From chocolate making to Sky Diving, ‘I Tried…‘ has seen me take on various different experiences during 2018 as part of my mission to ‘Say Yes’. This week saw me heading to central London, to try my first ever Russian Spa at Banya No. 1 which ended up being unforgettable for all the right reasons.
So, let’s start with what makes Banya No. 1 different to other spa’s?
When it comes to booking a spa experience, choosing the ideal venue can be tough, but when somewhere like Banya No. 1 offers something completely out of the ordinary. You should trust me when I say, it’s well worth going against the grain.
Once I’d signed in at reception, I was shown the comfortable but simple changing room and allocated my own stunning ivy green private booth. My booth was complete with a vast steaming pot of herbal tea and an option to chose from the traditional Russian food menu, with a focus on nutritious and delicious sounding meals. I was then shown the way to the ‘Banya’, which my friends, is where the magic happens…
I changed into my bikini, wrapped myself in a huge fluffy white towel, then I slipped on my new favourite accessory (My Banya No.1 Hat, worn to help regulate my body temperature) and headed into the Banya.
“Unlike conventional saunas, a Russian banya generates high levels of steam as water is splashed onto a tonne of cast iron heated to 700°C inside an authentic brick furnace.
Although the banya’s temperature (70°C) is lower than in a sauna the high levels of super hot steam cause the body to sweat profusely and then detoxify.”
I was booked into one of the ‘single sex’ time slots at the Banya, which meant that clothing was optional. This made me question why as Brit’s it’s almost ingrained into our minds that nudity should be kept to the privacy of our own homes. Why do we forget that naked bodies are entirely natural and that there isn’t always a sexual connotation?
After spending 5 minutes in the sauna, I took a quick shower and submerged into the plunge pool, only to resurface feeling invigorated, with adrenaline pumping through my veins. The natural choice for me was to then cosy up and return to my private booth and enjoy some herbal tea before repeating the experience.
Let’s talk treatments…
Whilst you can enjoy traditional treatments such as massage, mud wraps, and body scrubs, what makes Banya No.1 shine brightest is the signature Parenie – Venik Massage. The massage takes place in the sauna, I was told to lay face down on a warm bundle of birch, oak and/or eucalyptus twigs, then an additional bundle was placed on my head, and moments later, my massage began…
“Leafy, fragrant bundles of twigs used to shift the steam and make you sweat profusely. It also stimulates blood circulation, improves metabolism, and relieves stress, muscle tension and joint pain.”
The Parenie – Venik massage was absolutely surreal, I had absolutely no idea what to expect, but the end result was like no other experience. Surrounded by the warmth of the Sauna, I was massaged with rhythmic movement of the leaves for an experience that left me feeling both energised and relaxed.
After the massage, I was then led out of the sauna, where a bucket of cold water was tipped over my head and I was encouraged to submerge into the plunge pool for full effect. Now, to some people, this might sound like complete torture, but please mark my words, it was out of this world and you’ll want to repeat the experience again.
On to the honey and salt scrub…
I was then guided into a private room ready for my first ever honey and salted scrub, with a charming lady who had kindly been looking after me throughout my experience at the spa. It was recommended that I was nude during the application of the honey and salt scrub, which was something that took me right out of my normal comfort zone. After spending a moment or two in a complete panic, I realized that being nude it was the most natural and authentic choice. It might not sound like a ‘big deal’ for many people, but for me, it was a vast leap in the direction of body confidence and self-acceptance, without hiding behind my clothing, filters or makeup.
The salt and honey scrub left me feeling absolutely glorious, I then returned to the Sauna for 10 minutes and allowed the scrub to soak in. After basking in a hot shower, I was then feeling adventurous, so I took another trip into the plunge pool, before returning to my booth for more herbal tea.
Where is Banya No. 1?
Banya No.1 is around 20 minutes from Euston Train Station in London.
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