No ordinary spa, the Therme Bucharest is a vast temple offering pools, scented saunas and great-value wellness for all
Dozens of clammy bodies are crammed into the Alhambra sauna, waiting for … I’m not sure what. Then a woman places a ball of crushed ice on the coals, which releases delicious tangerine and grapefruit aromas as it melts. She uses a towel to waft the hot, fruity air around the room and makes “healing sounds” with a rainstick. She repeats the ritual with lemongrass-infused ice, then spearmint and eucalyptus. At the end, we all applaud, then rush out for a cold shower.
This is Aufguss (infusion), a Germanic sauna tradition championed by the Therme spa group. Therme opened its first spas in Germany in the 2010s but I am trying its most recent addition, Therme Bucharest in Romania. The country has a long history of mineral springs and thermal bathing, but nothing quite like Therme, which also has two spas under development in Asia, one in North America and, excitingly for Brits, one at Trafford City, Manchester, opening in 2022.