The most secret sauna in Prague is at the National Theater. You can also enjoy opera while sauna
I wonder for a moment if this is all just a stupid joke. Imagine that you come to the gatehouse of the operating building of the National Theater in Prague and you will surely know that you are going to the sauna.
I expect the doorman to kick me out, but instead he sends me to the elevator with icy calm. Okay, maybe it won’t be a joke in the end. I go to the fifth floor, from where I climb two more floors under the roof, turn a little uncertainly into the hallway, where time stopped in the 80’s, knock on the door and – here it is.
The most secret sauna in Prague and also the sauna with the greatest genius of the place in Prague.
On the roof of one of the buildings of the New Stage by architect Pavel Kupka, which is the pearl of brutalist architecture in the Czech Republic, right in the center of Prague, there has been a sauna for 36 years, which you have probably never heard of.
All those years, only actors and ballerinas of the National Theater went to it, but this week, for the first time, already renovated and in a new guise, it also opened to the public from the street. But it has remained secret and its operators also want to keep it hidden from crowds for as long as possible.
“Well, you just have to look for a while. It’s such an inaccessible game and a bit of a mysterious club, which you can only get by invitation, “smiles Lukáš Otevřel, who together with his partners Miroslav Sládek and actor Stanislav Majer succeeded this spring in the National Theater tender, which for the then loss-making the sauna was looking for a new operator.
Of course, none of them had any experience with operating a sauna. In addition to the friendship and love of sauna, they were also united by the desire to preserve the unique atmosphere of a place that few people know about, but which has become legendary in its 36 years of existence.
He opened the door, which by the way he built and operates the futuristic houseboat PortX in Holešovice, Prague. When he learned that a theatrical sauna with a brutalist interior was available in the operating building of the National Theater on the corner of Ostrovní and Divadelní streets, he did not hesitate for a moment.
“My wife forbade me and told me that if I meant it, she would divorce me,” he laughed. “So I had to figure out how to do it so that I wouldn’t have to deal with day-to-day operations, but at the same time saved this space from large sauna chains,” he adds.
So the basic idea was simple – to renovate it weathered and damaged, but at the same time to preserve as much of the original interior as possible. In the end, the National Theater also liked the plan to restore the sauna to its former glory the most, so Otevřel a spol. in the end, to their surprise, they got the green light.
“We wanted to build on Prager a bit and elevate him,” describes Open Reconstruction, under which Edit are signed! Architects and which lasted less than six months and eventually cost less than one million crowns. The heart of the whole space, which Otevřel a spol. Symbolically called the National Sauna, is a completely new Finnish sauna, which now can accommodate twice as many as eight people and which has a wooden ceiling laid out in the shape of the Czech flag.
Exaggerate luxury, jacuzzi or pomp, which you are used to from modern wellness centers, but do not wait here. In addition to the changing rooms, the national sauna has only three parts – a central room where you can sit at the tables, on the right is a rest room with sun loungers and on the left is the sauna itself and a cooling pool.
The old and weathered furniture is gone, the carpet has disappeared, which has been replaced by a concrete trowel on the floor, but otherwise most of the details remain. Including chandeliers, a typical wooden ceiling or a unique view through the glass panels on the roof in neighboring Žofín.
And in the end, the connection with the National Theater survived the change, whose historic building used to have a sauna in the basement for decades. Actors and ballerinas, the bodies of the body on the stage get really busy, so they are still used to visiting the local sauna and relaxing in it.
To make the connection to the National Theater even stronger, you can even enjoy live audio from the stage every day at 7 pm, when the evening performance begins in the neighboring historic building. Just imagine: you lie in a sauna and listen to opera instead of the usual soothing melodies.
But getting here won’t be that easy. If you are not an employee of the National Theater, you will need one of the 300 membership cards, which cost from 500 crowns (two entries per month) to three thousand crowns per month (unlimited entries) and which will be monthly and co. sell by invitation. The maximum capacity of the National Sauna is only 24 people.
However, you can try the sauna without a membership during pre-determined (and limited) hours. The reception saunas will give you more information on the telephone number 704 909 091. “The sauna is also about the feeling in it, so there must never be a headache here and we have to regulate the number of guests,” adds Otevřel.