A few weeks ago (or a lifetime ago, depending on how you look at it), Matt and I went to check out one of Shanghai’s bathhouses.
Bathhouses are traditionally a staple of Shanghai life, and as I lay in a rose scented pool, my cold bones feeling warm for the first time in weeks (Shanghai homes don’t have heating), I understood why.
Last week we visited our second bathhouse. New Star are a whole chain of spas, three in Shanghai and three in Qingdao. We went to the branch nearest our house, just by the spaghetti junction at West Yanan Road.
From the outside, it looked like a hotel or similar. Once inside, we shed our shoes and padded downstairs. Matt and I agreed to meet in a little over an hour and off we went into the sex-segregated bathing area.
I stripped off and had a shower before getting into the nearest pool. Each pool had a digital display showing the temperature, and some had a sign with a description of the pool. I got in and started soaking.
In the ladies area of the bathhouse, there are 5 pools plus a sauna and steam room. There’s an area where you can go and get a scrub, plus lots of showers. There are individual toothbrushes so you can clean your teeth and everything.
I floated around in the pools and decided not to go for a scrub as I was so relaxed.
After an hour of soaking and washing, I got dressed into a pair of pyjamas and went to meet Matt in one of the relaxation rooms. This is a big, darkened room, full of recliner chairs with individual TVs. Lots of people were sleeping. Some were snoring.
We were quite peckish so we went to the Korean restaurant upstairs. Matt ordered a dish called “handheld devices”. This turned out to be a mistake, it was a pile of spicy gristle. We ordered again.
After eating, we wandered about the spa. There were three domed hobbit houses, each heated to a different temperature. 45 degrees was hot but doable. 73 was uncomfortable. People were sat about everywhere eating snacks and chatting, but not in the 73 degree dome, where a man lay prone on the floor. We realised that if you died here it might take a while before anyone realised.
Outside the domes were heated glass panels, where you could lie and toast yourself. Mine was pretty scorchio but I felt very relaxed. Maybe emoliation wouldn’t be a bad way to go.
After around four hours we felt duly relaxed and we got changed back into our normal clothes and retrieved our shoes from reception. Entry to New Star is 108 RMB (about £12) and food and treatments are on top. It’s a bloody bargain!
We walked home and had an icecream on the way from one of Shanghai’s many convenience stores. Relaxed, clean and happy!