There’s been a decline of saunas in local authority leisure centres over the past few years. As budgets are squeezed they are often the first facilities to go as they’re seen as uneconomical and take up a lot of space. The only people bucking the trend are the Better Leisure Group who are doing a really good job of running leisure centres on behalf of local authorities. They often include a good affordable sauna in their leisure centres, under the title Spa London, including ones at Wimbledon, Swiss Cottage and Ironmonger’s Row.
It was due to the popularity of the Wimbledon spa that I ended up at the Putney Leisure Centre sauna (run by Places for People Leisure). I was in need of a Sunday afternoon sauna and my regular Wimbledon one had been booked up so I turned to the internet to find another local one.
I couldn’t find any photos of the sauna online so I wasn’t sure what to expect. When I found out that it was only £10, half the price of the Spa London ones, I thought there would be an element of you pay for what you get. And I wasn’t too wrong.
The sauna and steam room sit in a cordoned off area just next to the main swimming pool. The real down side here was that there was constant screaming from the kids dive bombing off the dive boards! Although I presume it’s a lot more peaceful during the week.
All the standard facilities are there though: a large sauna and steam room, cold shower, a Jacuzzi, drinking water and a resting area. Everything was just not quite how you’d like them though. The sauna room was not quite hot enough, the Jacuzzi was cold, and the resting area was half a dozen garden furniture seats. The end result is more of a functional rather than pleasurable experience, although the regulars were a friendly bunch.
Despite these niggles I think there is a lot to be said for an everyman sauna that is good value, doesn’t need to be booked and provides an experience akin to the concept of public bathing. I think with a bit more focus on the sauna element of the leisure centre this place could improve.
Summary: A solid functional sauna and good value but an underwhelming experience.
Overall sauna experience: Cold, Warm, Hot, Top Sauna!
Facilities: Basic, Standard, Excellent