring two big towels and a robe, just in case one of the towels gets too wet to dry off with. If you don’t have a towel or a robe, you can rent them.
The next thing to know is that you can book packages or simply pay by the hour, settling up your bill on your way out of the spa. It was our first time, so we just went in, wearing the customary wristwatch one gets at German spas, and found a locker. You can choose whatever locker you want, change in the privacy of a stall in the unisex locker room, and use your watch to lock the locker. Take a quick shower in the men’s or women’s shower (which seems kind of silly, since everyone’s naked anyway), and make your way into the spa area.
The first thing you’ll see is the pool pictured below…
This iconic pool is pictured on everything advertising this Therme.
The Therme has a very small parking lot, so we parked at a garage a couple of blocks down.
You should know that the big pool is COLD. There’s a much smaller hot pool, which reminds me of a baptismal font, just behind the big pool. Save them for the end of your time. I noticed that this spa has a lot of the same elements Friedrichsbad has, only there are no “minders” telling you where to go or keeping the crowd going. Unlike Friedrichsbad, there’s also no obvious set schedule of activities, although they do post a suggested sequence in the cafe area. The list is in German.
Bill and I started with a quick dip in the freezing big pool, followed by a couple of sauna sessions. The first sauna was kind of mild and comforting, while the next was a much hotter Finnish sauna. We spritzed off in the “Eisregen” (ice rain) shower, then hit the two big “jacuzzi” like pools. One was heated at 37 degrees Celsius and had lots of bubbles. The other was 39 degrees Celsius and had very powerful jets that hit my lower back at just the right spot. I really enjoyed sitting in that tub, pounding the stress and pain out of my back and right outer hip.
Throughout the Therme, there are really nice loungers where you can have a rest. Be sure to put a towel down before you lie on the loungers or use the sauna. Next, we used the foot baths, then went into the “Lumenraum”, which is a very dark, quiet, room with loungers and twinkling colored lights in the ceiling. It was so nice to just lie in there and chill for a few minutes. I may have to find one of those loungers for home. After another session in the hot sitting pool, we tried one of the steam rooms, which didn’t seem to be operating properly. It was just very warm in the room; there was no steam. I left my shower shoes outside and regretted it, because the tiles were hot in there.
Then, we hit the big cold pool and the hot pool, then spent some time in the Tepidarium, which reminded me a lot of the one at Friedrichsbad, minus the crowds. We skipped a couple of the other rooms since they either appeared to be closed or beyond our comfort zone. I probably could have taken a freezing cold plunge after the Tepidarium, but I was so warm and cozy I decided I’d rather just hose off and get dressed. While we were sitting in the warm, damp room, I quipped to Bill that I felt like we were really “going native” with these nude spa jaunts. I don’t know what I’m going to do when we’re back in the States someday and I have to suit up.
One thing I noticed today was that it was not at all crowded in the Therme and there was plenty of room to try everything. We were finished within about two hours, feeling very relaxed and happy. The price for our two hour stay? Just twenty euros. The Therme does have a snack bar that serves juices, water, beer, and light snacks, but we decided we wanted to have lunch at La Cantinetta, a great Italian place we discovered a couple of months ago. I think the Kaiser-Friedrich Therme may be my favorite spa yet. No, it’s not super fancy or new, and it doesn’t have any deep pools you can do laps in, but it gets the job done at a reasonable price. Plus, the historic features are really beautiful and the place is very clean. I saw no children in the spa, which was a great thing. The atmosphere today was very calm and inviting, rather than akin to a souped up Schwimmbad.
Bill and I are very used to the naked spa experience now, but I understand that some Americans may be reluctant to try it. I can’t speak for everyone, but I have found that every time I’ve gone to a textile free spa, I stopped noticing nudity within seconds. Everyone is naked and, trust me, no one cares what your junk looks like.
When we were finished at the Therme, we made our way to La Cantinetta, where a saxophonist was playing for Euros. The waiters invited us to sit down. We got there about five minutes too soon. If we’d waited just a few more minutes, we could have had a table in the shade. Oh well… Here are some photos from our pricey, but outstanding, lunch.
La Cantinetta has an extensive menu, with pasta, pizza, and lots of beautifully presented Italian dishes.
I settled on scallops with tomato, bacon, chilis, and avocado… this was a pricey appetizer at 18,50 euros, but I was very curious about it. I’m glad I ordered it, because the scallops were done to perfection.
Bill went with the cream of asparagus soup. Seems that every restaurant in Germany has its own version, this time of year. It was very creamy, comforting, and a little sweet. We also had fresh pizza bread with a choice of garlic or butter. We went with garlic, but only ate a little of it because we knew lunch would be substantial.
Last time we ate here, there were fresh cut tulips on the table. This time, it was roses.
We had a slight lull in business. Maybe we should have moved up a table and gotten out of the sun…
For the main course, Bill ordered branzino (wolfbarsch– or European sea bass). They brought out a special shelf on which to debone the fish for him.
Expertly done… and the fish was excellent, as expected.
And nicely presented, too…
I went with sesame seed encrusted yellow fin tuna, served with sugar snap peas, mangos, avocados, and risotto. I could almost finish this, although tuna tends to be a bit too dry and heavy for me to eat a lot of. The sesame seeds added to the bulk of this dish. I loved the way it was presented, though. It, too, was rather expensive at 32,50 euros.
While we were eating, a German couple sat at the table next to us. The male half, who wore a striped polo shirt with a popped collar, asked in German what we were eating. I am proud to report that I was able to understand and respond. It turned out he spoke English, as did his female companion. They were nice, and had a good sense of humor as they observed the large Italian family sitting across from us. At least one of the guys in that group, too, had a popped collar.
Popped collars were popular in America back in the mid 80s, but they apparently never went out of style in Europe. I counted at least three or four guys with them today. I had to break Bill of the habit of popping his collar when we were dating. I guess old habits die hard. No offense to anyone reading this who likes to pop their collars. I once thought that looked cool, too. Kidding… really.
Anyway, we decided to finish up with the dessert special of the day, which featured the fruit of the season– strawberries. Feast your eyes!
Three little strawberry cheesecake cubes with fresh cut strawberries, dried, pressed strawberry “leather”, and a scoop of strawberry sorbet! We split it, and it was the perfect size. Bill especially enjoyed the crust, which was much like our beloved graham cracker style, though they tasted more like biscuits to me.
We enjoyed San Pellegrino– one large bottle and one small– and a couple of glasses of white wine with lunch. The first round was a pleasant Lugano that got a bit warm in the intense May sunshine. The second was a Sauvignon Blanc. The waiter opened a fresh bottle for us and then suggested it to the Italians sitting across from us. I noticed two other tables bought whole bottles of the same wine, which the waiter initially seemed surprised I’d asked for. The waiter, by the way, was really cute and reminded me of Ray Reyes of Menudo fame back in the 80s.
Our total bill came to about 130 euros before the tip. I’m glad the Therme was so cheap today. La Cantinetta can be expensive, although they have plenty of more pedestrian dishes that aren’t expensive. A person won’t go broke having pasta or pizza, for instance. I do enjoy their more gourmet offerings, though, and their waiters are very charming and professional… and good at upselling.
I can definitely see us making a habit of visiting the Therme on Sundays. That was a real hit for both of us! I don’t know that it’s always as “chill” as it was today, but we really enjoyed ourselves.
Tomorrow, we venture to Cologne for yet another concert, so my travel blog will get some extra love this week. Stay tuned!