The shining star of Madrid's current health and relaxation infatuation is the Medina Mayrit hammam. An instant hit with madrileños from the minute they opened, the baths are still so popular you need to call weeks in advance for a weekend booking. They are an oasis of calm, located just minutes from the bustling Puerta del Sol.
A series of pools span out beneath arched ceilings, half lit by flickering lamps. One shallow pool of warm water abuts another of hot water, with a deeper pool of cold water nearby for a chilly plunge.
The company behind the hammam, El Grupo Al Andalus, prioritises historic authenticity. Masons from Andalucía were hired to lay the stone floors, which replicate the streets of Granada's Albaicín (Moorish quarter). The mosaic walls at the entrance are designed in the red, blue and green tiles found in the Alhambra. Upstairs, a tearoom/restaurant, La Colina de Almanzora, specialises in historic Arabic food.
Enthusiasts claim that the hammam provides relief for almost any ailment, from the common cold to arthritis and hangovers. The heat improves circulation, eliminates toxins and keeps the skin clean and supple. After a visit most people feel energised and refreshed, though if it's some deep relaxation you're after, book a 15-minute massage (for an extra fee).