Time Out

Steamy breaks: Oslo’s floating sauna trend

With spas moored along the harbour or floating on its waters, Oslo’s fjord sauna scene is worth the plunge

In 2011, Swedish bohemian Martin Lundberg sailed his houseboat into the Norwegian capital’s freezing fjord in search of a sauna to warm his bones from the sub-zero temperatures. When he found the Langkaia waterfront sorely lacking in spas, he recruited a local team to build a makeshift floating sauna from collected driftwood.

In 2016, Oslo Fjord Sauna was born, and it has helped kickstart a marine sauna trend to coincide with the city’s plans to spruce up the harbour. Now there’s a waterside or waterbound sauna for practically every day of the week – plus an ice-cold fjord to dip into afterwards, for those brave enough to take the plunge.

The mobile one

Its name might induce sniggers, but there’s nothing funny about Kok’s tempting combination of sailing and steaming. Each of the company’s five saunas also operate as boats with electric motors, meaning that sweating sessions can be combined with a cruise of the Oslofjord. For 2020, they’re launching ice-bathing courses inspired by Dutch extreme athlete Wim ‘The Iceman’ Hof, who touts the benefits of cold therapy. ‘We wouldn’t dare do this if it wasn’t for the steaming hot sauna waiting,’ co-founder Kristin Lorange assures us. 490kr (£41) per person on a public sauna cruise.

The designer one

The innovative Oslo Fjord Sauna opened its third floating steam room this month. Named Anda, meaning ‘duck’, it was designed collaboratively by three Oslo-based architect and engineering firms. This one takes the shape of a round amphitheatre – with a large window facing the lush Hovedøya island and a wooden swimming deck – and hosts weekly drop-in Aufguss sauna rituals. During these sessions, essential oils are poured on to hot stones, sometimes accompanied by music and (very sweaty) dancing. Look out for mussels hanging from the sauna’s underbelly, there to enhance the fjord’s biodiversity. 1,800kr (£150) for exclusive hire.

The extra one

‘Nomadic art project’ Salt arrived in Oslo three years ago after stints in Nordland and Bergen, a complex of pyramid-shaped structures that house art exhibitions, gigs, film screenings and no less than four saunas. Árdna is one of the world’s largest, with space for 100 and featuring an adjoining party bar. There’s the smaller, hotter Skroget and the private-bookings-only Naustet. Finally, Himmelsauna sits on a roof terrace overlooking the fjord and the city’s twinkling lights – it’s fitting that its name translates as ‘sky sauna’.
195kr (£16.50) for a sauna session, from 830kr (£70) for private hire.

The eco one

For Oslo’s youngest floating sauna fleet, every outing is offset by a good environmental deed. So while GreenBoats provides electric-powered boat saunas that set off from upmarket Aker Brygge, it also runs regular clean-up events around the city and its waters. Customers that collect plastic waste while boating get discounts, and there are twice-daily drop-in times for sauna sessions, plus aromatherapy and cold immersion. No licence is required – just an eco-friendly attitude as well as a convivial outlook on life in general. As manager Dean Hansson puts it: ‘The sauna is where people here tend to open up.’ 200kr (£17) for a drop-in session, from 2,500kr (£210) for private hire.

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