After visiting Scandinave Les Bains in the 375-year-old Port of Montréal, I left wondering… why isn’t there one in every city?
Located a stone’s throw from the St. Lawrence, within the original stone walls of Vieux (Old) Montréal, Scandinave Les Bains offers a luxurious urban spa experience. Guests are welcomed by smiling staff, who explain the spa’s features and the wristband system, which identifies you in the spa and provides access to your locker.
I found the locker rooms clean, and well appointed. Guests receive hooded robes (my personal favorite), two towels and sandals according to their foot size – a nice touch. Once inside, the gentle lighting, soft music and sound of water combine to create an idyllic backdrop. Sound plays an important role at Scandinave Les Bains, where silence is requested to enable guests to lose themselves in the sounds of water without being distracted by conversation.
Guests planning to receive massage complete their intake forms at this time, while those planning to experience Les Bains must now decide which part of the spa to experience first.
The Scandinave Spa experience follows three stages:
First, a body heating process dilates surface blood vessels, increasing circulation to the skin. Guests have three options: a eucalyptus steam bath (built as a beautiful circular Hammam), a two-tiered Finnish pine sauna or a hot bath (complete with waterfall). The objective is to cleanse the pores by inducing perspiration.
Next, a cool bath or cool-water rinse in a motion-detection shower closes the pores.
The final stage is a rest period that allows the cardiovascular system to regulate itself. This takes place in relaxation areas offering single and friends-size beanbag chairs. An uber-quiet lounge is also available for those seeking a quieter and more private rest.
Guests are encouraged to stay hydrated, and complimentary filtered water is available in reusable plastic glasses. The Juice Bar offers light snacks, nutrition and hydration. My Mangorifique Smoothie was simply delicious. Since all clients are dressed in swimsuits and robes, there is no need to carry cash; purchases are recorded with your locker-key wristband.
Your fellow guests are the life of Scandinave Les Bains. All are wrapped in hooded robes, floating from one treatment to another, or most commonly, in a state of rest; reading, sleeping or relaxing with their romantic companions. It is wonderful to be surrounded by people in such a relaxed state; far from the technology, ambiance and pressure of everyday life. I can easily see myself returning.
The Vieux-Montreal location is Scandinave’s fourth in Canada and their first foray into an urban setting. Hopefully it won’t be their last.
~ Craig Oliver, Editor-in-Chief, Spas of America