During the research phase for our trip to the Czech Republic, I read about some of the spa experiences they offer. Specifically, beer spas. There were several, in fact, all across the country. This unique (though gimmicky) concept immediately piqued my interest.
Now I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the Oz and James TV series, where wine critic Oz Clarke teamed up with his buddy (and co-host of Top Gear) James May to tour around France visiting various wineries, in Odd-Couple-esque style. But in one episode they went to a wine spa, where they received grape-skin facials and soaked (rather awkwardly and hilariously) in a hot tub filled with grape extract. After seeing that, I was more than game for trying something similar. Finding a beer spa was just the experience I was looking for.
I ended up choosing one in the heart of Prague called Spa Beerland (Pivni Lazne in Czech). The photos on their website looked the prettiest. What can I say, I’m all about aesthetics, especially when shopping for a relaxing spa. Their website recommended booking reservations in advance, so I chose an evening when we didn’t have anything pre-planned and made a booking for the two of us. Mark wasn’t completely sold on the idea, not being a spa-guy. But he figured it might be fun, and the addition of unlimited beer consumption helped sway him.
The spa was conveniently located just a short walk from our hotel, which wasn’t something I had planned, it just turned out that way.
Just a few of the selling points of the beer spa included:
- unlimited consumption of beer while you’re there
- fresh, homemade beer bread included in the price
- private room
- optional sauna add-on (which I chose to include as part of the experience)
- open late in the evening, after all the stores and museums have closed
- gift shop selling beer cosmetics (which wasn’t needed in the end, as I found several shops in Prague that sold various beer and wine-themed creams and lotions).
As soon as we entered the reception area we checked in at the desk and were told our room was already prepared for us. We followed our hostess downstairs into the basement of the building, where she led us to the last door on the left. Just as we arrived, a fellow who had just finished his treatment emerged from the room across the hall, looking relaxed, refreshed and quite happy. It was a good sign for what was to come!
Our hostess showed us around the large brick-walled room, which was quite toasty from the fireplace. The room had three large tubs, but we would be using the one in the center. It was already filled with warm water.
There were three wooden buckets sitting in front of the fireplace, which our hostess picked up one by one and stirred vigorously with a long-handled wooden spoon, as she explained what was in each bucket: one had ground hops, one had malt, and the last had brewer’s yeast.
When I told people that we were going to a beer spa which offered unlimited consumption of beer, they all had the same image in their heads: the two of us, sitting in a vat of beer, with really long crazy straws, chugging our own bath water. And in my own mind I expected the water to actually consist of beer as well. But it makes sense that they wouldn’t just fill the tub with beer, since the alcohol wouldn’t impart any health benefits, and it might make you feel sticky afterward. They recommend that you don’t bathe or shower for a few hours afterward so your body can absorb the nutrients in the ingredients, so of course you wouldn’t want to dump a bottle of beer on yourself and then walk around like that.
So what sort of health benefits do they claim the ingredients have?
- From the hops: energizing, rejuvenating, skin softener. opens pores
- From the brewer’s yeast: vitamin B, skin hydration, smoothes wrinkles
- From the malt: proteins in both malt and hops make your hair feel thicker and softer – which is why washing your hair in beer makes hair look so shiny and healthy!
Our hostess proceeded to dump some of the ingredients into the tub, then she set the timer for an hour, the full length of our visit. We would have 20 minutes to soak in the jacuzzi, and we would know when to get out when the jets shut off. She wished us a relaxing visit before disappearing and closing the door behind her.
We had brought our bathing suits, uncertain of whether they would be necessary or not, but with the room to ourselves and little time to spare, we quickly stripped down and climbed into the tub, which had a seat on each end. As it turned out, it was a good thing we didn’t bother with bathing suits, because the mixture of ingredients left a thin layer of sludgy green goo around the edge of the tub.
Once we were settled into the nicely bubbling water, we poured ourselves some beer from the tap beside the tub.
In the beginning we mostly just got foam, but eventually the taps got working correctly. You get a choice of light or dark beer, Krušovice brand to be exact.
We weren’t in the jacuzzi for more than five minutes when Mark declared, “this is actually kind of nice!” Ahh, another convert.
After the soak, we climbed out and moved into the hop sauna. We didn’t realize it at the time, but there was actually a little hourglass bolted to the wall so you can tell how long you’ve been in. We went with the old “peer through the steamy glass at your watch on the floor outside the sauna” method. We stayed in the sauna for about 15 minutes, and man was it hot in there!
Once out, we draped the fresh white linens on the round barrel bed filled with wheat straw and laid down, beers still firmly in hand (and topped up). We grabbed the plate of fresh beer bread our hostess had placed by the bed and nibbled on it while commenting how comfortable the wheat straw bed actually was You wouldn’t think so to look at it. Though it was a bit overfull and made a mess on the floor every time we moved.
Our time was nearly up, so we reluctantly hopped into the shower (also part of the same room) and quickly got the remaining goo off. Although they recommend not to shower so you can get the best benefits, the thought of walking around with drying ground hops and brewer’s yeast on our skin wasn’t very appealing.
We dressed quickly and walked out into the hallway, where our hostess was waiting to greet us to head back upstairs. “Did you enjoy it?” she asked hopefully. “Oh it was lovely!” we assured her. Mark was especially surprised by how much he enjoyed the experience, and how relaxed he felt afterwards. Our only complaint would be that although 20 minutes for the jacuzzi and sauna are enough, we felt a bit rushed lying on the wheat straw bed. We easily could have remained there for another half hour just relaxing!
Once we reached the reception area, we saw a group of friends waiting for their appointment, and they were already helping themselves to the beer on tap next to the gift shop area! Had we known we could have had a pint before our appointment, we would have shown up earlier. Oh well. Maybe next time…