What Seattle Freeze? The Parilka (dry sauna) of the trendy coed Russian-style bathhouse in South Lake Union could melt the coldest countenance of any passive-aggressive Seattleite. Or maybe it was the patrons, a boisterous bunch, who were both garrulous and serene. In the Parilka, instead of sitting in silence, the bathers chatted across from each other on the cascading stairs, like high-school students on bleachers.
Many of the patrons were regulars who came multiple nights a week. One, a man with a beard and handlebar mustache, proclaimed Banya 5 to be “the greatest place on Earth.” He did so while standing chest-deep in the cold-plunge pool — 45 degrees — without flinching.
He was also the same man who advised me to “just breathe” and explained, “This is sort of like forced meditation,” after my first ever-public beating — or rather, a massage (or “platza” with a Venik, a soaked oak branch) in the Parilka administered by a burly Viking type.
I laid on the top bench of the smoking hot sauna, while the big man slapped my back and legs with the leaves, which were wet and steamy from the heat. An intense feeling of claustrophobia took over and I felt dizzy. I can’t say it was pleasant but it was certainly memorable.
My friend did better with the “50 Shades of Veniks” than I: After her “massage” and cold plunge, she went to the tepid pool where a perfect stranger held her aloft like a baby as she floated on her back. After three exhilarating hours there, I could agree with the mustachioed man’s assessment of Banya 5’s greatness.
$40 entry; $25 early-bird special Wednesdays and Thursdays before 2 p.m.; coed; open Tuesdays 4 p.m.-11 p.m., Wednesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-11 p.m., closed Mondays; 217 Ninth Ave. N., Seattle; 206-262-1234 or banya5.com.
To read the full article which includes other great spa options in the area, click here: http://www.seattletimes.com/life/lifestyle/best-seattle-area-day-spas-feel-pampered-without-breaking-the-bank/