Five years in the making, Sense of Self (or SOS) occupies an entire double storey warehouse building in Melbourne’s Collingwood.
On the top floor is a day spa that opened late last year, but it’s downstairs where you’ll find the main attraction: a beautifully designed bathhouse that has only just opened to the public. ‘We came to know the benefits of bathing through personal experiences in early adulthood, when we were at odds with our bodies and ourselves’, explains Freya Berwick, who is the co-founder of SOS, with business partner (and filmmaker) Mary Minas.
The pair met while studying business, and both had already started exploring their own interests in bathing culture around the world. Mary had traveled the world researching for a documentary about bathing through the ages, while Freya had recently returned from a stint in Norway, where she had re-developed and managed the hotel Fjærland Fjordstove, situated on the side of a fjord where you can experience extreme hot/cold contrast bathing.
Back in Collingwood, SOS bathhouse facilities include a large mineral bath (39℃), Finnish sauna (80℃), pail shower and cold plunge (opening in April), as well as their day spa and retail offerings. Closer to the winter months, they will also be opening a Hammam (a Turkish spa), where guests can scrub down with SOS products.
An oasis tucked away in the middle of the urban sprawl, the design scheme is what truly defines the experience. The tranquil, voluminous warehouse space takes on a neutral palette with splices of terracotta and forest green (largely thanks to the plant design by Ryan Klewer of The Plant Charmer), while rendered walls, concrete forms, travertine and sandstone (crafted by Fraser Munro of Munro Builds) ground the environment. Brass finishes and tapware from Sussex Tapware elevate the space into one of subtle luxury.
Mary and Freya worked with a female-led collaborative design team from SetSquare Studio, Chamberlain Architects and Hearth Studio, alongside builders MIC, to bring SOS to life.
Gender and body inclusivity is a core pillar of Mary and Freya’s vision for SOS, with the view that the bathhouse should be available to every body. ‘A big motivator for us was to engage with every body by creating a space that welcomes all regardless of gender or physical capabilities’, Freya explains. While the day spa area is up a flight of stairs (and therefore not accessible), the downstairs bathhouse has been designed with differently-abled bodies in mind. ‘Pathways and surfaces are easy to traverse when using a wheelchair, clear sight lines for personal safety are employed while still creating nooks and personal spaces that allow for privacy and quiet reflection.’ There are individual change rooms, as well as a pool hoist and DDA Bathroom available for those that require it.
Who would’ve thought you’d find peace and tranquility in the backstreets of Collingwood?!
SOS Bathhouse is now open! Follow them on Insta here and book here.
30-32 Easey Street
Sense of Self
Tuesday – Friday, 7am – 9pm.
Saturday – Sunday, 9am-7pm
Tuesday – Friday, 11am – 8pm
Saturday – Sunday, 10am – 6pm