Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Man in Women's Locker Room, or a Visit to Brooklyn Banya

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Going to a bathhouse, one expects to have a wonderful relaxing day for his or her mind and body. With all its nice looks, Brooklyn Banya, however, brings extra stress into people's lives instead of reducing it. It all starts with the man continuously cleaning the women's locker room.

Just imagine: a woman comes into the locker room and sees a man cleaning. She thinks, ok, he will go away now that I'm here, right? You wish! The man doesn't even move, and he only leaves - reluctantly - when she kindly asks him to do so. Great start!

To give the man credit, the locker rooms are perfectly clean; he obviously maintains them well. They are also spacious, and have everything there should be: benches, three large shower cabins and a few hair dryers. The locker rooms and the interior of the bathhouse look like they have been recently renovated and well-maintained. 

The recreation area consists of a steam room, a wet sauna, a dry sauna, a jacuzzi and a pool. The saunas are quite small, which is ok, considering that the place is usually not busy on weekdays. The pool is just big enough to throw oneself from one side to another, although it's refreshing after a sauna or jacuzzi. Some bathhouses have pools with such cold water only the experienced ones can stay in for a long time. Brooklyn Banya does not; it is chilly after the heat, but not uncomfortable. 

The water both in the pool and in the jacuzzi is suspiciously cloudy, and one can even see a dried leave floating by in the pool. However, the saunas are kept clean and neat. The guests are politely offered massage, platska (oak leaves detoxing treatment), or body scrub, and once the jacuzzi stops bubbling, someone notices and turns it back on. Together with the smiley and upbeat receptionist, it must be said that the customer service is overall pretty good. 

At the same time, the guests are only allowed to use two towels per person, or rent a "better" towel, bigger and thicker one, for the whole day, as well as a robe. There are no towel baskets in the locker rooms, so it is not clear where one should leave them in the end of the day unless of course, the man in the women's locker room takes them away. And yes, as she is ready to take a shower and go home, he is still there, cleaning. The routine does not change: she insists that he leaves, he hesitates, saying that he won't bother her (hope not!). Quick shower - before he came back - and out the door. 

Not quite a relaxing experience one expects from a spa, and not anything special worth coming back for.

photo credit: <a href="">ro_buk [I'm not there]</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

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