Begin your experience with a pickup from your hotel, and travel to the splendid Sandunovsky Baths (Sanduný Banya) in the center.
Along the way, listen as your knowledgeable guide shares historical tales about this famous banya — the oldest sauna in Russia, and a cultural icon in Moscow. Learn how the baths were constructed in 1808, and discover more about the bathing rituals of the time. The baths quickly became a social hub for wealthy Muscovites, whose visits were attended to by a vast team of pampering assistants.
On arrival, admire the magnificent rococo, Gothic and Moorish-style interiors, and be shown to the appropriate, separate men’s and women’s facilities. Get an introduction to the etiquette of bathing from your guide, and then enter the changing rooms to change into your bathing suit.
Once you’re ready, make your way to the wood-heated steam room as the first step of your traditional bathing experience. Feel the steam work its magic, and then take invigorating dips in a warm pool and cold plunge pool before returning to the steam room, and then repeating the process as you wish.
If you wish, try out a venik — hitting a bundle of birch, oak or eucalyptus leaves against your back — to improve your circulation. And perhaps take a break midway through with a drink (own expense) such as beer or tea with honey; and snacks (own expense) such as khachapuri (breads filled with cheese) as you drink in the ornate poolside frescos, columns and mosaics.
Your experience ends when you change back out of your bathing suit and leave the bathhouse.