HotBox offers a unique and super-relaxing experience at the North Coast. Here, the owners tell us why they love it (and why you will, too)!
What exactly is HotBox and where is it based?
In short, HotBox is an authentic Finnish wood burning sauna that also happens to be mobile.
The idea was to create a sauna that could be taken to the beach and enjoyed in conjunction with activities such as surfing or cold-water swimming. But somewhere along the way it became so much more than that – I think once you sit in the heat of the sauna looking out at the ocean and feel an immense calm wash over you, you really start to understand what HotBox is really about.
At the moment we are operating at Benone Beach since that is our home turf (and personal favourite!) For us it was the perfect setting with Mussenden Temple in one direction, Inishowen in the other, and a beautiful white, sandy beach for long walks.
Saying that, we do have plans to venture to other locations so keep your eyes peeled!
Tell us a bit about yourself as the owners!
I’m Anna, the Northern Irish half of HotBox and my husband Carl is the Swedish half. We are both keen outdoors enthusiasts and met while working in Switzerland. After a few years travelling, living and working around Europe, we somehow ended up back in Northern Ireland. As a ski instructor and an architectural student come artist, it had never really been our intention to come back, but now that we are here, we are so glad we did!
What’s the story behind HotBox? How did it come about?
Back in Sweden, Carl’s family live on an island outside Gothenburg, and have a sauna in their house (which is pretty common). When we visit, we always combine our sea swims with a sauna. In winter, we would run through snow to jump into icy water, so knowing there is a sauna waiting for you after brings a whole new element of pleasure to the experience.
When we moved back to the North Coast, we would find ourselves dreaming about a sauna every time we would dip in the sea. We didn’t ever think it would be a reality until we saw an article about ‘mobile spas’ in the South of Ireland. So, we hopped in the car with our 8 week old son to go investigate, and thus began our journey to Hotbox.
How does it work?
Each session is 90 minutes long and seats up to 6 people at a time – with the current COVID restrictions, you have to prebook and each group must be from a single social bubble.
When you arrive, we have a changing room that you can use to strip into your bathers and then you can either go straight to the sauna or have a quick dip in the sea. It may seem daunting, but it really does enhance the experience and it is the authentically Nordic way to do it!
After your cold splash, you sit back and unwind in the sauna for 5-15 minutes at a time. When you get too hot, you can either cool down outside or refresh yourself in the ocean. You repeat this process until you feel thoroughly relaxed and rejuvenated – we promise the best night’s sleep you’ve ever had after!
We also have a few Finnish accessories and tips to add to the ritual, but you will have to visit to hear more about those.
Who do you recommend it for?
The sauna is one of life’s great healers and regular use has been proven to have numerous health benefits. From people who struggle with stress and chronic pain, to reducing blood pressure and improving cardiovascular health.
Whilst in the sauna, your body releases more endorphins (the happy hormone) and lowers the levels of cortisol it produces (the stress hormone) so every time you sauna, you are having a positive impact in your body… and you feel amazing.
That being said, most people who come, just want a unique experience that is fun and invigorating for a weekend away or a special occasion.
What’s your favourite thing about HotBox?
Soft skin and a great night’s sleep!
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