A little over an hour outside Berlin, the pastel-painted town of Neuruppin offers a high-end spa experience perfect for burned-out city folk. The Fontane Therme, named for the area’s most famous novelist, Theodor Fontane, draws its salty, mineral-rich water from 1,700 metres deep. They claim these healing waters are 100,000 years old, and offer a chance for visitors to bathe in what they intriguingly refer to as “the primordial sea”.
If you wish to return to the primordial soup – in the very best way – hop the train up to Neuruppin and head to the Fontane Therme. A word to the wise: take a chilly stroll through the nearby Stadtpark Neuruppin before heading to the spa, which will make that first sauna trip all the more satisfying.
Talk Thermal To Me
The Fontane Therme offers multiple salt baths, four saunas, a massive tiered steam room – plus a smaller (and excellent) herbal one – and relaxation areas with comfy chairs and loungers. The Aufgüsse (periodical steamings) are less frequent than at other saunas, but are more intimate and more intense than I’ve experienced elsewhere, with waves of hot air that give you full-body tingles. The warm pools outside offer underwater chairs and recliners – a nice touch – and overlook the lake and the red-brick church nearby.
Like many German thermal baths, Fontane Therme is full of little quirks to uncover. A chilly grotto serves up an endless supply of crushed ice from a stone basin, the slightly eerie lighting giving it a vaguely ritualistic feel. Next door, you can steer yourself through both hot and cold “human car washes” that mist, shower and blow-dry you in turn. Overlooking the lake you’ll find a warm sea salt bath framed by hot-rod flames, where you can float peacefully while staring up through a giant hole at an (occasionally) blue sky.
The star of the show, however, is the 70-square-metre ‘floating’ Finnish sauna, the largest of its kind in Germany. Grab a swing bed (hence the floating) in the dimly lit interior and look out through floor-to-ceiling windows over Ruppiner See as the sun goes down. Once you’re nice and toasty, you can jump directly into the lake to cool down. Daytime visitors lucky enough to catch some sun may even want to lay out on the deck for a dose of vitamin C.
Stay the Night
The spa’s adjoining hotel, Resort Mark Brandenburg, is connected to the Fontane Therme via a breezeway that allows hotel guests to stroll from their rooms to the sauna and back. Snag a room with a balcony overlooking the lake for a chance to take in the sun prior to your daily soak. Overnight guests get access to the spa, bathing essentials and free reign at the breakfast buffet, which includes an outrageously German muesli bar, fill-it-yourself croissants and savoury options like soft-boiled eggs, smoked fish and soft cheeses. Who among us isn’t a sucker for the freedom (and free desserts) of a hotel breakfast?
On the dinner end, the buffet (a €38 add-on) is an alright option if you’d like to stay cocooned in the warmth of the spa-hotel, but if you visit on a Friday we’d recommend a three-course dinner at Wildwuchs Café, a vegan café centering local and organic produce. They are also open for lunch Tuesday to Thursday with a rotating menu that includes bright purple vegan herring salad, kimchi pancakes and beetroot risotto. Reservations are required for dinner, but drop in for lunch on your way out of town. That is, if the sauna sleepies don’t have you already dozing on the train home.
At a glance
Train: Take the RE6 (“free” with the Deutschlandticket) towards Wittenberge and alight at Neuruppin Rheinsberger Tor. The journey clocks in at an hour and fifteen minutes, and the Therme and hotel are another 10 minutes’ walk from the station.
Car: The drive takes about the same amount of time. You’ll take the A111 to the A10, then turn off for Neuruppin near Dabergotz.
The most basic room for two people will run you about €200/night, including breakfast, sauna robes, towels and access to the Fontane Therme from noon on the day of arrival until 11am on checkout day. If you’d like to visit the Fontane Therme for the day without staying overnight, day tickets are €85 and include access to the whole sauna and gym as well as free lunch, dinner, and snacks in their bistro from 1pm-7pm.