I stayed at an Airbnb in Reykjavik in March 2016
Most people, when they heard I had booked an Airbnb in Reykjavik with no shower, reacted with shock. What, no shower? How can you stay there? They wondered. I continued to tell them about the public bath right by the apartment, how I could go there every morning and have a relaxing bath. Most people were still not convinced. They could not imagine a place without a shower. I had great faith in my choice myself.
During my travels in Japan I have often stayed at places without a private bathroom, hotels where I every morning had to go to the communal bathroom to wash myself, or even to a public bath house close by. I don’t mind, I find having a soak in a hot spring every morning quite refreshing. Both Japan and Iceland are volcanic countries, with an abundance of hot springs, and the bathing culture in both countries is of importance.
While skiing in Niseko, Japan, we were ten people sharing a cabin with no shower or bathtub. Every day after skiing we would head for the onsen (hot spring) for a warm bath. I loved it. There is nothing better than relaxing in a hot spring after many hours of skiing in the cold.
As I arrived in Reykjavik I got a message from my airbnb host. Something had come up, she could not meet me for another hour. Feeling a bit hungry I headed for Cafe Paris, I might as well have lunch as I waited.
I had the Icelandic lamb meat soup which was very tasty. A thick filling broth, great lamb meat and fresh bread. Not long after I had finished eating I got a message from my host, she was back home. I could come and check in.
I rented a room in a family’s apartment in Reykjavik, just five minutes from the city center. The room was more than big enough, it was set out a bottle of water for me, two towels. A tiny fridge stood in the corner. There was a toilet across the hall. Everything I needed except a shower. The first thing the host did when I arrived was to show me on the map how to get to the nearest public bath.
As I woke up the next morning I packed a towel and my swimshorts and headed for the public bath. As I got there I headed straight for the outside heated pool. Sinking into the water felt delicious, the warm water warming up every part of my body. It was 5°C in the air, but the 42° water kept me nice and warm. I laid back, closed my eyes and let my thought drift away.
Every morning I would head for the pool for the most amazing start of the day. I spent some time in the pool, it felt so much better than a shower would. Laying in the water gave me time to gather my thoughts, make some plans for the day, or just relax, not thinking about anything.
I was not the only one. There were always local people in the pool, after a few days I started recognising some of them. On my last day the pool opened late, I got there a few minutes before opening. I wasn’t the first to arrive, ten people were already there, waiting for the pool to open.
I am glad I chose to stay in the apartment with no shower. It was a lot cheaper than other places of similar size and quality. And I loved going for my bath every morning. Travelling is about having new experiences, and I would never have experienced the Icelandic bathing culture if I hadn’t stayed in the apartment with no shower.