Traditional day spas or bathhouses have been used by cultures around the world for centuries. The act of bathing isn’t just about washing off the day, it’s a healing ritual that can “relieve mental and emotional stress”.

Modern day spas take many forms but the ones we’re referring to involve soaking in warm tubs, heating up in saunas and steam rooms, plunging into cold water and then repeating the cycle for several hours. We’re feeling relaxed just thinking about it!

The ritual is an institution in countries like Korea, Japan, Morocco and many parts of Europe where locals spend a few days a month, if not more, at a bathhouse. If you’ve been lucky enough to experience it, you’ll know why.

When you’re done, not only is your body the cleanest it’s ever been but the mind enters an intense state of relaxation that leaves you feeling totally rejuvenated. Very similar to the happy zombie feeling you get after meditation, yoga, a long massage or a good nap.

Bathing for better health

There are multiple health benefits of spending time at a day spa, according to Marie Claire’s beauty editor Lauren Valenti, such as:

  • Sweating inside a sauna opens up the pores, releasing excess water and salt
  • Soothing sore muscles. The steamy and humid environment relaxes the muscles and diffuses pain
  • Relieving stress. Saunas have been shown to help release stress-caused tension, which reduces mental function
  • Improving circulation. A day at the spa should increase blood circulation which is important for your body’s overall health
  • Boosting immune system. The heat essentially gives your body an artificial fever, which kicks your immune system into defense mode, fighting off illness
  • Losing weight. It won’t replace the gym but can help you to stay fit and maintain a healthy weight. One sauna session can burn a few hundred calories.

Traditional bathhouses aren’t for the bashful

If you want the real deal then expect nudity, but don’t fret, many traditional day spas have separate sections for women and men. Some don’t though, and you’ll be told off if you try to sneak around in swimming togs. Don’t let that scare you off, after a while you’ll adjust and it should feel normal.

They are a little tricky to find in Australia but there are some bathhouses in Queensland including:

  • Apollo’s Day Spa: a traditional Korean-style bath house in Wooloongabba
  • Aquarius Health and Medi Spa: a modern bath house with influences from Europe and Asia in Brisbane’s CBD
  • Lella Hammam: a traditional Moroccan day spa on the Gold Coast.

If you’re travelling some of the best we’ve found include:

  • Sauna Deco: an art deco day spa that’s been in operating Amsterdam for more than 30 years. A great place to decompress if you’ve been partying
  • Wi Spa: a traditional Korean day spa in Los Angeles that’s open 24 hours a day. Perfect for jet lag.