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Want to save some spa pennies? Try one of the handful of co-ed bathhouse-style spas that charge a flat-fee rate of admission. Inside you'll find a water therapy lounge filled with dry saunas, wet steam rooms, Jacuzzi baths, and exhilarating cold-water plunges. The concept is based on old-world wellness rituals – and the belief that switching up heat and cold experiences jump-starts your immune system. Because there’s no massage therapist involved, you save plenty – these typically cost $45 or less for several hours. And unlike the hushed whispers of resort and destination spas, chatting with a spa buddy is par for the course at these friendly, communal spas. Just remember to bring your bathing suit, flip-flops, and maybe a favorite face mask.
Body by Brooklyn
The wet lounge contains hot Swedish and Russian saunas (shown at upper right, courtesy of Body by Brooklyn), steam rooms, and a few pools of various temperatures, then you retire to the martini lounge for relaxing in front of the fireplace. This is one of the few places where you can also try the signature Russian Platza treatment ($45), where you’re thwacked with a broom made of fresh oak leaves that’s soaked in warm water and natural oils. It’s a traditional treatment that’s both exfoliating and energizing. $45, www.bodybybrooklyn.com
Banya 5, Seattle
The traditional Russian dry sauna, called a Parilka, is heated to about 200 degrees. Some of the city’s spa-goers here actually don hats to keep their hair from cooking. It’s part of a hydrotherapy circuit that includes time in the wet Turkish steam room, tepid pools, a saltwater pool, and a nap room. And breaking all stereotypes, the spa (shown at left, courtesy of Banya 5) draws guests of all ages – even families with children. Tres European. $35, www.banya5.com
The Standard Spa Miami
The outsize, modern hammam (a tiled Turkish or Moroccan hot room; shown at right, courtesy of The Standard Spa Miami), popular with twenty-somethings, makes for a great afternoon for sweating out your bad habits. You can also soak in a stainless steel tub, shower off to sound therapy, or clear your head with a eucalyptus steam. Outside, a tricked-out pool area with a hydrotherapy waterfall and other amenities, often has a nightclub-like vibe. Monday – Thursday $40, Friday – Sunday $75, www.standardhotels.com
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