Sauna am Rhy

When I find myself in colder climes I tend to develop a craving for sweltering heat. The kind produced by a well-fed wood stove; the kind that blissfully gets under your skin and melts away the gloom of Winter. A sauna kind of heat.

While spending a handful of chilly December days in Basel, one of my first self-imposed missions was to search the neighbourhood in pursue of sauna. And that’s how I stumbled upon Sauna am RhySwiss German for Rhine; as in the very waterway whose gentle banks this overwater sauna and bathing structure is set upon. And what a fine discovery indeed. Having dilapidated over the years, the Rheinbad Breite (of which the sweat room is a part) has been saved by a well-meaning community initiative, and plans are underway to restore it to its former 19th century glory by the end of 2019.

During the Summer months, the steel terrace is used as a swim platform, a place to sunbathe and sip a drink on a relaxed Sunday afternoon. Swimming in the Rhine river has a long tradition here, and yes, even today its waters are perfectly clean and safe. During the Winter, most aficionados prefer to soak up a welcome dose of warmth before they can muster the courage to take the literal plunge.

While the sauna and change rooms are built into functional yet sleek shipping containers (this is Switzerland after all), what catches the eye are the three Nomad-style yurts that serve as common areas. Overlooking the rushing river beneath and the captivating cityscape in the distance, they are pleasant places to recover post river immersion, and to ponder before taking another turn.

While spending a handful of chilly December days in Basel, one of my first self-imposed missions was to search the neighbourhood in pursue of sauna.