Take an afternoon off and bask in the heat at Rituels d'Orient
Off-the-beaten tourist path, but well-located on a side street just off Barcelona's busy Avinguda Diagonal, this small spa is popular with locals who live and work in the area. After changing in the small dressing room area, I walk through a Middle-Eastern-themed lounge area and down the stairs into the belly of the beast. The lights are low, and the only sound is the splashing of water on pavement.
Inside, a young woman dressed a black bathing suit in a white Turkish towel smiles and nods in greeting as she continues fills a bowl with water and flings it towards the heated benches. The space is warm and relaxing, with puddles reflecting the light streaming in from windows outfitted with wrought iron on the floor.
Through arching doorways there's the scrub area, and the hot room. In the hot room, beads of water sparkle like stars against a mottled charcoal and chocolate toned sky.
Unlike at other spas that sell circuit passes, crowds are at a minimum here---during my entire visit there were never more than five people sharing the space. Probably because here the only way to access the bathes at all is to reserve a treatment---scrubs, massages, etc.
For me the massage with essential oils, the baths, and the mint tea with an arabic pastry afterwards in the lounge were highlights, although the scrub wasn't especially relaxing (in a semi-public area of the baths) or thorough (no elbows, hands or feet?).