Shortly before Christmas, countless things and deadlines on my mind. In the taxi on the way to the treatment appointment I pause and think. The plan to make this almost-over year less stressful and take more time for myself really took a back seat in the last few months. With my phone in one hand and a coffee in the other my thoughts once again return to unanswered e-mails and upcoming appointments, until the taxi stopped in front of Berlin’s Das Stue hotel.
Gray drizzling rain and the deserted Tiergarten in front of me, I get out with a strained neck and high expectations. In the hotel I take a few steps down to the house spa. I was warmly greeted and immediately feel at home in the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. It’s quiet and warm here. The color concept of the rooms is clearly aimed at creating calm: light gray, cream white and indirect lighting – the effect works for me.
Kim Külzhammer, the therapist who will be taking care of my well-being today, takes me – in a terrycloth robe and snuggly flip flops (yes, there is such a thing!) – into a treatment room. The dimly lit room, the background sounds (don’t panic: it’s neither Whitney Houston nor sounds of the sea), the calming herbal scent, the warm tea and the generous chaise lounge, waiting for me – it all tells me: relaxation will follow!
After a foamy footbath and a chat about the treatment that will follow, I lay back on the massage table and for the next two hours I barely want to change my position. Wrapped in a towel, I’ve scarcely closed my eyes and a warm towel is laid over them. Perhaps this is to say: they will stay shut! A spritz of pillow mist is misted over me – the delicate fragrance of lavender and spicy orange evokes memories of sleepiness.
Next Kim begins to massage my stomach, décolleté and arms with a dry brush. This, as she explained to me before the treatment, removes dead skin and stimulates circulation at the same time. The brush is really hard, on the border of almost hurting.
Up until now, other than quiet inquiries into my state of being, it has remained quiet in the room. After a thorough brushing, warm oil flows slowly over my body, from the feet up, and down onto the foil laid between me and the treatment table. I lay there, as before, with eyes closed, only knowing what’s happening because Kim explained it to me before. Doing nothing, making no decisions and not needing to understand everything feels foreign and wonderful.
It’s not possible to buy the cuckoo flower herbal oil, it’s only used in spa treatments. Kim wraps the foil around my oiled body and a towel around that. It takes a moment to get used to the wrap on my skin. Then it feels like being packed in sand, or how I would imagine it feels to be in a cocoon: tight, warm and cozy.
Dozing, I barely notice as Kim starts on my face. She cleanses with a mild milk. With a hot towel she washes the rest of the cleansing milk and grime away (damp, hot towels on the skin should be briefly highlighted here, they remind me more or less of the same feeling I have when rain patters on a window as I lie in a warm bed: pure well-being). This is followed by a soothing and clarifying toner. The moisturizing face mask, enriched with bees wax and hazelnut oil, is then slowly and evenly massaged into my skin, ensuring that in addition to my well-oiled body, my face is also receiving a good portion of care.
Freed from the oil pack, I turn over onto my stomach and Kim begins with the rest: massaging the remaining cuckoo flower oil into my skin. Before the treatment we discussed which body parts she should pay special attention to, for me, it’s my neck.
The massage table below is comfortably warm. Anyone who hasn’t fallen into a slumber yet will finally start to turn off. Blurrily, I see Kim’s dancing feet through the hole in the massage table, as she lifts them up and down as she moves around me, kneading my back and shoulders. It seems more like a funny dream – I’m so far away from anything that’s actually happening around me.
As a quiet bell sounds (a bit cheesy, but I’m not going to complain, I’m too relaxed!), I slowly come back to myself, and almost two hours have flown by. Another ten minutes before I convince myself that staying on the massage table isn’t really an option. A few sips of detox tea and I pull myself together. I’m briefly amazed by my soft fragrant skin as I pull on the robe and I move my heavy but relaxed feet back in the direction of reality.
Susanne Kaufmann’s cosmetics have a restrained scent and are gentle on the skin. Das Stue uses only the Kaufmann range of products for the treatments in their hotel. The ambient of the Kaufmann spas and the products from the Austrian brand, who swear by the healing powers of Alpine herbs, go well together.
For travellers and Berliners who need a break, the spa menu at Das Stue hotel leaves little to be desired.
Translation: Alicia Reuter
Originally from Hamburg, Julia Alfert moved to Berlin from Paris in 2010. After completing her studies in Art History and trying out different jobs, her path led her to Harper’s Bazaar, where she worked as Fashion & Beauty Assistant until mid 2015. While she’s harboured a love for all things beauty-related for as long as she can remember, her discovery of the written word is recent. When Julia isn’t busy trying out different creams, oils, and sprays she writes and styles for an assortment of magazines and websites.