I’d been to the Mediterana before, a couple of times, most recently a couple of years ago – but I was not ready for what I found this time. To get the only downside over with, it is very popular. My party of friends arrived at 3pm on Saturday afternoon and we were told there would be a half hour wait for entry. Having taken the 20 minute ride out to Frankenforst on the tram line #1, the wait didn’t seem so bad, so we stayed.
The queue ahead of us only had 6-8 people but we were informed by the supremely helpful multi-lingual staff that the problem was they were full, there were no lockers available. As it turned out the wait was 15 minutes at most, and on entry another member of staff took you directly to an empty locker to save you hunting around. This level of customer service in extremis, when they are by definition at their most busy is highly commendable.
In all honesty I was a little anxious, not because of the nudity rules, I’m more than comfortable with the sensible attitude towards that, but because there are almost 1000 lockers available. I thought it would be uncomfortably busy. I needn’t have worried, in the few years I had been away the facilities had trebled in size. It was always a big spa; now it is vast. Even in winter it can comfortably accommodate being full to capacity, in the summer when the vast lawns that roll down to the Bensberger See – a lake that was iced over when we visited – are available to be used for sun worship it will feel almost empty.
It is simply amazing, and not for nothing is it regularly regarded as the best spa in Germany, it is an opinion I would echo, and I have now been to many. My sole criticism is that all the pools are just not quite warm enough to truly luxuriate in, with one exception. Beyond that, there are saunas of every conceivable variety, tepidaria, steam rooms, relaxation areas of every stripe, bars and restaurants to refuel in (and you’ll need it – you’ll want to spend time here) and plenty of places to bob around in water and cool down.
Echoing an earlier reviewer I was most astounded by The House of Elements in the new Indian area. It is a large room that seats 20-25 people around in a square. In the centre is a 5 foot square (simulated) open fire and below the wooden seating is a wading pool to dangle your legs into – I have never come across this before. Because it is a simple fire it’s not extraordinarily hot (the hottest saunas here are 100C) but a real builder, and it is such a pleasant place to sit that you don’t mind the time it takes one iota. Outside are quite the most violently cold showers I have ever experienced. A wide torrent of icy water plummets from the 4 metre double height ceiling to batter the heat out of you. Utterly refreshing, totally fabulous.
If you are spending time in Cologne, and don’t mind nudity (even if you think you do, it’s worth giving it a try), do not pass up the opportunity to visit the Mediterana, and be prepared to lose yourself, and lose a day.
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