Miami is full of lavish spas in fancy hotels. But since not all of us have the luxury of spending a week’s pay on treatments at The Standard, allow me to introduce you to the Russian & Turkish Baths. This is perhaps the most wonderful and bizarre experience Miami has to offer. It’s located in an old hotel/condo that’s pretty nondescript, where they probably filmed Dexter and where prostitutes take their johns.
As soon as you walk into the place, you’ll realize right away that this is not your typical spa. The decor is kind of strange and excessive; the walls colorfully painted. When you get to the counter, the guy asks you to put your valuables in a safety deposit box, which I found kind of weird since they give you a locker anyway, but I went with it. My phone and wallet made it safely. Then they give you two towels and you’re on your way.
The first thing you’ll see when you enter is the salt water hot tub, which is surrounded by stone and colorful tiles. It’s very visually striking in a Soviet kind of way. We decided to hold off on that to check out their extensive steam/sauna rooms, of which there are a ton. First, we went to the Hammam, which was hotter than hell and really steamy. We didn’t last in there very long. So we went across the way to a the Turkish steam room that was slightly more dry.
That room was still about a thousand degrees, so we went around to the back corridor which has a ton of saunas and relaxation rooms. Let me be clear, these are basically tiny closets with a sign on them. The polar bear room is a room with the AC on high, but after being in the Hammam, it was actually amazing. The infrared sauna and the amethyst room were nice because they weren’t too hot. The amethyst room was full of crystals and for some reason made all the veins in our legs visible. There was also a rain room where you turn on the water and it goes all Rainforest Cafe on you. One of our favorites was the fire hose room, which they call the “Swedish high pressure shower.” You go in there and turn on the fire house and let your friends spray you like a criminal in a Russian jail. If you lay down, it feels like a massage.
Finally, we made our way down to the schvitz. I read the reviews on Yelp where people described throwing buckets of ice water on themselves and I thought to myself… get outta here, nothing could make me throw ice water on myself. False. The schvitz is the closest I’ve ever felt to dying in a fire. The thin parts of your body, like your nose and ears, start to sting almost immediately. There is cool water running into buckets and all you can do is throw them over your head. My arms, my back… everything felt like fire.
When we got out, we absolutely dumped the freezing water on ourselves. And it was awesome. We went in there like 3 times. There was a girl doing yoga in there.. God bless her soul. My water bottle was practically melting onto my lips within 20 seconds. You put me in that room for longer than a minutes and I would tell the Russians all our NSA secrets.
We also took advantage of the hot tub which was actually very pleasant in temperature and full of large Russian men. I’ve never been to Russia, but I imagine it would feel a lot like these baths.
The one thing that I thought sucked was the fact that they give you metal keys for the locker. I’m not cattle, babes, I don’t wanna be branded by Masterlock in your 500 degree saunas.
Some tips: Bring flip flops. Bring water. They give you two towels: I suggest keeping one in your locker because both of our towels got soaked. Be friendly, some of these guys go there often and are super nice and helpful.
I know there are a lot of comments online about how the Russian & Turkish Baths are dingy. Make no mistake; those comments are true. Some of the rooms look ghetto, and the decor is tacky and weird. But those Ace buckets full of cold water will be your favorite thing in the world. By the end of our visit, I was so relaxed that I was almost half dead, so it serves its purpose in a really interesting (and hilarious) way. And look… it’s $35 ($28 if you get the Groupon), if you were expecting the Mandarin Oriental, that’s your bad.