For a truly Russian experience, pay a visit to a banya. These bathing houses aren’t just a place to get clean, they’re also a place for socialising and catching up on gossip. If you’re ready to sweat it out and get whacked with birch twigs, check out our round-up of the best banyas in St Petersburg.
The banyas on Degtyarnaya street combine years of successful business experience with the pleasures of modern pampering. This bathing house underwent remodelling in the 1990s, bringing all the infrastructure up-to date. Apart from the traditional Russian banya, they also have a Turkish hammam, bathing pools, massage services and all sorts of refreshments to make you want to stay for more. The price depends on the level of comfort, the cheapest will be shared with other visitors of the same sex. The more expensive option is renting a private room, but it’s only worth it if you are with a group of friends. It is advisable to book rooms in advance.
1 Degtyarnaya Street, Saint Petersburg, Russia, +7 812 985 19 83
The Yamskie banyas claim to be the oldest bathing house in the city, frequented by Dostoevsky and Lenin themselves. Since the middle of the 19th century they have been an institution in the city. Shared and private rooms are available here, with experienced specialists offer a range of services such as scrubs and massages. After a relaxing day at the baths the adjoining Shaika-Leika bar welcomes visitors for a glass of beer or maybe something stronger to bring out the real Russian spirit.
9 Dostoevskogo Street, Saint Petersburg, Russia, +7 812 312 58 36
The Mitninskie banyas are also in the running as the oldest bathing house in St Petersburg. Whether or not they actually are remains insignificant – it all comes down to the quality of service at the end of the day. The deal here is fairly similar to most banyas, with both communal and private bathing rooms available. On top of the expected services though, this banya offers a hair and nail salon, allowing their visitors to go all-in on treating themselves.
17 Mitninskaya Street, Saint Petersburg, Russia, +7 812 271 71 19
Looking for a place were Rasputin used to bathe? Luckily it is still open in Saint Petersburg and continues to welcome visitors today. There are three classes of rooms you can get, with names that speak for themselves: for the simple folk, for mixed class and for merchants, but there are no private rooms. Note that for the two latter types there is only one day per week when women are allowed, called a family day – an historic inequality.
12 Pereulok Makarenko, Saint Petersburg, Russia, +7 812 714 39 84
Some of the more popular bath houses have now adapted to the growing demand and have lost their classical touch. Lotsmanskie banyas, on the other hand, are located away from the city centre and keep their services good, but simple, making sure that their visitors get a thoroughly good steam. They also have the traditional separation into male and female days: boys on Friday and Sunday, girls on Saturday and Monday. If you’re in search for a more authentic, yet less luxurious experience, make the extra effort to find these banyas.
20 Lotsmanskaya Street, Saint Petersburg, Russia, +7 812 495 00 38
Another very traditional establishment that allows for flaws in the service area, but keeps a very affordable price. Visiting here feels like taking a trip back to the 1990s, but if it’s an experience you’re after, then why not make it an exciting one? If cleanliness is not priority, then step right in. Not though that many services, especially those involving people-to-people contact, are not available for women. Segregation is very much alive at this spot.
20 Aleksandra Mastrsova Street, Saint Petersburg, Russia, +7 812 331 88 99