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  • Writer's pictureNicola McCabe

Surprising Reasons Why Cotswold Saunas Are So Popular


Cotswold sauna - impressive half-moon viewing window
Large half-moon viewing window - just one of the sauna's impressive features

After a hectic few weeks delivering tubs, exhibiting at a show in Southampton, seeing friends before coming home and holding our own Open Day, I've managed to grab a couple of hours to write. Phew! I'm exhausted just thinking about.


Worse still though, as many of our Facebook followers will know, I have also had issues with our Hot Tubs in France business page. Hackers managed to get access to our business page through my personal account. So, I reported it and subsequently had my own access blocked. It's so frustrating and upsetting because you can't explain what's happened to a real Facebook Support person. Everything is automated. So I am praying that the original page isn't removed. There is a risk that may happen, and to mitigate the risk I have created a new personal account and business page - Hot Tubs and Saunas in France. I hope you will show your support by following our new page.


Back to Business

The exhibition and open day were great opportunities for me to find out more about saunas. As you know, me and Tim are fairly new to the world of wood-fired saunas, but even so, we’ve quite surprised by their popularity. Thankfully our knowledge is steadily growing, mainly thanks to our customers.



Feedback from sauna owners and exhibition visitors frequently mentions that one of the most striking features of the Cotswold sauna is its impressive half moon viewing window. It’s definitely what I’d call a talking point.


Just imagine, stepping into the sauna, leaning back and watching the world of wildlife, blissfully unaware of your presence, whilst enjoying the solace and relaxation in your secret hideaway.

Not only is the view a treat for your eyes, but the real wood interior and solid wood seating smells absolutely divine. If you have used a sauna before you will instantly recognise the pleasant scent of warm cedar wood and aromatic pines. Take a long, deep breath and the woody fragrance will help you relax even more - it truly is a sensory delight.


Neatly tucked away in a corner at the front of the sauna, is another outstanding feature, the Harvia stove. It’s recognised in the sauna industry as one of the best-selling wood-burning stoves, with multiple awards for reliability and efficiency. (We’ll talk more about heating up your sauna later on so don’t go away).


Sharing is caring

Should you feel the urge to share your sauna space, carefully crafted around the interior walls are wooden benches that can comfortably seat up to 6 people. Ample space for everyone to sit and relax and feel the benefits of the cleansing steam. But why share your sanctuary? If, like me, you prefer to stretch out, there's plenty of space to recline, rest your head and let the heat and steam gently caress your skin and soothe your body and mind.


The soft inbuilt LEDs beneath the benches create a calming ambience, whilst the exterior porch lights shed a warm, comforting glow. It sounds like a happy place where you can escape the hustle and bustle of daily life doesn’t it? Well, believe me - it is. 'Happiness' in the shape of a traditional wood-fired sauna pod.

But have the Cotswolds company created an outdoor space that contradicts the Oxford English Dictionary definition of a sauna?


Sauna noun

  1. a small room used as a hot-air or steam bath for cleaning and refreshing the body.

Actually, I think they might have…


Thinking outside the sauna pod

At the recent Prestige French Property exhibition in Southampton, I overheard several people debating other great reasons to buy a Cotswolds sauna. These are a few of the most interesting - and printable - suggestions:

  • Man cave

  • Reading room

  • Camping pod

  • Home office

  • Lakeside pod

  • Garden room

  • Wendy house

Because of its unique look and charm, we found people were not just admiring it as a personal home spa, but seeing its potential as a multi-functional outdoor space. It's pleasant surprise to find that its appeal stretches much wider than our anticipated target audience.

I suspect that traditional sauna users might be horrified to see a well-designed hot room adorned with cushions, pot plants and books. But why not? If it suits you to use the space in a different way, then go for it. I’m all for thinking outside the box and I’d be interested to hear some of your ideas too.


A Dream Come True

The Haapa sauna is a beautifully handcrafted leaf-shaped cabin, nicknamed the 'Hobbit House' by Janine Marsh from Good Life France magazine. Last November, she contacted us about buying a two-seater Glyme hot tub. We discussed the benefits of hot tub bathing, delivery arrangements, etc. Then, a couple of emails later, I received a very excited message - Janine had spotted the new saunas on our website. Within a matter of minutes her order had been upgraded from a hot tub to a wood-fired wellness retreat with a Haapa sauna. Like me, Janine knows a good deal when she sees it and was over the moon at the great discount we offered for buying both together.


To fit around Janine and Mark’s landscaping plans, we delivered their hot tub and sauna in March 2023. Everything was meticulously arranged and the manitou was waiting for us as soon as we arrived. Within a couple of hours, Tim had both the sauna and hot tub in perfect position.

As soon as Janine sat in the sauna, she knew the space was going to be her favourite place to relax and read, but with the potential to be an outdoor office. Mark, on the other hand, at that particular moment, seemed a little less enthusiastic and was more interested in how long it would take to heat to optimum sauna therapy temperature.


A few days after delivery day, I emailed to ask if they were enjoying their laid back hot tub and sauna life. This was their reply.


“OMG. We LOVE it. The sauna is amazing and the hot tub is a dream come true. It's actually life changing. Two very, very happy clients here - we seriously love our home spa. One of the things we missed most about being in the middle of nowhere was not being able to enjoy a little luxury like this once in a while. We've always loved Centre Parcs, the whole smell of wood, outdoor life, being in nature thing.. and now we have it outside our back door.” ~ Janine & Mark Marsh




Versatile Design

So, whether you're a sauna lover or not, we think this beautiful design has a new definition.

Cotswold sauna:

  1. a versatile space that can be heated up for sauna bathing, or warmed up for relaxing, reading and casual conversation; a sanctuary where a person can enjoy solitude and relaxation, or a safe place where children can play.


For me and Tim, it is an absolute joy that the Cotswold sauna has captured the imagination of so many people of different ages. Up to now, our customers are happily using it as a traditional wood-fired sauna, but who knows what ideas people will come up with next? Are your little grey-cells ticking over now as well? Mine are.


Question Time

We get asked lots of questions about the saunas, one of the most popular ones is how long does the sauna take to heat up?


Heat up time

Based on the user guide and advice from Cotswold Eco Tubs, we tell potential buyers it can take up to 2-3 hours to reach 80-90 C. However, one of our customers has recently told me it's wrong!

Last month, a new sauna owner sent me a detailed description of how to reach 90 C in an hour… Apparently, it’s all about the wood /air flow and timing.


It is interesting to note that - in our experience with the hot tubs - it is the men who make it their mission to master the wood-stove. Tim is my expert and has a lot of tricks up his sleeve for heating the tub (which he will happily share with anyone that asks). In fact, if you get a chance to read forums or articles on wood-fired products, you’ll find that there are three different approaches when it comes to wood-burners. There are those who are very scientific and methodical in their approach; others crouch next to the stove and feed it wood in until it reaches their ideal temperature, and finally, some (like me) who throw it all in and hope for the best!



Preparation is Key to Success

Anyway, one thing is for sure heating up your sauna or hot tub with a wood stove is much more cost effective, eco-friendly and faster than using electric. However, preparation is key. Get yourself a supply of dry wood. I know that might sound obvious, but wood that contains too much moisture will not burn well, nor fast and it is not good for the environment.


Use the right wood

It is important to select medium sized pieces of dry wood for a swift heat up. Imagine an average sized full log, if you can split into 2 or 4 parts it will be the perfect size to add to your wood stove. Also, hard woods such as oak, maple, birch and beech produce more heat and therefore will heat the sauna up faster than the soft woods from pine and spruce.


Air flow

The Therme and Haapa have been carefully designed to ensure there is a good air flow. It has ample ventilation, which is essential to get a constant air supply to the wood stove. But here are some additional tips for maintaining a constant air flow.

  • Clean out the ash pan after every use. If the pan is full, it stops the air flow

  • Warm up the chimney to create a good draw – light a piece of newspaper to push hot air up the chimney – it will speed up the draw.

  • Start with wood chips and small pieces of kindling

  • Never fill the wood stove more than two-thirds full

  • Do not put the wood in parallel. Place the wood in different directions so the air can flow around the burning wood.

  • Keep an eye on the amount of wood in the burner – add more every 15 minutes or so until you get the right temperature.

  • Adjust the burning capacity by opening or closing the ash pan or air vent

  • When you are coming in and out of the cabin, open and close the sauna door quickly to prevent heat loss.




Timing

Some additional timing tips from our very scientific and methodical Cotswold sauna owner. This is a tried and tested, well-timed way to get your sauna at optimum temperature in an hour.

  • 1 minute - Add kindling or wood flakes to get the fire roaring

  • 14 minutes – temperature 23C --add more wood (remember split logs or the like)

  • 25 minutes – add more firewood

  • 28 minutes – temperature 44-48C

  • 31 minutes – temperature 51C

  • 32 minutes – add more wood

  • 38 minutes – temperature 56-61 C

  • 48 minutes temperature 74-71C

  • 53 minutes – stir the firewood in the stove for an intense burn.

  • 60 minutes 81-91 Celsius

Challenge yourself and let me know how you get on. Bear in mind, this method requires your full attention – be careful not to get the wood stove too hot, as it will increase the risk of fire.


Is it all about a fast heat up time?

In the modern world we are all programmed to expect everything to be quick, fast-food, fast fashion, next-day deliveries. Even items to aid our health and well being need to be instant for some. I accept our lives are busy and time is valuable, so it's great to discover new ways and means to achieve your end goal. But is faster better?

I would love to hear more from you, our HTIF family, and your methods for heating up the sauna or hot tub. In the meantime, here are a few Timmy tricks (based on heating hot tubs) which will work for keeping your sauna warm too.

  • Light the fire in the morning. Once the fire is well established add on full logs to keep it going for a while. It will eventually go out and the water will be too hot, but you will find the temperature will have cooled down by the end of the day (for us around 6pm) for an enjoyable hot tub session (not recommended for a sauna)

  • Never let the tub water or sauna go cold. Whether you plan on using your hot tub/sauna or not, still make a fire every day – not a huge one, just enough to keep it going for an hour. It will keep the temperature up and eventually you will find it will achieve a constant heat.

  • Use pallet wood or old renovation wood (window frames etc) for a fast burn. Pallets contain a combination of hard and soft wood which is the perfect combination.


Be Respectful

A cautionary word, all wood-stoves need to be treated with respect. Be mindful of the increased risk of wear and tear to your fire stove and grate if the wood-stove is constantly reaching high temperatures. As I mentioned earlier, keep an eye on the fire in your sauna, as the fire risk is higher for an internal wood-stove.


Remember, a slow and steady approach to heating your water or sauna room will still produce the same health benefits and hours of relaxation. Choose the best method for you, and when you have time, please tell me all about it.


Get in Touch

If you are considering a sauna (or a hot tub) and would like it installed before Christmas, please order now. In November, we are expecting a delivery of saunas, hot tubs, and ice baths. If you didn’t get a chance to read about the benefits of hot and cold therapy, check it out today. It's an interesting read.



Hot Tubs in France are the only dealer for Cotswold Eco Tubs, saunas and ice baths in France. Our honest pricing and excellent customer service makes us one of the leading suppliers of wood-fired products. You can rely on us for a quality product, at a great price and a friendly and professional personal service.


Call us on FR: 0749 19 46 84 | UK: 07845 754049 or email hottubsinfrance@gmail.com




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