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Get Your Shvitz on at Coney Island Banya

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Normally, I hate sweating. So I was surprised that I love shvitzing. It turns out, sweating is great when you’re mostly naked in a sauna that smells like sandalwood and oak and there’s a bucket of cold water to dump on your head. It’s not like a gross summer sweat that skanks up your clothes and hair, it’s a refreshing cleanse of toxins in your body. And Halloween being on Sunday, I assume everyone will be loading up on toxins this weekend. So in, quite possibly, the bourgeoisest recommendation I’ve made on this site, you should go to Coney Island Banya to recharge.

The Banya is labeled only by a tiny awning that says “Hot Spot Restaurant” and a sign that says “Banya” on the side of the building. Despite its nonchalant exeterior and the ugliness of Coney Island Avenue, the owner is super friendly and cheerful when she tells you to go upstairs and get naked. She’s also on hand to answer all of your stupid questions about oak branch massages and where to order food througth the day. Last weekend, my bf and I went to celebrate me getting laid off. We ended up staying for six hours, going back and forth between the the dry sauna, wet sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and tiny swimming pool, taking breaks to read the Times, eat potato dumplings, nap on the patio furniture and watch delightful Russian pop videos. I don’t even remember the last time I felt so calm and relaxed in every part of my body. Afterward, we reversed some of the spa’s cleansing properties when we decided to split a can of Four Loko. (And by split a can, I mean we each had 1/4 of a can, cursing each and every medicinal tasting sip). But I’m pretty sure the day of svitzing and relaxing helped the next morning not hurt quite so bad. And Coney Island Banya is one of the most broke-ass friendly spas in the city, a day pass is only $25.

photo from

Coney Island Banya
602 Coney Island Avenue between Beverly Road and Avenue C [Kensington, Brooklyn]

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Kiley E - Ragamuffin Researcher

Kiley E - Ragamuffin Researcher

After years of denial, Kiley has finally admitted to baring a striking resemblance to Velma from Scooby Doo. Instead of traveling in a van hunting ghosts, she prefers wandering on foot in search of tacos, cheap beer, and fake birds. Growing up in Portland, Kiley enjoyed the balance of urban and green spaces. Then she spent her four years at Ithaca College, and found herself craving more sprawling asphalt in her life. So she moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where most of the buildings look like they're about to collapse. Kiley's favorite activities include: getting lost, crafting, sewing, biking, and geeking out at museums. Her love of taxidermy probably makes her a terrible vegetarian, but she doesn't care.