Last Saturday I took a breather from the usual Spa Week® scene and  investigated an alternative type of spa environment – a bathhouse. For 118 years, The Russian and Turkish Bathhouse in New York City’s East Village has been a social and wellness gathering spot for New Yorkers who crave escape and a variety of hot and cold spa sensations, ranging from a Russian Radiant Heat Room to a freezing cold pool.

This Fall they are participating in Spa Week for the first time! I tweeted the experience @SPAWEEK, risking the life of my Blackberry in the wet zones and extreme temperatures. Here’s the play by play, the pictures, and the Platza.


What happens in the bathhouse... Stays in the bathhouse? This is very different from @equinox

What happens in the bathhouse... stays in the bathhouse?


The water dumping was a more dramatic experience than it sounds. Usually there was a sharp yell followed by the water crashing to the ground, sounding more like someone getting whipped than anything else.


12 degrees away from boiling point – totally misjudged that one! Dry heat is much different than wet heat – the steam rooms only go up to around 125 degrees.

The bathhouse is big on up-selling. Men are standing by to slather you with mud, exfoliate you, massage you, or smack you with oak leaves (more on that later). I said a massage sounded nice, at which point I was immediately escorted up to the treatment room.

Twtng live from the russian/turkish bathhouse, abt to get a swedish massage.. SO many nationalities involved

Twtng live from the russian/turkish bathhouse, abt to get a swedish massage.. SO many nationalities involved

Gene has been working here and doing this for 16 years. He gives a very thorough massage.
It’s never easy when a massage is over…

They're washing the oak leave bundles... Which are used I believe for smacking during a curious Russian ritual

They're washing the oak leaf bundles... Which are used for smacking during the Russian ritual Platzing

Okay. I am a very open-minded person. Not only would I try anything once – I WANT to try everything once. However, there was something keeping me from getting their most famous treatment of all — perhaps it was my phobia of stepping barefoot on wet surfaces. Perhaps it was the mysterious bucket and soap in which the oak was being washed, or that the man washing wore only a towel. OR… perhaps it was learning that smacking is involved. russian11

People chilling in towels and mud masks... This photography is most certainly not allowed.

People chilling in towels and mud masks... I'm going to guess this photography is not allowed.

Rather than just telling you about the oak leaf smacking, called Platza… I’m going to show you. If a picture speaks a thousand words, this video speaks a million:

Next time I will definitely try the Platza! I’m so mad at myself that I didn’t, but despite it, this was still an extremely memorable experience, and a refreshingly different culture of spa-going. If you’ve done regular spa thing many times before and are looking to feel like you’ve escaped the country for the afternoon, get your robe on and take a dip in the bathhouse.

Russian & Turkish Baths
268 East 10th Street
New York, NY 10009

Available $50 Spa Week Treatments (oct 11-17)

  • 45 Min Swedish, Thai, Sports or Deep Tissue Massage
  • 45 Min Scrub Combo with Salt Scrub, Mud Treatment and Soap Wash

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