When saunas go bad


The Swiss Cottage Thai Massage & Spa in London follows a well trodden path of dozens of legitimate massage venues in the capital to include a sauna on the premises. Relaxing the muscles through heat before and after a massage ensures that the benefits are maximised and is a great way to help ensure total relaxation.

Unfortunately for the Thai massage venues that decide to include an onsite sauna it means that they have to come up against the space premium and economics of renting property in central London.

It means that the very admiral ideal of having a nice sauna on the premises is usually an afterthought and incorporated onto the existing site at a later stage, which makes them pretty small.

Whilst pioneers back in the day, the owners who decided to include a sauna in the basement have clearly left it along time since they’ve invested in the venue. In short, it’s a pretty tired and grotty and the kind of place that you wish you’d brought some flip flops for. A Google review said that they saw cockroaches there – we didn’t see any but I can well imagine.

The changing area is tiny and many of the locker doors have been smashed in – not exactly putting you in the mind frame for a relaxing experience!

The sauna room itself isn’t bad. It probably has a capacity of 7 or 8 and there is tiered seating, coals and a water bucket to ramp up the heat. There is also a small steam room and a couple of showers. The relaxation area is small, with seating for about five or six. Drinking water is available. The photos below must have been taken when it opened..




The clientele, mainly middle aged men, seemed like regulars and they brought a friendly vibe to the place.

Having said that, it’s not the kind of place you want to hang around and enjoy a sauna session in. We did a couple of short cycles and headed out.

A few online reviews mention that the massages are good here but we didn’t have time to try them. Arguably, most people will be there for a massage, with the sauna thrown in for free, so their expectations might be lower. But even taking that into account this place needs more than just a deep clean – it needs a decent refit!

The main things going for this sauna is that it’s open 24 hours, which can be really useful as most other saunas in London shut at 8pm – making it really difficult to fit one in after work. The other is cost – at £10 this is as cheap as you’ll find in London. You also don’t need to book, which is a rare luxury for London saunas.

At best, this is a functional sauna that meets a demand from locals for a no frills sauna. At worst, this place would be shut down if it was a restaurant.

Summary: Steer clear unless you can’t find anywhere else open.

Overall sauna experience: Cold, Warm, Hot, Top Sauna!

Facilities: Basic, Standard, Excellent  

Cost:  £££

Website: http://www.thaimassageswisscottage.co.uk


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