With nine months to go until “I do”, RBJ and I are feeling pretty on top of the wedding plans: venue, photographer and caterers are all booked, bridesmaids and best men have been asked (and said yes!), wedding dress is bought and as of last Saturday, we have our ceilidh band. HURRAH! However there is still one big decision to make that I am very excited about and that is where to go on our honeymoon.
In my eyes, a perfect honeymoon will comprise of a bit of luxury and sunbathing, combined with some adventure, lots of good food and drinks and most importantly: lots of springs and saunas! So when researching honeymoon destinations, I thought what better place to start then with a simple google search:
But no, no, instead feast your eyes on where Google reliably informs me has “the best sauna in the world”:
Coral Reef is a kids fun pool with a pirate boat, flumes, rapids etc in Bracknell. Full of screaming children and the pungent smell of chlorine, its the kind of place that you had your birthday party when you were 11 years old and is as far as it gets away from where you might expect to find “the best sauna in the world”.
Considering Coral Reef is only a 15 minute drive from my mums house, in the interest of research, this week I went with my sisters, BigMac and CMcV to check it out.
We arrived at Coral Reef on a quiet Monday evening to the smell of chlorine and talcum powder. We paid our £11 entrance, were given green Sauna World wristbands and hastily changed in the swimming bath changing rooms. While Sauna World is in its own bit away from the pool area, guests still have to use the same changing rooms and showers which are pretty grubby.
After putting our belongings in the lockers, we made our way through to the saunas. There is no doubt that Sauna World is a total gem inside a very rusty shell. It has three large and immaculately clean saunas:
1. The Paradise Saunarium
Paradise Saunarium is the coolest sauna at a gentle 60 degrees. It is supposedly a more humid heat but I personally didn’t really notice that and thought it felt quite similar to normal saunas, just a little cooler.
2. The Tropical Sauna
Next at 70 degrees is the Tropical Sauna. This one is the smaller of the three and although it says it was meant to be only 10 degrees warmer than the Saunarium, the temperature gage said it was 80 degrees and it certainly felt that much warmer.
3. The Finnish Sauna
The hottest at a sweltering 90 degrees is the Finnish sauna which is by far (perhaps unsuprisingly!) my favourite. The Finnish sauna is one of the largest I have been in, with four levels of benches and room for at least four people to lay flat out on each level.
Sauna World also has a large two-tiered circular Japanese steam room, an eight person jacuzzi and an icy-cold pool for cooling off:
All of the saunas are in great condition and although they haven’t recently been renovated, inside they appear quite new. Similarly the steam room and pool are clean and well maintained. But unfortunately the exterior of the steam room and saunas could do with a bit of a refresh and the complex itself lacks any kind of “spa” ambience. With a few small touches, plus the introduction of its own changing and shower area, this could be vastly improved. I did find out on my visit that Coral Reef is closing in 2016 to have an 11 million renovation so we will have to wait and see what they do to Sauna World.
We had a great evening and came away from Sauna World feeling very relaxed. However I think it is worth noting that we went on a Monday evening during school term time and I imagine at the weekends or in school holidays the crowds of screaming children could detract from the relaxation.
CLEANLINESS: 4/5 for Saunaworld, 2/5 for the Coral Reef changing rooms
IN THREE WORDS: SURPRISING, AFFORDABLE, LOCAL