Finland’s sauna scene as hot as ever

July 3, 2016

Helsinki’s public saunas refused to throw in the towel to developers and are flourishing. Paul Hirons visits trendy spas and tiny shacks, and makes a dash to Lapland

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In the locker room of Sauna Hermanni, one of the few remaining public saunas in Helsinki, I bumped into Paul, an octogenarian who was cooling down after his weekly steam clean, reading his newspaper dressed only in a saggy white vest. I asked him why he came here every week, and after a moment’s contemplation, he said with a shrug: “I couldn’t imagine life without it.”

For Finns, life without sauna is unthinkable, but for it to survive against competing leisure activities and an ever-quickening pace of life, it has had to adapt and diversify.

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One sweat-drenched man whispered to me as he went back in: ‘This sauna’s for the hardcore’

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