Taking the plunge: The Copenhagen spa hotel where a dip into the freezing Baltic is a fabulous shock to the system
- Kurhotel Skodsborg is a stylish spa hotel a short hop north of the Danish capital
- It offers sauna experiences where guests are encouraged to jump into the sea
- Brave souls splash in the Oresund strait, which separates Denmark and Sweden
As the freezing waters of the Oresund close over my shoulders, I scream.
Or try to. All I manage is a gurgling shriek as the cold clamps my ribs.
It’s surely insane to use this Baltic strait as a plunge pool, but after 15 minutes in a sauna – especially when ‘sauna mistress’ Tina has tossed buckets of water onto the hot coals, upping the heat dramatically – cooling down seems like a good idea.
Retreat: The Kurhotel Skodsborg spa hotel overlooks the freezing waters of the Oresund
Tina Andersen runs the hot-and-cold ‘SaunaGus’ experience at the Kurhotel Skodsborg as a group class. And now winter bathing season is under way, there’s little excuse not to take the plunge. Though it’s not for the faint-hearted.
‘You are amazing,’ she exhorts. ‘Your mind is powerful. Use it to overcome the heat.’
Four of us follow her meekly, stupefied by heat, down to the sea, a two-minute walk from the hotel spa.
And then, wow! The water is so shockingly cold that it’s like being sliced with a scalpel. After just ten seconds, I scramble out, shrieking with relief, high as a kite on a rush of endorphins. The air is hardly warmer than the water, but it seems tropical by comparison and I feel invincible.
Making a splash: There is nothing quite like a bracing dip in the sea
The hot and cold shock treatment works wonders for the circulation, eases stiff muscles and promotes deeper sleep. What’s more, those endorphins help counteract depression — useful when it’s only light for around seven hours a day in winter.
The Kurhotel Skodsborg is a spa hotel on the outskirts of Copenhagen, overlooking the Oresund. It’s all cosy and ‘hygge’ with sofas, fireplaces and tiny candles on every table. The food is healthy and delicious – and, yes, alcohol is allowed.
The fabulous open sandwiches, or Smorrebrod, have avocado, or roast beef, piled high on ‘Paleo bread’ made from nuts and seeds, but no one is going to stop you enjoying the gooey brownies or cinnamon rolls.
Come on in, the water’s, erm, freezing: Alice takes her jump into the Oresund
The hotel’s classy gym is popular with locals and it’s only a 20-minute hop from the stylish shops of Copenhagen.
Tina runs two classes a day and they’re so booked up that her colleagues are now offering mini-SaunaGus experiences, for those who aren’t quite up for the full immersion.
Kurhotel Skodsborg double rooms from £161 a night (skodsborg.dk, 0045 4558 5800), based on two sharing.
The SaunaGus costs from £60pp for hotel guests. Norwegian Air International (norwegian.com, 0330 828 0854) flies Gatwick to Copenhagen from £56 return.