By Thomas Riggs
The answer is: Well, sort of.
Yesterday I went to the Russian & Turkish Baths in lower Manhattan, to see what they were like. Mind you, I had heard of this establishment in the past from a few Finns but had not followed through, as I didn’t see the words “Finnish Sauna” in the title. Upon entering the place, I noticed President Ahtisaari’s picture, along with other noted celebrities – now they can claim to have had a Nobel Peace Prize Winner as a customer!
Not claiming to be a sauna ‘master’ but having been to dozens of saunas here in the US and Finland, I did not know what to expect from the Russian or Turkish versions. Some things were immediately different. Swimsuits are mandatory, for example, and the whole operation is coed. I went downstairs, which was quite full of people. After doing a quick scan I noticed a good-sized cold water pool, and several different “steam” rooms: Russian, Turkish, aromatherapy, and at the end of the hall, what appeared to be a traditional Finnish sauna. The tile was “Redwood Steambath,’ however – NOT Finnish Sauna. There was something different in each one (The Russian one was very large and of stone/concrete, the Turkish had tiled walls and heating pipes under the wooden benches, the aroma therapy room was rather “foggy", and the Finnish Sauna had a nice smell of wood, and a stone oven). What was surprising was the sauna had very few people in it at almost all times!
I tried all of the baths and I guess I favoured the sauna (surprised?) but overall it was a good experience. Check the place out here.
So, will there ever be in New York City, an operation dedicated solely to the Finnish Sauna?