In the heart of Old Montreal, amid ancient buildings, museums, and a magnificent church, Scandinave Les Bains Vieux-Montreal brings a taste of European spa culture to Quebec’s charm capital.
Public baths are raised to a new level in a former warehouse. Built into what was once a storage building for the merchant marine, with natural stone floors, wooden walls, and a variety of baths, Scandinave Spa surrounds you with a warm glow. It’s a cure for tourist fatigue.
This watery urban escape on the waterfront in Montreal harbor has soaking pools, 11 treatment rooms, and – of course – saunas, plus space to chill out. But beware the slippery floors; with all that water on stone floors, wearing slippers issued with your robe is advised.
Taking the waters is multi-sensorial.. Changing into my bathing suit and robe, I emerge from the locker room to begin a circuit of hot and cold experiences. First the dry sauna, then a dip in the cold pool, followed by relaxation in the steam sauna. The main pool is full of young-ish people enjoying long soaks and a splashing massage under a waterfall.
The Scandinavian baths, with all its resulting benefits, occurs in three stages. First, relax in a sauna which dilates surface blood vessels, carrying blood to the skin’s surface. This is produced through a eucalyptus steam bath or Finnish dry sauna. After some profuse sweating, that cleanses the skin, the second stage consists of closing the pores of the skin; a cold shower, or dip in the cold pool, does the job. The final stage resets your cardiovascular system in the main pool.
Make the circuit, then head for your massage appointment. The therapist is serious about finding every aching muscle.
With a limited menu of spa services, (Swedish massage, hot rock, or lomi-lomi), this Eden in the Old City is open every day. And quite popular. Frequent visitors sign up for a series of visits. Best days to visit: Monday – Thursday, access to baths costs just $10; massage from $89.
Scandinave Spa has a country cousin in the ski resort area near Montreal, Mont Tremblant. Try both for a new take on bathing.
Photo used by permission of Scandinave Spa