Sean Connery in Diamonds are Forever.

THERE’S A SOLID chance that if you live or work in a gentrified slice of any Australian city, you’ve walked past some kind of fancy recovery centre in recent times. And while ‘recovery centre’ is a broad term – infrared saunas, hot and cold, compression therapy all fall under its umbrella – there’s a specific type of unwind-and-recharge space that seems to be the unwind-and-recharge space de jour. And that’s the bathhouse.

Bathhouses are pretty much what they sound like: buildings where people can bathe. It’s an ancient ritual, with countries from Turkey (which has the traditional hammam) to Korea (where heated rooms called jjimjilbangs are the place locals go to unwind) having embraced communal bathing for thousands of years. But like many ancient rituals that our contemporary wellness culture has rediscovered, in Australia, bathhouses have been given a sleek upgrade. At places like Sense of Self in Collingwood, Melbourne, and Sydney’s newest addition to the bathhouse scene, Capybara, you can expect to unwind in a serene setting with fancy body wash in the bathrooms and merch in the lobby for you to purchase as you leave with a freshly brewed cup of herbal tea.

With the growing body of evidence championing the effects of getting hot and cold – on everything from athletic recovery to overall longevity – bathhouses are definitely here to stay. And as for those of us inclined towards health and wellness while not necessarily wanting an experience plucked straight out of an episode of Huberman lab, they are the perfect answer to a restorative time.

This new generation of design-conscious entrepreneurs are building bathhouses that combine the health benefits of an enduring wellness trend with a far more lush, curated vibe. Some borrow from bathing experiences that have been central to cultures across the globe for centuries – Japanese Onsens are another world-renowned bathing ritual. Others are applying their own new spin on a millennia-old communal ritual, bringing timeless bathing experiences together with modern sensibilities to create something thoroughly unique in Australia’s ever-evolving wellness industry. Here’s a selection of our favourite bathing spaces across the nation, both new and old.


Ground Floor/235 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills, NSW

The excellent name aside, Capybara is the most exciting new bathing concept in Sydney right now, embracing the communality of bathing and packaging it in a space that takes its aesthetic cues from the opulence of classical antiquities. The space boasts a lush 38°C mineral pool, steam room and a 90°C hot stone sauna, and while all the experiences here are shared (don’t worry, swimmers are mandatory), the number of bathers is carefully managed to foster a sense of community, rather than crowding.

Casual passes from $65 (90 mins)

Inner Studio

INSTAGRAM | @innerstudioaus

Warehouse 9/5-11 Campbell St, Collingwood, VIC

Inner studio is the brainchild of AFL alums (and siblings) Will Slade and Ben Sinclair, who took a disused Collingwood factory and turned it into a bathing space worthy of elite athletes and aesthetes alike. Hot and cold exposure are given equal importance in this lush, leafy indoor space, with plunge pools and saunas both in ample supply, while the studio’s team of trained teachers host a weekly schedule of yoga and breathwork sessions inspired by the work the brothers did to keep their bodies and minds fresh.

Casual passes from $45

Sense of Self

INSTAGRAM | @sos.senseofself

30-32 Easey Street, Collingwood, Victoria

Opening in 2021, Sense of Self was a pioneer on the Australian bathhouse scene, offering Melbourne’s inner-north crowd a place to retreat to all year round, but let us tell you: it’s a particularly dreamy space to melt into on a freezing-cold winter’s day. It’s ‘Sud and Mud’ ritual is popular among SOS regulars; for $35 (on top of the session price), you get a dry mud mask and kessa glove, which, according to the bathhouse, gets you “steamy, suddy, muddy, and leaves you squeaky clean”. As you can probably tell from the photograph above, it’s also a beautifully designed, light-filled space with greenery quite literally dripping from the ceiling. There’s also a massage studio above the bathhouse, so if you’re in need of some serious rest and recovery, we recommend visiting both floors.

Weekday bathing from $65 for two hours; weekend bathing from $75 for two hours.


Bath Houses

Mermaid Beach & West End, QLD; South Yarra, VIC; Bondi, NSW

So much more than just another wellness chain, Soak were the first to provide an on-demand bathing service targeted at busy professionals looking to unwind, offering all the trappings of a luxury gym accessible to anyone. This isn’t to say the facilities aren’t immaculate and numerous, with a bevy of saunas, mineral pools, thermal baths and cold plunges available to visitors across its growing number of locations. Just the two Queensland locations are open at the time of writing, but new Soak spaces are set to arrive in Sydney and Melbourne later this year.

Casual passes from $35

Crown Spa

Bath Houses

Barangaroo, NSW & Melourne, VIC

In news that will shock no one, two of Australia’s most famously opulent hotels are also home to some of the nation’s most indulgent day spas. Where most hotel spas fall short of the full bathing experience, Crown Spa delivers, particularly in their bathing-focused Aqua Retreat, which boasts a vitality spa pool, steam room, sauna and Swiss shower.

Casual passes from $105

The Bathhouse Albion

Bath Houses

64 Nariel St, Albion

When Brisbane’s Bathhouse Albion opens this month, it will be among the most luxurious bathhouses in the world, let alone Australia, with seemingly no expense spared to build a space dripping in fine marble and clad in pristine timber. The bathing menu available to guests is vast, with a heated vitality pool, 12° cold plunge, 6° ice bath, tiered steam room, float room, traditional sauna, Finnish sauna and infrared saunas all freely accessible in a space free of phones and deliberately managed to ensure intimate session sizes.


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