This tiny public bath is hiding in plain sight in the most touristy part of Stockholm.
Storkyrkobadet is located in a vault, in the basement of a building dating back to the 17th century in Stockholm’s Old Town. The building was originally a Dominican convent during which time the vault served alternately as a coal and wine cellar. In the 1890s, the building was converted to a primary school, and the vault became the baths for the students. It would take another half century before a sauna was built and the bath was opened to the public.
The bath is still old fashioned in many ways, with its architecture and interior unchanged since it was first built. It consists of just one shallow pool and a number of tiny tubs where visitors can sit and relax.
Throughout the years, Storkyrkobadet has become a popular meeting point for the gay community, probably because of the separate opening hours for men and women. Sweden’s most famous gay couple, Jonas Gardell and Mark Levengood, met here in the 1980s.
Despite its popularity and history, Storkyrkobadet’s existence is in danger. The city planned to close it in the ’80s but thanks to a volunteer organization called Föreningen De Glada Badarnait (“Society of Merry Bathers”) it was able to live on—at least for another few decades. Facing increasing costs, as of 2016 the future of this hidden oasis is again uncertain, but a small group of enthusiasts are doing everything in their power to keep it open.
Know Before You Go
Storkyrkobadet is open between 5 pm and 8.30 pm, for men on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays and women on Mondays and Thursdays.