For nigh-on 100 years, East Villagers have been unwinding at the Russian and Turkish baths (pictured above), an old-school and slightly worse-for-wear bathhouse where, once you’ve donned the requisite robe and sandals, you are well advised to attach yourself to the garrulous regulars and follow their established ritual.
This includes a bake in a Russian sauna, a shvitz in a Turkish bath filled with clouds of lavender-scented steam, and frequent plunges into the ice-cold pool. For a small extra fee, attendants will flagellate you with oak leaves soaked in olive oil, scrub you in Dead Sea salts, and cake you in mud. A session ends with a cup of borscht or plate of chopped herring in the on-premises Anna’s Restaurant. You can find plenty of fancier places in New York to soak and sweat, but the cracked tiles and chatter infused with old-world lilts provide an only-in-New-York ambience that’s as refreshing as the treatment.
The nearby Great Jones Spa puts a New Age spin on tried-and-true bathhouse standards in a Water Lounge filled with all sorts of fancy wizardry, including a steam room aglow with health-inducing chakra lights.