SPECIAL EVENTS AT THE BANYA

The banya is an inherently social experience and a great place for a range of different events.  Here are a few ideas for you

Bring a date!

That first meet-up can be pretty stressful, so why not invite your date to the banya? Any nerves you might have felt will soon evaporate and you won’t run out of things to talk about. A visit to The Bath House has everything you need for a memorable time – relax in the steam room, enjoy luxurious and invigorating treatments and then order some delicious freshly made food and drink. You bring the company and we will do the rest. Read about a recent first date experience from one of our guests.

Host a hen or stag party!

The banya has always played a central part in the social events that bookend our lives. In pre-Christian times when people still lived in rural and forest communities, the banya was the most important building in the village, somewhere the community assembled to wash as well as celebrate, feast, mourn and debate. Women often gave birth in the banya as it was the cleanest place in the village and people gathered there to mark the death of a loved one. A venik or bunch of leaves was sometimes placed on the dead body for the journey to the afterlife. Weddings were also marked by a visit to the banya. The bride and groom would wash together in order to embark upon their new life together, united, clean and rejuvenated. Getting married this summer or organizing a hen or stag do? Why not do things a bit different and host an event here at The Bath House? 

Family time at the private banya!

Family life can be hectic and fragmented and it’s harder than ever for families to spend quality time together. You can find the space for family time by visiting The Bath House and the private banya is the ideal place for that. The privacy and intimacy of your own banya, treatments rooms and drawing room will help you relax and reconnect with one another. After a special kid’s parenie, your children may even drop off if you are lucky. If they don’t, there are games like backgammon or chess, and they will love the pelmeni, honey cake and mors we make in house.    Come and make some family memories at The Bath House. 

Aunt Sara then appears with some veniks and “in that steam heat began to birch me, very lightly at first…and then harder and harder…until I began to yelp. More steam came belching up, and she turned me over and began to work on my chest and stomach. I was fairly interested by now, for mildly painful though it was, it was distinctly stimulating”.

I will leave the rest to your imagination or you can search out the book. Flashman concludes that “the Russians have some excellent institutions” and that Sara was “undoubtedly my favourite aunt”.

There is no bad time to visit the banya – you can go alone or with friends, you can celebrate, commiserate or meditate there. I moved to Moscow in 1999 and by this time I was generally using the banya to recover from the night before. I usually visited Kransopresnenskaya banya which was most famous for an incident in 1994 when a notorious Georgian gangster was shot by a sniper as he walked out onto the street. S Legkym Parom indeed!

Wherever I travelled for work in Russia or nearby, I would sample the local banya, from small shacks in the countryside to grand urban complexes like Sanduny in Moscow or Arasan in Almaty. I also began to think about opening somewhere back in the UK and, when I moved to London in my 30’s, I researched the contemporary bathhouse scene. There wasn’t much to get excited about. My favourite was probably the Porchester in Queensway had a glorious kidney shaped pool and beautiful tiled rooms with a range of temperatures ranging from the coolest (Frigidarium) to the hottest (Laconicum), but none of them offered the same rejuvenating experience as banyas in Russia.

 

The Bath Houses of London

At the same time, I learned that London had a rich history of bath houses. These included an opulent Oriental bathhouse opened in 1862 on Jermyn Street by a former British diplomat in Constantinople and a Russian banya on Brick Lane called Russian Vapour Baths, set up by emigree jews who had fled the pogroms of the Tsarist empire for East London.  There were also numerous “bath houses” or laundries where people could go to literally take a bath and do some washing. Look carefully around the city and you will see examples like this one in Kentish Town.

The Bath House – Banya London opened in 2019 and we hope it is a worthy addition to that history.