Warming Up 101: The top five shvitzes in Toronto
As anyone who ventured out today knows, there is a type of cold so terrifically, bone-chillingly brutal that no amount of wool, fleece or goose-down layers will keep it at bay. Luckily, Toronto is home to dozens of spas that specialize in total-body warmth and relaxation. Whether it’s a Jewish shvitz, a Russian banya or a Korean jjimjilbang, the goal is the same: to sit, sweat and loll about in steaming pools and scorching saunas with like-minded strangers (and perhaps get a massage while you’re at it). Here, five places to sweat it out in the city.
1. Hammam Spa
The traditional Turkish steam room at this King Street spa is infused with essential oils designed to increase relaxation. Other services include massages, facials and a special hot-bath treatment where patrons recline on a heated onyx table and are cleansed with hot and cool waters. $55, or $220 for one-month membership.
602 King St. W., 416-366-4772, hammamspa.ca
2. Body Blitz
“Health by water” is the tagline at this women-only spa, which now has two downtown locations. The main draw is a therapeutic system of pools, saunas and steam rooms designed to rejuvenate and detoxify. One full circuit takes about 2.5 hours and involves a few shockingly cold dunks in an icy plunge pool. $44-$54, or $270 for five visits.
471 Adelaide St. W.; 497 King St. E., 416-364-0400, bodyblitzspa.com
Along with regular spa services like body wraps and facials, this uptown Russian banya includes wet and dry saunas, a massive saltwater pool and traditional Russian massage techniques that involve lashing the body with switches of oak leaves and bamboo. Post-steam, patrons can sip sweet tea and snack on borscht, Stroganoff and other traditional Russian plates. $40 or $350 for 10 visits.
1027 Finch Ave. W., 416-739-9797, sandunyspa.com
4. South-Western Bathhouse
This family-run Mississauga business boasts a multicultural melange of steaming options: a Russian banya heated by a massive brick stove, a Turkish hammam adorned with cool mosaic tiles and a dry Finnish sauna made of cedar and pine. $30 or $250 for 10 visits.
2200 Dundas St. E., 289-232-6088, banya.ca
5. Seoul Zimzibang
Zimzibang claims to be the first authentic Korean sauna complex in the GTA. Patrons don comfy gym-style uniforms and spend as long as they like lounging in seven sauna rooms tiled with gold, jade, crystal and other minerals alleged to have healing properties. $20.
382 Magnetic Dr., 416-514-1965, ilovesauna.com