The arrival of affordable, authentic Nordic saunas in London has been inevitable for quite some time. The 2020-2021 lockdowns may have slowed down this process in some aspects; but I can also argue the opposite. The pandemic has made more people conscious of their physical and mental health, and the hot-cold exposure of the sauna practice became more widely known as an immunity and wellness-boosting routine for consumers. I can imagine innovative business people have had the mental space and time to try new ideas, and finally seeing the fruits of their work – such as the saunas perched on a roof-top bar in Hackney, London.
The steam-thirsty sauna enthusiasts in London will definitely embrace the opening of Netil360. As an avid member of that demographic, I paid a visit to Netil360’s sauna on a warm evening in May.
We had booked the slow sauna experience for 2 people, which allows for 50 minutes of private sauna use and 30 minutes of rest in the lounge outdoors.
With my fellow friend Simon of Britain Uncovered, we climbed up the slightly unnerving stairs of Netil House in Hackney, until we reached the roof-top. There we found a cosy indoor bar, opening up to a large open-air terrace, brimming with people.
I must say that social distancing and general hygiene rules are taken pretty seriously here; so it is a safe place for those who are highly sensitive about the contagion.
At the end of the terrace, we have found the sauna area. A lovely young lady let us in right on the clock, not a minute before or after our booking time.
We found ourselves in a semi-private are, with all the facilities we need, such as the lockers, a changing room, a toilet, hot-water showers and cold-water showers. In between the two sauna rooms that may serve two groups at the same time, there is a shared area with fire pits, seats and refreshments. A very simple set up, completed with everything I need for a fulfilling sweat session.
Even though the roof is covered, one still gets all the benefits and thrills of being outdoors. And the clever design, I imagine, would block the fierce wind that most of us in the UK are so accustomed to.
The city view from the shared relaxing area as well as the sauna itself is absolutely beautiful. Best to visit this place on a bright or partially cloudy day to observe how the light plays with the urban landscape. This is not a secluded, serene spa in a hideout, disconnected from the rest of the world. Here I feel the heart beat of the city. I stand as a proud Londoner, overlooking rooftops, streets, railways and the people that give this city such a unique vibe. Here I feel connected to them. A much welcome thought after 18 months of physical and social distancing.
But leave the philosophical thoughts till the end…! Our lovely sauna master tells us we have about 50 minutes to use the sauna, and in the remaining time of our booking, we can stay in the relaxing area. I was surprised to hear, despite the fact that our booking was for 90 minutes, we would be allowed in the sauna room only for a bit more than half of that time. They use the remaining time in the sauna to clean it and make it ready for the next round of people.
If you are a sauna-addict that has been deprived from it for such a long time, you can imagine how disappointed I was. Suddenly, I felt I had to rush to make the most out of my sauna time, as I only have 50 minutes of it, including the cool-downs in between. And heaven knows, time flies when you are enjoying yourself.
Quickly, we changed into our swimming suits, grabbed our towels and entered the sauna we had booked. The sauna is beautifully built, and all its finer details are a treat on the eye that made our experience richer. The benches are higher than the stove, and there is a little stool for halflings like me to step on and climb on the bench. That little stool is probably my favorite detail from the whole place.
As we enter the sauna, the heat is perfect. It is between 80 to 85°C, and that is rare for a London sauna. I have always praised the sauna at the Porchester Spa as the most perfectly heated sauna in London (despite the fact that one can not make löyly / steam there) – but I can say that Netil360 has nailed it better than them. We were given a bucket and a ladle to pour water on the hot stones, with which we made our own steam. That is a big plus. There are no thermometers inside the sauna, so I do not know for sure, but with the steam it felt like we were above 90 °C in there.
Within those magical 50 minutes, we managed to have 3 rounds of sauna and cold shower breaks. As usual, my first round helps my body get acclimatized to the drill. The second round is pure gold, when my body sweats the most and the cold-shower impact is most intense. And the third round is the sweetest, as I am already high and glowing from the first two rounds, and there is not much in the world that can upset me at that point.
Our lovely sauna master was always there to make sure we are safe and that we know our way around the sauna. She also brought us jugs of lemon-water to make sure we stay hydrated.
At the end of three sessions, we enjoyed sitting by the fire pit, looking at the city, sipping our waters and letting our blood circulation slow down again. When it was time to get dressed and go, I was happy and fulfilled to have my sauna fix. It did not feel “slow” but it did feel damn good.
Thanks to Netil360 for bringing the sauna experience into the mainstream, and offering it as an alternative way to relax and catch up with friends. Maybe, the sauna will never take over the drinking and pub culture in this country, but having a sauna on a roof-top bar is a great first step to bring the two concepts together.
Cheers to connectedness. Cheers to public saunas.
P.S. If you want to read another review of Netil360, check out the Britain Uncovered review here.
Good to know
- Bring a swimming suit. And your own towels. Water is provided.
- Online booking is mandatory.
- Hygiene and Covid-19 precautions taken very seriously. It feels safe.
- The sauna is private to your group, therefore it is ideal for friendly catch-ups and candid conversations.
- No need to bring safety locks for the lockers.
- You can stay for drinks and food on the roof-top bar, if there are spaces available. If not, Mare Street Market right next door is a good alternative.
- Price: $$$$$