Things you may think of when you hear the word Finland: heavy metal, Angry Birds, fjords, saunas. And while Finnish tastes may vary on the first three, the whole country is in agreement about the fourth. In Finland, sauna culture might as well be a religion, so much so that there are an estimated 3.3 million saunas for the 5.5 million residents, though the overwhelming majority of saunas are housed in individual residences.
Löyly is immensely popular for a reason, this award winning spa has views of the Baltic coast, a bar and restaurant serving traditional Finnish food and beverages, and three saunas open to the public.
Bringing sauna culture from private homes to the masses is Löyly, one of a handful of the country’s public saunas and, without a doubt, its most beautiful. Perched on Helsinki’s Baltic coast, Löyly (named after the Finnish word for steam) was designed by Avanto Architects as a Nordic-style space with sleek, minimalist design and eco-friendly function. From the outside, it resembles a geometric mountain made of wood slats. Inside, Löyly features three saunas (one can be privately reserved) and a restaurant serving sustainable Finnish fare, all of which overlooks a terrace that traces the shoreline. The space was the first to earn certification from the Forest Stewardship Council, and recently won the Platinum A’Design award for Architecture, Building and Structure Design.
Appearances notwithstanding, Löyly’s public saunas are popular, generating over 400,000 visitors in the first year and earning a spot on everyone’s must-see Helsinki list. To get in on the action, reserve a two-hour slot ahead of time, especially during warmer months when more visitors crowd the cabins.
Sauna etiquette is simple, in coed spaces like Löyly you’ll be expected to don a swimsuit, but if you’re ever separated by sex prepare to go bare. Either way, you’ll want to shower beforehand and bring a towel inside to sit on. Löyly houses both a traditional smoke sauna and a wood-burning sauna, the latter of which is larger and slightly cooler. Not enough löyly for you? Create extra steam by tossing water on the stoves, which will really heat things up. Most importantly, remember that the sauna isn’t a competition; if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. It’s important to hydrate, whether with a tall glass of water or a pour of the unofficial national drink, lonkero (the official beverage is actually milk.) Lonkero, meaning long drink, is a refreshing mix of gin and grapefruit soda served on tap and over ice from the sauna bar. Enjoy one fireside overlooking the sea.
A cold plunge caps the process, whether into a frozen lake, an icy shower, or, in Löyly’s case, the frigid Baltic Sea. Finns maintain that the jarring change is temperature is good for the heart and body. At the very least, it’s an unforgettable blast.