Russian Bathhouse - There once was a girl named...
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Sun, Jan. 11th, 2009 03:15 pm
Russian Bathhouse

I consider it a good weekend if I do at least one thing I've never done before. Today, that was visiting Banya 5, a Russian "urban spa" in the developing South Lake Union area. I've visited Japanese and Korean bathhouses, and now having been to a Russian spa I'm glad to find more similarities than differences. They're all based on hydrotherapy - a wonderful experience of immersing yourself in different types of water of varying degrees in temperature, exposing your body to the elements for rejuvenation and a bit of adrenaline from the extreme temperatures. Banya has three pools - hot, really fucking cold, and tepid salt water. There is a (very hot) dry sauna and a eucalyptus steam room. Banya is co-ed and bathing suits are required, which isn't as enjoyable for me but means there is more conversation among guests and less of the shock of hanging out with people naked. At 11AM on a Sunday morning most visitors were Russian and obviously die-hard spa guests.

I was given the advice of enjoying the pools as following: dry sauna until I couldn't stand the heat, quick plunge in the cold water, then a soak in the tepid salt water. Every time I encounter a cold water plunge I think of a million things I'd rather do instead, but I took the advice and didn't regret it.

I got a salt scrub and Elisa did the deep tissue massage - both of which were excellent and I'm pleased with the softness of my skin. Despite what I consider to be kind of a pretentious looking entrance, it is very laid back and relaxing environment. There's also a Vodka bar next door that we'll have to try on our next (evening) trip.

If you're looking for a good way to get a break from the cold, gray Seattle winter, I highly recommend Banya!

14CommentReplyShare

wingedcorset
wingedcorset
Molly Mayhem
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 12:06 am (UTC)

OK, this is funny. I'm listening to a Seattle radio show/podcast right this very second that's doing a segment about this place: http://www.mynorthwest.com/?nid=78&sid=122578#comments


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lisa
lisa
Lisa Phillips
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 12:15 am (UTC)

I hope they're saying nice things!

I miss Kabuki Springs in SF. I didn't take advantage of it as much as I should have! That remains the nicest (in terms of presentation/cleanliness/general aura) bathhouse I've visited. And cheapest!


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killervee
killervee
Assisted Living Dracula
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 02:51 am (UTC)

I was given a gift certificate for there by BAD for being on the Events committee. I've never been and I'm a little shy...


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lisa
lisa
Lisa Phillips
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 02:57 am (UTC)

You could go on Sunday which is a co-ed day. Everyone wears bathing suits so it is a little more social. I've been on just girl days and it is fine, takes just a few moments to get used to it. If everyone is naked, nobody is!


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toastednut
toastednut
oh nuts
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 06:30 pm (UTC)

tuesday is co-ed day! unless they changed it?


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lisa
lisa
Lisa Phillips
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 06:33 pm (UTC)

You're right! I should have checked first :)


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toastednut
toastednut
oh nuts
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 08:08 pm (UTC)

i love that place. i was actually looking at going to banya 5 when i was up in seattle about a couple weeks ago but instead i was snowed in. :P


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kimmi8
kimmi8
still unknown
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 01:02 am (UTC)

you had me at vodka bar!


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obomb
obomb
o daddy doggy
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 01:15 am (UTC)

heard something about this place on the radio this week. i can't wait to go to this sauna and play tough guy with surly old russian dudes.


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lisa
lisa
Lisa Phillips
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 01:17 am (UTC)

Without those dudes I probably wouldn't have taken the cold plunge. I'll do almost anything on a dare!


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chris
chris
mechanical found ghost
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 06:29 am (UTC)

yeah it'll be like that fight scene in Eastern Promises


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whitaker
whitaker
Brad Whitaker
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 01:21 am (UTC)

OMG I totally went to Banya in Moscow. Do you have to beat each other with bundles of birch leaves while in the naked sauna at this one?


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lisa
lisa
Lisa Phillips
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 01:26 am (UTC)

I personally avoided confrontations with birch leaves but I did see it mentioned as a possible "treatment"


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rettig
rettig
Rettig to Rumble
Mon, Jan. 12th, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC)

I think I would be kicked out for insisting upon speaking in a terrible russian accent the entire time I was there. I have a feeling I wouldn't be able to help myself. I'm annoying myself just at the thought of how annoying I would be.


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