Photos by Brenna Duncan.
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Bucket list Bow: A trip to the Community Sauna Baths

Occupying a traditional 1930s public bathhouse, the Community Sauna Baths are bringing a different kind of Nordic bathing to Hackney Wick

Not to be mistaken for York Hall’s Turkish baths in Bethnal Green, Hackney Wick’s Community Sauna Baths opened at the beginning of 2022 becoming London’s first authentic wood-fired sauna and cold plunge.

The traditional Finnish-style saunas are proving to be extremely popular in the East End, with comedian Grace Campbell spotted braving a cold plunge last month. 

Whether you fancy an early morning sauna session or one to unwind at the end of the day, it makes for a revitalising Thursday outing to get you ready for the weekend. 

The saunas are located in a derelict site at the back of Hackney Wick’s 1930s public bathhouse which you might recognise for its vibrant red doors which used to be two separate entrances for men and women entering the bathhouse. 

Alongside the saunas, The Baths is home to artist studios, events spaces and the female-run Hackney Wick Library of Things.  

The garden next to the saunas hosts DJs throughout the weekend, known for keeping the party going as night falls on a Sunday. 

But in the open-air saunas, things are a little more mellow. With some sauna goers seeking an evening of personal reflection, for others, it is a rare place to catch up with friends that doesn’t involve alcohol.

The saunas occupy an astroturfed space with seven saunas – ranging from converted horse boxes to traditional Finnish styles – arranged around a cluster of whisky barrels now used for cold plunging. 

The saunas vary in size and temperature with the hottest one measuring over 100 degrees Celsius. 

While this might sound like a health hazard rather than a way to unwind, it is said that by rotating between the hot sauna and cold plunge, the ‘Nordic Cyle’ as it is sometimes known, you enhance the experience of both.

Though it might seem counterintuitive to wear a sauna hat, doing so moderates the heat exposure to your head and prevent your ears from getting too hot. It is also considered good sauna etiquette to bring a towel to sit on in the saunas.

A Thursday evening sauna session costs £15 and lasts for 90 minutes, though it will be over before you know it.

If you’re peckish after all of the plunging, the adjacent garden has a pizza truck and hosts various kitchen residencies throughout the summer which you can stay up-to-date with on The Baths’ Instagram. 

And if you enjoy your trip to the sauna, you might like to try an equally novel experience at The Baths this weekend. Every Sunday London’s Ecstatic Dance community gathers at The Baths for a morning of free-form dance and expression. 

For more things to do in Hackney Wick, find our review of Barge East floating restaurant.

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