While Berlin embraces its reputation as a party capital, Annabelle Mallia sets out to uncover a more relaxing – yet just as decadent – side to the city.
Take a well-deserved break from sightseeing and indulge yourself from head to toe. BY ANNABELLE MALLIA
Sometimes, a vacation requires a little down time from all the sightseeing, gourmet dining, and club-hopping. Take the edge off with a day devoted to revitalization, both inside and out.
Get into the right frame of mind for pampering and step into a flotation tank.
Tranxx (Akazienstr. 27, www.tranxx.de), in the beautiful Schöneberg neighborhood of Akazienkiez, has the biggest in Berlin, where you can relax solo or with a loved one. The highly concentrated salt water replicates the buoyancy experienced in the Dead Sea and is heated to exactly 35°C (95°F), which blurs the tactile boundary between air, water, and skin. Combined with all-encompassing darkness and silence, the result is complete sensory deprivation, which aids in the release of stress and tension. Massages are available afterwards, or retreat to a "chill" cave for further relaxation.
Germany is renowned for its sauna culture, and Berlin is awash in venues to choose from. A personal favorite of mine is the architecturally impressive Liquidrom (Möckernstr. 10, www.liquidrom-berlin. de). The venue's centerpiece is a dimly lit concrete dome with heated salt-water pool and moon-like window above. Choose from a steam bath with humidity reaching 100 percent, a Himalaya salt sauna with an illuminated wall, the Kelo Panorama, and a Finnish sauna, where low humidity allows you to endure temperatures up to 90°C (194°F). Hourly Aufguss sessions (see opposite page) and alternating infusions, from honey to salt and fruity tea, are best capped off with a dip in the ice-cold plunge pool. Per German custom, swimwear is not allowed in saunas.
Once you're loosened up, take the relaxation a step further with a luxurious massage. Although these are also offered at Liquidrom, I recommend you head to the self-described oasis of tranquility in the heart of Berlin, Vabali (Seydlitzstr. 6, www.vabali.de). Oozing authentic Balinese charm, the wellness resort boasts numerous pools and saunas, dining, and an impressive treatment list. Classic massages, from deep tissue to aromatherapy, and more exotic holistic techniques, such as Hawaiian lomilomi and algae body packs, guarantee an antidote for the knottiest of shoulders.
HAIR & SKIN
Looking good is just as important as feeling good. At NIVEA Haus (Unter den Linden 28, www.nivea.de), one of the German powerhouse's two flagship stores, you can refuel with a spontaneous coffee and facial or other soothing body treatment. Cabins are also available for dual pamper sessions, as is the full range of NIVEA products.
Top off your radiant visage with a new coiffure. With eight salons citywide, Udo
Walz (Kurfürstendamm 29, www.udo-walz. com) has become a hairdressing institution. By age 18, founder Walz was already popular amongst Germany’s fashionistas for his updos, then went on to open his flagship Ku'damm store in 1986. Since then, he has styled the locks of superstars such as Demi Moore and Claudia Schiffer – and even Angela Merkel. Whether you book yourself for a special hairstyle or a make-up session, rest assured that you too will be treated like a star. Befitting of its stature, Udo Walz also offers hotel room service.
MANICURES & PEDICURES
The Shan Rahimkhan brand, renowned for its roster of celebrity clients, has just opened Shan’s True Beauty (Kurfürstendamm 195/196, www. shanrahimkhan.de) on the ground floor of their Ku’damm salon, offering makeup and nail services amid a boudoir interior of velvet furnishings. The Gendarmenmarkt location also features a bistro that serves sweets and Persian-inspired Berlin cuisine. The first-class beauty team at The
Alessandro Spa, housed within luxury department store KaDeWe (p. 27), spoils its clients with manicures and pedicures, hand massages, and nail styling according to the latest trends. A complete range of innovative skin care products, including Hands!Up, rounds off the service.
THE TOP-TO-BOTTOM PACKAGE
If organizing your own beauty and wellness appointments sounds anything but relaxing, book the "Pimp Me Up" tour offered by Berlinagenten (p. 39). The luxury tour agents will curate a program tailored to your personal needs and desires, facilitate access to Berlin’s most luxurious spas and wellness locations, and transform you inside and out. The basic package consists of a massage at one of Berlin's hippest hotels, a private nutrition consultation, or a personal presentation workshop. Transport, a private sightseeing tour between beauty stops, and beverages are all included in the package.