Lenin Spa – Varberg, Sweden - Atlas Obscura

Lenin Spa

Take a schvitz just like an infamous Soviet dictator while his unblinking eye looks on. 


Sweden’s quaint Hotell Gästis is a bucolic, family hotel located in the charming city of Varberg, but beneath this cozy hotel is a spa modeled after Russian despot Vladimir Lenin’s own favorite bath house.

Located in the basement of what was once St. Petersburg’s Smolny Institute, a school for girls of noble birth, the original bath that would become the favorite of Vladimir Lenin was frequented by a number of high profile members of the Russian government. When the provisional government came into power after the October Revolution in 1917, the school was moved out and the building became the center of the new government for a time. Up until March 1918, when the government moved to the Kremlin, Lenin was often seen relaxing in his favorite spot in the back left corner. In the niche behind the main pool at Smolny was a bust of the creator of the bath, an Italian architect named Quarenghi, but in the 1950s it was replaced with a bust of Lenin and the basement facility was officially named “The Lenin Baths.” The spa operated until the beginning of the 1990s and was primarily used by party officials, workers, and civil servants. In 1983, the creator of the Gästis baths was able to visit the Smolny baths, but not allowed to sit in Lenin’s favorite spot. 

Smolny is now the administrative seat of St. Petersburg and Lenin’s bath have since closed down. However, inspired by his visit, the creator of the Gästis baths recreated the space in their spa. While there are a number of modern amenities in the baths, the centerpiece is the main pool which recreates the one that once soothed Lenin at Smolny. The blue-tiled bath even features the bronze bust of Lenin staring severely down on bathers. However, unlike its Russian predecessor, guests are allowed to sit wherever they would like.    

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