It’s never a bad time to get rid of accumulated toxins. One way to detoxify is to sweat it out. Saunas can help with this. They also help increase metabolism, improve circulatory health, boost cardiovascular function, promote deeper sleep, help with stress management and generally bolster immune function. It’s also just nice to slip into a hot space for a 20 minute reprieve from the cold. To help get you passively sweating, check out these coordinates…
FANCY | Most hotel spas also have steam and sauna facilities. As this is a more expensive path, we’re only going to mention our favourite: The steam room at the Willow Stream at The Fairmont Pacific Rim is a real stunner (and the fact that the RawBar at the Lobby Lounge serves a mean bowl of nourishing miso soup for a post-steam pick-me-up is a welcome perk of the location). Non-Hotel guests can pay $79 (Mon-Thu) to drop in and enjoy the space based on availability, but all day spa facility access is included with any spa service 60 minutes in length – might as well go all the way, right? For reservations (required) call 604-695-5550. (We haven’t been, but we also hear that the The Wedgewood Hotel Eucalyptus & Lemongrass Steam Room is amazing.)
BASIC | Both the YWCA and YMCA have steam and hot tub facilities in their pool areas. Membership is required if you want to avoid the drop-in entrance fee of $15-17, but the annual fee is pretty reasonable. $61-65 per month gets you access to all facilities as well as group fitness programs for the year. Towel service ($12 per month) is a nice touch.
OLD SCHOOL | Operating since 1926, Hastings Reflexology & Sauna (formerly Hastings Steam & Sauna) is not quite the potted orchid and scented candle kind of spa that some of the stock photography on their website may lead you to believe, but as long as you are realistic about what a 90+ year old public bath house can deliver, it is a good experience. The price point here is more expensive than a community centre fee, it is also cleaner and less crowded. A standard 1.5 hour booking for a private room will run you $25-ish dollars. In addition to the small private saunas on the main floor, a new ‘Reflexology Centre’ with 2 large (female / male segregated) saunas were added on the lower level in August 2019. To access the new facility, you need to book a treatment (intro rate of $43 will get you a 50 minute foot reflexology treatment and 70 minute steam/sauna access). Towel service available. To book a reservation, call 604-251-5455.
ECLECTIC | Not sure if you’re in to a Finnish, Turkish or Russian style of steam? Maybe a Himalayan Salt or Dry Aroma experience would be more your speed? Take yourself out to Burnaby to visit The Art Of Sauna and sample them all. Bonus: this facility os located a quick walk from Handworks Coffee Studio, a great place to stop for a post-steam snack.
PUBLIC | Many City of Vancouver Community Centres with pools also offer access to a hot tub, sauna or steam room. Recreation Centres come with some drawbacks (crowds and the occasional floating Band-Aid come to mind), but at $6/$7 for drop-in admission, early morning through to evening hours and multiple locations, this option gets points for price and convenience. We’ve pinned a few of our favourite locations in the map here, but also check out a full list of COV facilities with sauna and steam rooms here).
UBC AQUATIC | For those living off campus, The UBC Aquatic Centre does take a little travel time to get to, but this recently renovated and stunningly designed facility is a great place to sweat. Outfitted with a steam room and a sauna (as well as a 34-person family friendly hot tub and two swimming pools), the cost of admission hovers around $6, depending on the time of day.
DEAL | Unless you live in Coquitlam, you need to factor in some time to get to this option, but with both wet and dry saunas, a salt room, a charcoal room, and an earth room AND an $18 admission fee that gives you access to all, JJ Family Spa is a real winner on the value front. Additional services include Korean-style massages, facials and body scrubs at reasonable rates.
INFRARED | Although temperatures in infrared saunas do not get hot enough to qualify as a traditional sauna, Gastown’s Thermalab deserves a mention on this list because they deliver on price, cleanliness, privacy and location. One 35 minute infrared session in a private sauna will run you $50 (includes a private shower, built in TV and sound system, towel service, filtered water, flavored electrolytes & lounge access). Sign up for a 3 month package and that price drops to $39. (Bring a friend or two for $10 each). A great place to unwind. Find out more.
DAY TRIP | Also worth considering: Scandinave Spa at Whistler requires some travel time, but with a eucalyptus steam, wood burning and Finnish saunas, Nordic cold showers and cold plunge baths as well as outdoor fireplaces and a solarium and a strict no speaking policy, we think Scandinave is well worth the drive!
Did we miss your favourite sauna or steam room? Let us know in the comments below.