Sauna House Review: ‘Hot, Cold, Relax, Repeat’

The Sauna House offers one of Asheville’s most relaxing wellness experiences. It’s my go-to place to rest and unwind, and spending a couple of hours there on a Friday night is one of my favorite ways to start the weekend. It’s also an excellent place for a date night, a girls’ night out, or even a mother-and-daughter outing (14+). 

The idea of the Sauna House’s contrast therapy is simple and super effective: “hot, cold, relax, repeat.” You can expect 185-200°F in the traditional saunas and 48°F in the plunges. No matter how I feel when entering the bathhouse (it can be intense on a Friday, believe me), I always leave feeling rested, rejuvenated, energized, and fully in the present.

The word sauna is Finnish in origin and translates to “bath” or “bathhouse” in English. The sauna is a millenary practice that originated in Northern Europe and that shows many similarities to other traditional sweat lodge experiences around the world, like the “temazcal” in Mexico. It has many benefits, including supporting cardiovascular health, boosting immunity, and improving cognitive function.

Sauna House in Asheville Facade
All images courtesy of Sauna House

The cold plunge, on the other hand, increases focus and mental clarity and boosts metabolism. Perhaps the most immediate, visible effect of the Asheville Sauna House wellness experience is its de-stressing properties because of stress’s role in our general health. 

Here you can learn more about how hot-cold contrast therapy can improve your life. Please keep in mind that this is a phone-free environment, which adds to the health benefits of the experience.

You can visit the public bathhouse or book a private sauna room for you and your group. They also offer an infrared sauna cabin (similar benefits with less heat) and host sound healing parties and other events you can enjoy while using the bathhouse (Sauna Disco, anyone? Dance and sweat your worries away every Thursday from 8-10 pm!). 

Your bathhouse booking includes a two-hour visit, with the option of adding an extra hour for an additional charge and a towel, with more available for rent. After check-in, you must leave your shoes in a cubby (bring flip-flops if you don’t want to walk barefoot) and turn off your phone. You can also book an hour-long Hot Lap visit, available only on weekdays until 4 pm.

If this is your first time, the staff will show you around. I usually interact with Christine, who is amazing, but everyone is very welcoming and walks around with a huge smile. I’m always excited to support a business that creates a happy culture with its employees. Plus, the Sauna House is a sustainable business.

There are changing rooms, lockers to leave belongings (including your phone), and private, roomy showers with Dr. Bronner’s soap and conditioner. They also sell excellent local CBD beverages, kombucha, and hot tea. 

Now, let’s enter the bathhouse! The first step is showering with soap to clean off everything you brought with you on your skin. This is an excellent opportunity to change into your required bathing suit and set an intention before entering the sauna.

The upstairs level is where the social action is. So, this is perfect for groups or if you want to make new friends. I’ve had profound, funny, fabulous conversations with strangers in this space. Here, you’ll find a traditional aspen wood sauna (wet sauna), a cold plunge pool, and super comfy lounging furniture where you can let go and listen to awesome tunes. The water bottle filling station is here, too.

This is how your experience will look: First, you get into the sauna and spend as much time there as you want. The recommended time is 15 minutes, but always listen to your body. Then, you shower to rinse off the sweat and enter the cold plunge without letting much time pass. Don’t think about it. Just do it and remember to breathe intentionally.  

Doesn’t it sound super fun? Well, maybe not, and I must admit it can be shocking the first few times, and you might wonder, “Why am I paying to do this?” But then you’ll feel amazing – trust me. 

To give you an idea, I spent 6 minutes in the cold water the last time I went to the bathhouse – my absolute record. I felt so ecstatic I couldn’t stop laughing for a long time (for real). If the cold plunge feels too intense, you can always take a cold shower instead, and you’ll still feel fabulous. 

Andrew, the founder of Sauna House, said this motivated him to open his business: “It’s physiologically impossible to feel the same after trying sauna with a cold plunge. After my first time, I couldn’t get it out of my mind and realized people need access to this, so we decided to build our first facility.” Thank you, Andrew!

While the upstairs space is conceived with social wellness in mind, the downstairs level is a nearly silent area. Folks are encouraged to keep conversations to a minimum. The water of the downstairs cold plunge is slightly colder (it’s smaller than the one upstairs), and the (quiet) lounging area has two swings, which are my favorite part of the bathhouse. 

Do you love silence? Join the Silent Sauna every Tuesday from 9 am to 11 am for a deeper meditative experience.

The “Private Hot-Cold-Relax” rooms offer 1-hour 45-minute appointments with a traditional sauna, cold plunge, and a red light therapy panel. You can use it solo or bring a friend for no extra charge. 

The Infrared Sauna Cabin provides similar health benefits to traditional saunas at gentler temperatures. Think 185-200°F versus 135-155°F. While you’ll have space to change and stretch, your booking doesn’t give you access to the public bathhouse.

If you love going to the Sauna House in Asheville, you can get memberships and packages that will give you a better deal for your money. Also, they sell fantastic bath and personal care products, including lotions, bath soaks, candles, and oils (check them out here). While reservations are encouraged, especially during the weekend, walk-ins are also welcome on a first-come, first-served basis.

So, now you have tried the sauna and the plunge. Please remember to rest and notice how your body feels before entering the sauna again. If it’s your first time, take it easy with both the hot and the cold; building strength to be in a scorching environment and then jump in icy water can take a little time, and you were not born in Finland, Estonia, or Latvia where kids grow using the sauna! 

Focus on enjoying the experience, resting mindfully, and having fun at the Sauna House.

Sauna House: 230 Short Coxe Ave, Asheville

Have you been to the Sauna House? We’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your experience in the comments below!


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