Lost Horizon at Battersea


The UK’s answer to a Native American Sweat Lodge pitched its yurt in the backyard of the Magic Garden pub in Battersea in March 2016. ‘The Lost Horizon’ is a touring community that create a ‘festival within a festival’ at festivals like Glastonbury but for the first time brought their collective to a different kind of venue.

At the centre is a yurt, heated by coals, that seats about 20 people in a circle. The yurt heats up to provide a gentle sweat that was a lovely reprieve from a chilly March evening. Basic but good facilities are provided in the shape of a changing shed, cold shower drinking water in the yurt and a couple of chairs where massages were available.

But what really makes this sauna such a great experience was the people and vibe. A good balance of ages, races and gender created a convivial community and atmosphere. There was good chat, alongside a bit of chanting and yoga. It was probably the liveliest sauna we’ve been to, and that may not be to purists’ tastes, but I think that just reflected that it was a Saturday night, in a pub garden, in Battersea, so it completely worked. I understand that it’s a bit more mellow at festivals but the vibe is the same.

It was so popular that it was standing room only at some points (making a big difference to the temperature), which also added to the buzz.

I think the popularity really shows that there’s a big demand for authentic (i.e. naked and with a focus on the sauna experience) sauna in the capital. There’s very few options available for those who enjoy saunas as they should be, in the UK generally and London is no exception.

Beyond the sauna the Lost Horizon crew had created their own mini festival feel with a fire, some impromptu music, and cool decor and characters – including the Lost Horizon goblins! In the pub there were also some great bands playing. It really did provide a slice of festival life and it felt like we were a million miles away from the council estate we were surrounded by!

We really hope that the Lost Horizon peeps come back to London soon and ideally set up a residency!

We’re planning on catching up with them again at Glastonbury in June. Can’t wait.


Overall sauna experience:   Cold, Warm, Hot, Top Sauna!
Facilities:   Basic, Standard, Excellent
Cost:   £££
Summary: If you can find them then you’re in for a treat.

One thought on “Lost Horizon at Battersea

  1. Hi again

    Yes these festival saunas are fantastic. And what’s interesting is that with these festival saunas, the vast majority of people use them how they should be done – NAKED and without any clothing! Not only that, but there’s a fairly balanced mix of sexes and ages, and a fair number of young adults. Similar to the sort of mix of people you’d typically get in the (textile-free) spas on the continent. Allmost un-British like really!

    It is a shame though that from my observations, of the TWO(yes just TWO!) unisex clothing optional or textile-free spas in the UK, the mix of people is very very different to what you’d typically find in the festival saunas. From my numerous visits to Clover (Naturist) Spa in Birmingham, it’s generally a mix of men on their own and couples, ages generally between mid 30’s to 60’s, and most people who go there are true naturists. And allthough I’ve only been to Naked Hands (Naturist) Spa in London just the once so far, from what I read it’s generally mostly men visiting on their own, and occasionally some women visiting with their partner. Why can’t these two spas have a better mix of sexes and ages like you typically find at the festival saunas? Well it doesn’t help really that these two spas are branded as “naturist” spas!! Most people in this country are not naturists, and this will put off a lot of people visiting these spas as they think they are spas especially for true naturists. Yet using saunas and steam rooms naked is absolutely nothing to do with naturism! Not wearing any clothing in such facilities is how it SHOULD be done in this country like it is in such countries as Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, etc. If these spas dropped their “naturist” branding, then perhaps just perhaps a better mix of sexes and ages would start going there, and more general spa users rather than mostly naturists! Allthough Clover Spa is an established naturist spa and hotel, and I don’t think the proprietor and manager would want to do that. But Naked Hands Spa is just a spa, and I think if they dropped their naturist branding and it wouldn’t do them any harm.

    What’s also needed though is more UNISEX clothing optional or textile-free spas opening across the UK. And like I say, which are NOT branded as “naturist” spas! We need to have more spas which offer the PROPER spa experience here in the UK, which is not wearing any clothing in the facilities and in pleasant respectable unisex environments. We need this sort of spa etiquette and experience to become more mainstream in the UK, rather than just restricted to just a couple of “naturist” spas which the vast majority of non-naturists are not interest in visiting.

    Also a step forward a little in the right direction would be spas losing all their “please wear swimwear at all times” signs, and instead even if they don’t allow people to use the facilities naked and uncovered, to at least fully permit people to wear just a towel around themselves rather than swimwear. Because as the vast majority of spas have these “please wear swimwear at all times” signs, pretty much everyone observes that and wear swimwear. Very very rarely do you see anyone in unisex spas in the UK wearing a towel around themselves instead of swimwear.

    Apparantly so I’ve learnt, that back in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s(before I started going to spas unfortunately) in UK spas, most people wore just towels around themselves rather than wearing swimwear. Not only that, but during that period it was somewhat more commonplace for unisex spas to have a clothing optional policy, or at least have clothing optional sessions at certain times of the week. There were even a number of unisex spas which had a “textile-free”(no clothing allowed) policy. Such as the Unit One Sauna Club in Tunbridge Wells back in the 1970’s. Take a look at this archive newspaper article about it http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1310&dat=19710602&id=dckTAAAAIBAJ&sjid=PuEDAAAAIBAJ&pg=4559,302639

    It seems back in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s here in the UK, it was a MUCH better period to be able to enjoy spa sessions how they should be enjoyed – naked and uncovered! Since the turn of the 21st century, things have very much gone downhill. And sadly, I can’t see it realistically going back to more like it was in those good ol’ days.

    But at least here in the UK it’s still possible to use saunas how they should be enjoyed(naked and uncovered!) at these fantastic festival saunas. But unfortunately with the festivals only taking place during the Summer months, and the fact the festival ticket prices are expensive, these festival saunas are not exactly saunas we can go visit frequently throughout the year.

    Glastonbury Festival is taking place right now as I type this. And I SOOOOO wish I could be there to enjoy numerous sessions in both Sam’s Sauna and Lost Horizon Sauna during the 5 days the fesival is on!


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