To beer or not to beer – that is no longer the question with the arrival of an inventive new attraction in Belgium.
The idea is that you combine arguably the country’s best-known export – beer – with the current craze for wellness and well-being.
The result? Well, it is a beer spa, which is not uncommon in parts of Eastern Europe but hitherto unheard of in Belgium.
A couple of intrepid Belgians friends, Louis Raes and Bart De Brabanter, have tried to rectify that by bringing the beer spa concept to this country.
They met while studying at KU Leuven and, as true beer aficionados, they discovered the concept of beer spas during a trip to Eastern Europe. They were immediately fans of the concept but also surprised that there was not something similar in Belgium, known as the beer country par excellence.
“Taking a bath in the same natural ingredients used in beer? Why not!” says Louis.
So, Bath & Barley was born with a first branch in Brussels that opened its doors at 34 Rue de l’Ecuyer, close to the Grand Place in the spring of 2021.
Now, two years on Bath & Barley has now also opened a branch in the heart of the historic centre of Bruges (2 Hoedenmakerstraat).
Water, hops, barley and yeast are the main ingredients with which the 10 bath tubs, spread out over four private areas of the luxurious ‘city spa’, are filled. These 100% natural ingredients, which most of us mainly associate with beer, each have many beneficial properties in their own right. In the Middle Ages they already realized that beer could not only be used for drinking, but that bathing in the ingredients has a positive effect on body and mind.
It is a tradition that has been lost in Belgium – until now.
The spa is located in the cellars of a historic building a few hundred meters from the Grote Markt.Antwerp design studio “WeWantMore” was inspired by materials that are inextricably linked to the building and to the authentic brewing culture; such as copper, wood, straw and stained glass.
As Louis says these are materials that also give the feeling of intimacy, peace and relaxation or “Everything you look for in a spa.”
You relax in a traditional oak bath at a temperature of 39°C and Louis adds, “At Bath & Barley you don’t just come to relax, you also learn about our unique beer culture because guests are given an explanation about Belgian beers, about the barley and yeast that are added to the bath and they can choose the hops with which they give themselves a scrub.”
For this, Bath & Barley works with Forrest Farm, a 3rd generation hop growers from Belgium.
Forrest Farm supplies all hops in the form of dried hop flowers. These are then ground up to be used as a scrub. In this way, they release their unique aromas and beneficial effects, explains Louis.
Louis says, “A visit takes typically 1 hour. Say you arrive 15 minutes beforehand you would think of 1hour and 15minutes. Some people opt for two hours.”
The period after the session is not overlooked though and it is recommended to allow up to four hours before you shower so as to reap the full benefits.
It is not only the hops in your bath that is 100pc Belgian so is the beer that’s served: You can pour an Estaminet lager beer at any time from the tap next to your bath as a part of the experience (water is also available for free). You can also order a ‘Taste of Bruges’, a themed taster flight of beers from the region carefully paired with Belgian chocolate.
It is all great fun and a perfect antidote for the ever-stressful lives many of us now lead.
This is how it works:
* You make an appointment. Guests will have access to one of four private rooms suitable for couples and groups of up to 8 people (Bruges only);
* Your bath is filled with fresh (warm) water and barley and yeast is added;
* You can choose which Belgian hops you wish to scrub yourself with;
* While bathing you can enjoy a beer from the tap next to the bath or a ‘beer flight’ with food pairing;
* After the bath you can relax on a straw bed. The whole experience takes 1 hour or an hour and a half.
* It is recommend you do not take a shower for at least four hours as it allows your body to reap maximal benefits from the bath.
A session for two of 1 hour costs from €129 or €159 for 90 minutes. Every additional hour comes with a 25% discount.Estaminet lager on tap, water and towels are included.
You need you to arrive at least 15 minutes before a reserved bathing session for an explanation on how the session will look and taste like. There is also the possibility of private use of a spa room (each with a couch or straw bed and at 70C) of your choice for 60 minutes.
Children are allowed and welcome but according to Belgian law children below the age of 16 are not allowed to consume beer. The person who makes the reservation has to be at least 18 years old and is responsible for all minors.
02 662 0889