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  • Writer's pictureDesign for Leisure

Popular Thermal Bathing Cabins

This blog is designed to help you navigate some of the more popular hydrothermal areas in both commercial and residential wellness areas - from the hottest to the coolest spaces. To dive even deeper into this, check out the “Guide to Hydrothermal Spa & Wellness Development Standards” published by the Global Wellness Institute’s Hydrothermal Initiative.


A simple timber cabin with a heat source radiating warmth from the wood-clad walls via heated stones, warmed by electricity or gas, but traditionally by log fires, and normally operating between 70° C and 105° C. Many versions are available, but the most authentic are Kelo log-house saunas, which replicate the early origins of this form of bathing. However, as these are traditionally designed as independent external structures, the sauna has undergone substantial modernization as it has been brought inside spa buildings to form part of a hydrothermal bathing suite.

Infrared Sauna Infrared saunas have grown in popularity in recent years due to their particular health benefits and because they are able to heat a bather’s body without warming the air around it. Infrared radiation is on the longer range of the electromagnetic spectrum – and, because of this, is considered more gentle and comfortable and can penetrate the body’s tissues more deeply.

Russian Banya The term Russian banya literally means Russian bathhouse, but the term has been adopted to refer to the sauna-like room found in a Russian bathhouse. It’s almost identical to a Finnish sauna in design and purpose, however it can have higher rates of humidity and bathers are encouraged to hit themselves or another person with “veniks” or bunches of dried branches and leaves from white birch, oak or eucalyptus trees to help improve circulation. In addition, there is usually an antechamber next to the banya for socializing, playing games and enjoying refreshments.

Steam Bath or Steam Room

Sometimes called a caldarium or sudatorium from its Roman bath equivalent, a steam bath (or steam room) is typically a tiled or stone room reaching temperatures of between 42° C and 48° C with 100% humidity provided by hot steam, which is either created from heated waters in the room itself or, more commonly, pumped into the room using a steam generator. Aromatic extracts of essential oils can be injected concurrently to give the steam bath an added sensory element.

Hamam or Hammam

Also known as “Turkish baths,” or Moroccan hammams, modern hamams are normally larger than a steam bath. Turkish hamams have a traditional heated “göbek tasi,” or, literally, “belly stone,” as their centerpiece. A smaller replica located in an adjacent room will enable bathers to receive the soap massage in private. The heated floor, walls and benches warm the room to 40° C to 42° C with, possibly (but not essentially), 40% to 60% humidity from an independent steam source. An authentic atmosphere is achieved when the room is finished in traditional Turkish “Iznik” tiles and Carrara Blanco marble, although dramatic effects have been created in modern hamams using very different finishes.

Laconium, Tepidarium or Relaxation Spaces

These warm ceramic rooms have temperatures between 30° C to 40° C (tepidariums) or a bit warmer, between 38° C to 45° C, for laconiums. Bathers can relax for long periods of time in comfortable ergonomically designed benches or individual, heated loungers or chairs. The walls, floors and benches are heated to enable deep penetration of the warmth to the body, promoting a feeling of wellbeing and relaxation. Aromas can be introduced via a humidifier to enhance this beneficial treatment and maintain a comfortable atmosphere. Heated loungers are often provided in ceramic or stone (or other impervious finishes) to the quiet spaces in and around the wet areas of the spa, as they are particularly suitable for “wet” relaxation between thermal treatments/baths.

Continue reading about hydrothermal specialty treatment rooms, experience showers and pools here.

And to learn about some of the best ways to get cold after getting hot - and thus increasing the health benefits of your hydrothermal journey by improving your body's vascular health, check out these cold contrast experiences.

To gain a better understanding of some of the more common/popular hydrothermal experiences found in today’s spas and in-home wellness suites, check out DFL’s recent blog posts:


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