In these cold months, it’s necessary for your physical and mental health to pamper your body with as much warmth as possible, and a trip to one of Brooklyn’s banyas is a damn good way to do it.
These aren’t the glorified massage parlors many Americans will associate with the idea of a spa, these are casual social clubs featuring a great diversity of hot and cold water treatments and lots of older Russian men sitting around in felt hats, eating fruit and relaxing with their guard down in a way many New Yorkers didn’t realize was possible. Sure, NYC used to have an abundance of public bathhouses, but it’s been nearly a century since we either demolished, abandoned, or converted those stunning revival structures into condos, because who needs community spaces when you have capitalism?
The price of admission to these banyas may seem high, but if you do it right you’ll spend all day within their windowless, steamy chambers and leave with very small pores and the feeling that you’ve gotten your money’s worth. And don’t scrimp and save by not spending any additional cash after the entrance fee — the food is really freaking good. Your body will thank you. So come take a trip out to Brooklyn’s nether regions and immerse yourself in Russian hospitality. (more…)