Sing me the praises of suburban bathhouses…
This is 100 per cent less sketchy than it sounds. When the winter blues kick in, the best cure is a deep steam — and the best steams are often in suburban strip malls. Really. Here’s a quick primer.
equipped with a steam room and a cold-water bath. For the full experience, spring for a felt hat and book a venik massage. A staff member will dip a bundle of leaves and twigs into hot water, then repeatedly strike it against your back as you lie face down (supposedly to increase circulation). Peeling massages that exfoliate your skin with salts and coffee grains are also popular.
Finland, home of even longer winters than Canada, has nearly half as many saunas as it does people. And the dry steam rooms popularized in the country tend to be clad in cozy wood. Nudity is customary if you’re visiting one in Helsinki (Finns have some idea about swim trunks releasing toxins at high temperatures), but less common here.
The best part of these bath rooms is often the tiles. Ornate mosaics of traditional Islamic patterns give you something to focus on if heat makes you drowsy. Services range from traditional massages to aromatherapy experiences that employ multiple oils. Great for those looking for an experience that feels both physically and spiritually profound.
In South Korea, these 24-hour bathhouses are a popular destination for partiers trying to sober up on their way home. Many of the versions opened here embrace the same latenight hours. Visitors are issued T-shirts and shorts upon entry — a democratizing move that means you needn’t worry about your pals making fun of your Hawaiian-print swim trunks.