Russian Baths in New Jersey
Address: 165 Amboy Rd, Morganville, Marlboro, NJ 07751
Hours: Mon-Fri: 1pm-11pm, Sat-Sun: 9am-11pm
Facilities: River Rock and Granite Russian style saunas, Turkish steam room, cold plunge and contrast showers
The only Russian spa that has beautifully landscaped backyard, where people can relax under the birches or dive in the snow in winter and sunbathe during warm seasons!
Bear and Birch banya in FreeHold, NJ
Address: 6 Paragon Way, Freehold, NJ 07728
Hours: Mon-Fri: 12pm - 10pm (Tue from 3pm), Sat-Sun: 10am-12am
Admission: $30 (10am - 5pm), $45 (5pm - 10pm)
Peter Kizenko quit Goldman Sachs, had a bath made in Russia and shipped it to US. The goal was to have a "mixture of the contemporary and the classical of Sanduny in Moscow". The banya was opened in 2012. Finally many Russians in the area have a quality banya to go.
BRC Sauna and Spa in Fair Lawn, NJ (aka Delphi)
Pros: No crowds, variety of steam rooms, clean, new, generous pool
Cons: Half an hour drive from Manhattan
Conclusion: The best Russian banya around New York.
Address: 24-20 Broadway Fair Lawn, New Jersey, 07410
(Corner of Broadway and Plaza Road)
Map: Google , Yahoo
Hours: Mon-Fri: 11am - 11pm, Sat-Sun: 10am-11pm
Admission: $30 + tax
Facilities: Russian dry(?) sauna, Russian wet sauna, Turkish room, swimming pool, cold plunge, restaurant
BRC Sauna and Spa is located in New Jersey half an hour away from Manhattan (it would probably take an hour from Brooklyn). On Saturday to my surprise I have found the BRC Sauna and Spa not overcrowded - such a relief from the stuffed banyas in the city. The whole facility is situated in a basement of a boring commercial building on a busy street, so no windows there and one with a habit of snowbathing after a steam room would have to do it in a parking lot. (I just miss Seagate).
On a front desk one receives free slippers, but a robe is extra five bucks. The towels are abundant across the banya and the locker room is clean and spacious.
Interior is very pleasant - it starts a bit pompous with sculptures and marble, but inside there are funny colorful pictures of fat, sleepy, distinctly Russian women eating and drinking tea. And the self-irony of these pictures reverses the pretentiousness of the place into something very likeable.
The BRC Sauna and Spa layout is well thought with steam rooms out of sight, a great long and narrow pool in the center part and sitting area around it. The pool is nicely separated from the sitting area with interior wall and windowed doors. The restaurant is adjacent to the pool, but people seem to prefer eating in the banya's sitting area. The food and drinks are typical to Russian place. Visitors who gather in the back of the spa bring their own thermoses and the owners don't seem to object.
BRC Sauna and Spa has four steam rooms: normal Russian (they call it "Russian Dry"), shvitz ("Russian Wet"), dry sauna and Turkish.
Dry sauna which they call "Aromatherapy Sauna" is a total failure. The temperature is lukewarm, so it may be a good place to leave your grandma for an hour or two, but otherwise it is hard to rationalize being there. The owners do not even bother adding aromas to "Aromatherapy Sauna" - nobody goes there anyway.
Shvitz ("Russian Wet") on the other hand is decent. As with any other shvitz it is a dump place popular mostly with people who do not care for the quality of steam. But the wooden benches make place cozy, small buckets are clean; and sometimes it is fun to dump a bucket of cold water over the head right in the steam room when the heat becomes intolerable and stay and continue the cycle. It is even more fun to miss your own head and dump it on a cute unsuspecting neighbor (just don't blame me for consequences). Certainly not a substitute for a good Russian steam room, but it does justify its existence.
Turkish room is a pleasant surprise. Turkish rooms in Russian banyas are usually dull places with a couple of loonies lost in the mist. This one is different. The Turkish room was full of citrus aroma from the peaces of orange cautiously places next to steam sockets. The inclined ceiling does not let the water drip on one's head. Steel hand-rails may come handy and look right in this place. On one side or Turkish room there's a railed strip with stones like you would find on a beach. It is a pleasure to walk barefoot on these stones, but I wish they had running water over them, because I could not stop wandering how many people polished their heels on the same stones before me.
There's not much to be said about Russian ("Dry") room. It is the way the proper Russian steam room should be. Right size, right stove, right steam. Cold showers and a cold plunge just outside - perfect.
The whole atmosphere seems relaxed and the crowd is likable. By the way, BRC is an acronym for Broadway Recreation Center - not the smoothest name, but for now it is my favorite banya around New York.
International Steam Bath in Passaic, NJ
Address: 163 Hope Avenue. Passaic, NJ 07055
Map: Google , Yahoo , MSN
Hours: 7 days a week 10am-10pm Men only: Thu all day, Sun 10am-2pm
Venik treatment / Platza: $10 - $15
1 hour massage: $65
Facilities: steam room (shvitz), dry infrared sauna, cold plunge pool, outdoor sun deck, a restaurant
International Steam Bath in Passaic was remodeled in 2002. Uncommon for shvitz, the steam room has wooded benches.
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