What can you do with a vacant piece of land that is not going to get developed for a couple of years? Create a swimming pond and pop-up sauna of course!
This was the thinking behind the creation of a bit of the countryside amongst a huge construction site in London, which will eventually include Google’s new HQ in the UK.
The site is called King Cross Swimming Ponds and is the UK’s first ever man-made fresh water public bathing pond. The ponds opened in Spring 2015 and during the winter months a sauna is also on site.
It’s an absolutely brilliant concept and must be completely unique in the world. Not only that, it’s an idea that is well executed.
Choosing to utilise this space to create a relaxing oasis rather than have as a construction site office is just a fantastic bit of urban planning. Cities are stressful places to live so anything that improves our environment and wellbeing is very much welcomed and encouraged.
It was my first time in a cabin sauna and it’s really is amazing the atmosphere you can create in a small space. Intimate and quiet, the sauna provides the simple pleasure of being in a well designed space. And one of the benefits of a small sauna space is that you can control the heat a lot more easily – when you put water on the coals you can feel the heat change instantly.
For a few people there the main attraction is the swimming pond. The 40 metre long pond is surrounded by wild flowers and grasses. Apparently the water is purified through a natural, closed-loop process process using wetland and submerged water plants to filter the water and keep it clear.
I have a new respect for people who enjoy pond swimming as the water was unbelievably cold! I couldn’t manage a long time in the water, but to have the contrast of temperature with the sauna was invigorating! This is as close as I’ve got to an authentic Finnish sauna. A cold plunge pool in a commercial spa just isn’t as complete as experience as jumping into a freezing lake!
The crowd was really mixed: some older ladies, a hen party, teenagers, and a couple of Russian guys. I think part of the reason for the wide mix of people was the cost – a 2hr session was £3.50! Unbelievable value. More of this affordable pricing should be available and it would get a lot more people trying a sauna.
The site and facilities are basic but clean and there are some nice touches. The changing rooms for example, offer a throwback to traditional seaside changing huts of old.
My only issue was that the sauna is only there in the winter months. I went in the last weekend of the sauna, which was disappearing at the end of April. NEWS FLASH: England is NOT a hot country! Getting rid of the sauna in April takes a very optimistic view of British summer! And the benefits of a sauna can be enjoyed all year round. Still, it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.
Is urban saunaring going to be the next big trend? I hope so.
Summary: Feel alive by getting back to nature in the middle of the city.
Overall sauna experience: Cold, Warm, Hot, Top Sauna!
Facilities: Basic, Standard, Excellent