turkish spa like atmosphere in the heart of downtown Seattle

In my past life, I worked for a cruise line (who shall remain nameless) that had one of the most traditional yet stylishly upscale Turkish bath afloat. In the rare opportunities where I could get on one of those ships for a vacation, my friends would have to drag my pruned body out of the hot and steamy rooms before I wasted through the wooden slats in the floor. But, back on shore, I could never find a Seattle equivalent to the little piece of heaven onboard.

This weekend was a special treat for me, and before I knew it, I was walking into Banya 5, an urban retreat for the mind, body and soul, located in the heart of Seattle at South Lake Union, for a black-olive Moroccan soap exfoliation treatment and oil massage; but this was only the start of things to come. It doesn’t take long to figure out the relaxing benefits of temperature shifts on the body. Heat helps relax and detoxify the body; cold helps to ease pain and invigorate the senses. And this is what you will get with one admittance ticket to Banya 5.

For those who take the “usual” circuit, the first stop is at the “oven” or a 190-degree imitation of one. If that’s “too hot to handle”, you can always opt for the slightly cooler, tile-covered steam shower and bath room. The intense humidity created by the moisture in the warm air relaxes even the most tense of individuals (like me). Next stop…the plunge pool, a down-right cold pool of 55-degree water, which is as cool and refreshing as one can get, especially in the hot Seattle summer months of July and August. The last stop is a hot and bubbly jetted tub which warms the body back up though not as high as the “oven” does in the beginning. This mild warmth brings your frigid body back to regular temperature…no one fancies hypothermia so this latter stop on the rotation should not be skipped.

Now, I attend on a female-only day, which I did not know at first…I thought it odd that many of the women were nude (not the odd part), but that there were no men…It didn’t take me long to figure out that it was a women’s only day, so no nudity on the mixed days, for those deviates of the group. For me, this was perfectly fine.

I miss the Turkish-style drapes and silk-covered, shantung colored floor pillows, but for downtown Seattle, Banya 5 is truly a slice of heaven.
Address: 217 9th Ave N, 98109

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