Oh, Aire de Barcelona, you treated me so well! Whilst on holiday, a little excursion by myself to Barcelona (more on that later), I had to take part in some indulgent solo pampering, so I headed for Barcelona’s popular and beautifully traditional spa, Aire de Barcelona. Situated on the central street, Passeig Picasso, which runs opposite the lovely Parc Ciutadella gardens, it was an easy walk from where I was staying in Barcelona’s characterful Old Town.
I was advised by the lovely lady, Vicky, who I was staying with, to book early rather than head there on the day because it was very popular with both tourists and Catalonian people alike. And a wise decision it was too. I visited on Thursday evening and booked in for their only available session for the next night, 10pm till 12pm, opting for a fifteen minute massage alongside the general use of the small yet perfect baths and steam room.
The spa offers various different packages starting with a modest entrance fee for the spa only, at 29 Euros, a mere £23. Having a massage bumped my price up to 44 Euros, and the prices scaled steadily higher with other offers of massages on hot marble and extravagant water rituals.
Upon entry to the Hammam baths with my fluffy white spa robe and get-me-wet slippers I was wonderfully impressed. The entire place has an air of calm, probably helped by the fact that silence is encouraged throughout the spa area, and it is lit by subtle pool lights and candle light, their warm glow reflecting off the sandy, exposed brick walls and arches. This made my solo pamper session even more comfortable as I could relax, alone, without groups of people chatting raucously beside me.
I was personally instructed, in hushed tones, which bath was which including the jet bath, the salt bath that would make you float gently, the infused steam room and, finally, the four different temperature baths. These, I tried first, leaving my robe on the side and sinking in in my bikini and slippers. (Actually, I initially removed my slippers to take the plunge, then realised that everyone else kept theirs on, so I scuttled, carefully, to the side to put mine on again… habit told me that one isn’t meant to wear slippers in the bath so how was I to know?). I moved between the different baths as instructed, the change in temperatures being beneficial for the skin and the last, the very cold 15 degree (thought it feels freezing) bath, revitalises and tones up your skin tissues. If felt like it was doing me the world of good!
The salt bath was lovely, though didn’t make me feel as feather light as I had hoped, and the water jet bath gave my back a good pummelling. I spent ages, slumped and slippery, in the sauna which gives off a satisfying puff of new steam every so often to top up the room.
Then, it was time for my massage. I haven’t had many massages in my life, but this Spanish one did remind me that it’s rather a hands-on experience. An enjoyable one though, of course. I entered and a tall man (who looked a little like an Avatar… though not blue, obviously) laid out the table for me and stood at the top end. He said nothing, clearly taking the spa’s vow of silence very seriously. I looked at him, feeling a little un-introduced given how familiar we were about to get, so I just pointed to my head and then pointed to the cushion with the hole in it in front of him, and hmm’d at him questioningly. He nodded. Great.
The massage was blissful and far too brief… because it was only fifteen minutes of bliss. I felt wonderfully relaxed and exited the little booth covered, head to toe, in glistening oil. I then enjoyed their tea which keeps warm in old, metal tea pots above candles. It is the best tea I have ever tasted; sweet and soothing, I drank pints of the stuff whilst sat on the stone benches feeling like a stretched out rubber band without caring how bloated I might become in my bikini. Who cares, it was dark and there were only about twenty people in the place anyway!
I will always remember Aire de Barcelona fondly and would highly recommend it to both budget and high flying travellers, solitary visitors and friends and partners. It is a truly charming and tranquil hot spot in Barcelona.
Images courtesy of http://www.airedebarcelona.com/