Having worked in Russia for many years and having a Russian wife in Irina, it seemed natural that we would eventually decide to build ourselves a Russian banya at Ysgubor Bach. We wanted to bring a little bit of Russian tradition to Wales and offer its facilities to our guests as an optional extra.

Relax in the company of your family or friends with your own exclusive use of our traditional banya cabin.

Going to banya is a very Old Russian custom and often was, and is regarded as a way of getting rid of illnesses - it was called the "people's first doctor'"(vodka was the second, raw garlic the third).

A banya is a Russian sauna, and is different to what we in the UK are used to as a banya has about 60% humidity, about the same level we breathe every day, and the temperatures usually do not exceed 80°C/180°F. This is much healthier than the hot and dry sauna air that is normally experienced here in the UK, as that dries your throat and skin. The quality of the banya experience relies heavily on the stove and we have installed a traditional wood fired one burning traditional silver birch logs. When the stones get extremely hot, water thrown on to them provides the ideal balance of heat and humidity and the steam then purifies the body, which provides numerous benefits.  A banya experience leaves the skin feeling very soft and provides for a very effective detoxification of the body, while also relieving stress and fatigue. Through perspiration the skin cleanses itself of impurities, and the heat that causes the body to sweat relaxes the muscles and consequently relieves muscular aches and pains.

There is a wall mounted and plumbed in pine bucket with a pull rope containing some chilling water to counteract the heat of the steam room. Stand underneath, close your eyes, breath in, pull the rope and you are drenched in the cold water. The sudden change of temperature has a highly beneficial effect on the body – all toxins are released, and a feeling of relief and tingling lightness follows shortly after.  After finishing the banya, you will end up feeling ten years younger with skin soft and smooth like a baby’s!

It's not just the steam that makes a Russian banya unique, but also what you do with it. It's very different from a sauna and it can be full of action.

An essential part of a traditional Russian bath is the venik, which is a leafy, fragrant bundle of birch or oak tree twigs. This is used to provide a thermal massage that improves blood circulation, intensifies skins capillary activities and metabolism, and the essential oils released by the venik improve metabolism and prevent premature ageing of the skin.  If you wish to indulge yourself in this famous and extraordinary "venik" massage, they are available for purchase and can be used three or four times.

For your enjoyment, the banya also has a toilet, a changing area, and there is a cosy rest area where you can simply relax or socialise with family or friends with some juice or freshly made herbal tea to complete your experience. If required a selection of traditional Russian food can be prepared and served to you for eating in the banya.

How to enjoy your banya.
Leave your clothes in the changing area, slip on a bathing suit, and have a shower to quickly wash yourself before the actual bath. No need to scrub yourself, just wash off the sweat. Put on a pair of flip-flops or a pair of slippers - and off you go - you are ready for a steam room

• If you have bought a venik you have to prepare it by soaking it in a bucket of water for usually 10 - 20 minutes.

• Take a sheet to sit on it in the steam room. If you don't have a hat, take another towel to wrap around your head and enter to the steam room for the first round. Good manners require that the sauna door is open for only a short amount of time to keep the heat inside.

• The first round is just a warm-up so don't push yourself too hard just yet. You may choose a higher bench if you desire a hotter experience or a lower level bench for a more moderate temperature.

• Leave the steam room when you feel hot enough and cool off by taking a shower or just by sitting in room temperature or outside.

• Have a rest for about 10 minutes.

• Once you feel ready for a second round, go to the steam room again. Now you can take your venik with you. You may massage yourself or lie on the wooden bench and ask a companion to massage you. Although the venik technique can become pretty sophisticated, in it's simplest form it is just a rhythmic gentle waggling. After soaking, the leaves and branches become soft, so it feels like a pleasant massage. For those who don’t like to be massaged, it is fine to concentrate on sweating.

• Push yourself a bit and when you feel it is too hot to tolerate it anymore, go out and pull the rope on the bucket and cover yourself with cold water. Ice-cold water comes as a bit of a shock to the body, but endure it to experience the Russian bath to the fullest and you will have a fantastic tingling sensation in your skin. Now find a chair, and relax.

• Relax and then repeat the hot-cold cycle as many times as you feel comfortable with. Russians usually take about 3-5 cycles, but you have to listen to your body.

Before putting on clean clothes allow enough time for cooling off, otherwise the sweating may still continue. Also watch out not to get cold since the body is in a more "sensitive" state after the bath than normally.

The main rule: Do not rush and DON’T OVERDO IT. You should take regular breaks from the steam room to rehydrate and cool down in the relax area. Simple principle: Spend 10-15min in the steam room and then relax for 20-30min drinking herbal tea, juice, or even beer if you like.

Time in the steam room + DOUBLE time in rest & relaxation lounge.
Repeat this cycle as required complementing with treatments. You do not have to use the bucket after every visit to steam room, but you should after a venik treatment. 

It is advisable to bring flip-flops as the floor of the steam room can get quite hot and swimwear is required.  You will probably find soap and shampoo in the shower, but again, you may prefer to take yours instead. Some people also take their robes to keep them worm between rounds.

A visit to the banya cabin includes up to 3 hour’s use of the Russian banya, and the provision of one cotton sheet and one towel per person for your comfort.

The banya is heated by a wood-fired stove and takes 2-3 hours to reach its operating temperature so 24 hours notice is required for us to prepare it for you to maximize your enjoyment.  Once you start bathing it may be

Avoid the most common errors

• Do not drink alcohol (wine or liqueur) while bathing. Alcohol and heat have a cumulative effect increasing the load on the heart, and take it easy if drinking beer.

• Cold drinks slow down the sweating. Drink hot tea instead.

• Do not eat much, since heat makes the blood rush from internal organs to the skin and for proper digestion the opposite is needed.

• Exercise caution if your health is not at its best

• The steam room is not the best place for vigorous exercises

• Do not compete with friends or more experienced bathers while in a steam room. Listen to your body.

• Do not throw too much water on the stones. If stones are not hot enough, the steam becomes heavier and is not so enjoyable to breathe.

• Try to lie while in a steam room. If you stay seated, the difference in temperature between your head and feet can be quite dramatic and you wouldn't want to overheat your head.  If your head feels hot, wrap a towel around it.

• Make sure that you get plenty of rest time between the rounds in steam room.

• Sorry no hen or stag parties accepted.

A 3-hour banya session costs £20 per person (min 2 persons), and a towel and sheet per person are provided. All you need bring are a swimsuit and a pair of flip-flops, and a bathrobe if you wish. Children are welcome to experience the banya also (over 10 HALF-PRICE and under 10 FREE) but must be carefully supervised at all times.
A birch (£5) venik may also be purchased and instructions on its use can be provided, and we have felt hats for rent (£2) if required. More Information

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- Ysgubor Bach
- Russian Banya
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Contacts & Location

Ysgubor Bach,
LL53 8LL

[e] enq@ysguborbach.co.uk

[t] 01758 760457