Unveiling the Timeless Tradition: The History of Banya

Steeped in tradition and shrouded in mystique, the banya has long been a cornerstone of Eastern European culture. Its origins are as ancient as they are intriguing, offering a glimpse into a world where wellness and communal bonding intersect. Let’s embark on a journey through time to unravel the captivating history of the banya.

The earliest known mention of the banya dates back to 1113 in The ‘Primary Chronicle,’ a historical record of the early East Slavic state. It recounts the visit of the Apostle Andrew to what would later become Russia and Ukraine. His astonishment at encountering wooden bathhouses among the Slavic people paints a vivid picture of this ancient practice. The Apostle observed a ritual of extreme heat, followed by self-flagellation with young reeds and a revitalizing drenching in cold water—a process that seemed almost miraculous in its rejuvenating effects.

Fast forward to the 18th century, and the banya’s significance transcended mere cultural curiosity. Dr. Antonio Nunes Ribeiro Sanches, a Portuguese physician serving as a court physician in Russia, played a pivotal role in elucidating the therapeutic benefits of the banya to Western audiences. In 1779, he shared his insights with fellow medical professionals, asserting the crucial role of the banya in maintaining health and hygiene.

Intriguingly, Dr. Sanches recalled a conversation with none other than Peter the Great, the visionary leader who modernized Russia. When questioning the necessity of training medical doctors for the burgeoning Russian military, Peter famously quipped, “Not for Russia. The banya alone is enough.” This proclamation underscores the profound esteem in which the banya was held, as Peter recognized its unparalleled contributions to the well-being of his people.

Dr. Sanches echoed Peter’s sentiment, emphasizing the therapeutic potential of the banya in promoting good health. He opined that the collective benefits derived from the judicious use of the banya outweighed the interventions of medical professionals—a testament to the profound wisdom embedded within this ancient practice.

Across the centuries, the banya has endured as more than just a place of physical purification; it serves as a sanctuary for spiritual and social rejuvenation. Beyond its therapeutic properties, the banya fosters a sense of camaraderie, where individuals gather to share stories, laughter, and life’s trials and triumphs.

In today’s fast-paced world, where stress and tension abound, the allure of the banya remains as potent as ever. Its timeless appeal transcends borders and cultures, offering a refuge from the chaos of modern life. As we immerse ourselves in the steam and embrace the purifying heat, we not only honor an ancient tradition but also reconnect with our deepest selves and the shared heritage of humanity.

In conclusion, the history of the banya is a testament to the enduring power of tradition and the timeless pursuit of well-being. From its humble origins in wooden bathhouses to its recognition as a cornerstone of holistic health, the banya continues to captivate and inspire all who partake in its ancient rituals. So, the next time you step into the enveloping warmth of a banya, remember that you are not merely entering a sauna; you are embarking on a journey through history, culture, and the boundless potential of the human spirit.

Now Experience the Blow Hot Blow Cold Magic of Banya Forrest in Dubai!

Despite its splendour, Banya Forrest remains accessible to all, extending a warm welcome to guests from across the UAE. Future plans include introducing women-only days and obtaining an alcohol license to enhance the original social aspect of the experience.

Ronak Kotecha

May 4, 2024 – 13:06

Banya Forrest, situated on Dubai’s Bluewaters, seamlessly merges Slavic wellness traditions with contemporary western luxury. Under CEO Artem Avanesov’s management, it delivers the first modernised yet authentic banya experience, featuring spacious Slavic banya chambers, body scrubs and invigorating Venik massages.

Guests can take part in the signature Parenie ritual led by skilled banshchiks, also known as Sauna therapists specially invited from Eastern Europe, benefiting from detoxification, skin rejuvenation and most significantly contrast therapy (Alternating between hot and cold).

The inclusion of lavish amenities such as a state-of-the-art snow room, plunge pools and an allocated VIP Banya elevates the experience. Artem’s visionary leadership ensures excellence and innovation, setting a standard in luxury hospitality.


The sanctuary’s Slavic Restaurant offers a culinary journey through Eastern Europe with a touch of opulence, perfectly complementing the holistic wellness offerings. The outdoor terrace with chic wooden decor features prime views over the Arabian Gulf – a perfect place to relax and dine inbetween sauna sessions.

Despite its splendour, Banya Forrest remains accessible to all, extending a warm welcome to guests from across the UAE.Future plans include introducing women-only days and obtaining an alcohol license to enhance the original social aspect of the experience. Whether guests seek ancient rituals, modern indulgence, or just a good time with friends, Banya Forrest invites them on a transformative wellness journey unlike any other.

Discover relaxation and rejuvenation at Banya Forrest. Learn more at www.banyaforrest.com and @banya_forrest.


В Дубае на искусственном острове Bluewaters открылась первая в эмирате русская баня Banya Forrest. Как сообщил RTN ее генеральный директор Артем Аванесов, Дубай не случайно был выбран как место, наиболее подходящее для популяризации традиционной русской бани: в эмирате высокая концентрация экспатов, большая русскоговорящая аудитории. Да и привыкли местные жители и проживающие здесь иностранные граждане, что в Дубае постоянно появляется что-то новое – отели, рестораны, парки развлечений.

«А теперь есть и настоящая парная. Мы хотим познакомить весь мир с традициями русской бани и решили начать с ОАЭ. Запрос на это есть, прежде всего, у русскоговорящих дубайцев. Они так и говорят – «как же мы соскучились по бане, как нам ее не хватает». Местное население в принципе очень любит все, что связано со здоровьем, спа и оздоровительными процедурами. Помимо этого, при выборе локации важно было учитывать еще три фактора: доступность для резидентов премиум и люксового уровня, престиж места и инженерные требования, так как вес печей составляет около 45 тонн, и далеко не каждый объект в Дубае подходит для их установки», – пояснил он.

Банный комплекс рассчитан, в первую очередь, на постоянное использование туристами и жителями районов Bluewaters, JBR, Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeirah, Emirates Hills Блувотерс, JBR, Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeirah, Emirates Hills.

«Хотим сделать русскую баню популярным, модным и известным продуктом наравне с йогой, акупунктурой, спа и другими общепринятыми процедурами во всем мире. Мы установили настоящую монолитную печь, которая позволяет гостям париться неудушающим и поистине «легким» паром. Предлагаем общие «вкусные пары»: это процедуры, наполненные ароматами хмеля, травяных настоев, запахом степи и лугов, которые создают в парной атмосферу благополучия и расслабления. Также делаем индивидуальные парения, помывки, скрабирования и массажи – в мокрой зоне и классические. Есть снежная комната и ведерный душ с ледяной водой», – рассказал Аванесов.

Интерьер бани выполнен в натуральном стиле, с использованием бревенчатых стен, сквозь которые пробивается мох, много настоящей зелени. В комплексе работает ресторан славянской домашней кухни: повара готовят борщи и квас, лепят пельмени и вареники, варят раков. Из России были выписаны и банщики.

Banya Forrest вмещает 70 гостей плюс вип-зона на 20 человек. Помещение состоит из двух зон: публичная и вип-баня. Входной билет в публичную зону стоит 315 дирхам ОАЭ (около 8 тыс. рублей) с человека за стандартным столиком, кабинка на 4 человек обойдется в 2,1 тыс. дирхам (53,3 тыс. рублей). В стоимость входит банный халат, тапочки, полотенце и банная шапка. Дополнительные услуги оплачиваются отдельно.

Русская баня в Дубае работает первый месяц, но уже появились постоянные клиенты, которые приходят каждую неделю. Установлен своего рода рекорд посещаемости – 120 человек в день, но в среднем Banya Forrest посещают около 50 человек в день.

«Естественно, как мы и ожидали, первыми пришли русскоговорящие клиенты, однако мы уже принимаем граждан Саудовской Аравии, Японии, Америки, Великобритании, Китая, Италии и других стран», – подчеркнул Аванесов.

Наталья Панферова

Фото Кати Асквит

Banya Forrest Review: What’s it like at Dubai’s first traditional Slavic Banya?

The soon-to-be licensed location includes saunas, snow rooms and a Slavic restaurant.

Forget about the ice bucket challenge. Banya Forrest has opened on Bluewaters. The new Slavic spa is the first fully equipped traditional Slavic banya in the United Arab Emirates. For those unversed in the tradition of banya, the experience hit the headlines for its ice-cold bucket showers. If you want to channel your inner Wim Hof, get ready to be refreshed.

Not to be confused with the adjacent Banyan Tree Dubai hotel, Banya Forrest is a social bathhouse experience. Insta gimmicks aside, it offers a way to relax and unwind and represents a vital bonding place in Slavic culture. The venue embraces the forestry of its name, and guests enter into a cosy reception area resembling a log cabin, with chopped timber lining the walls and patches of moss bursting through. This immersion into the ‘wild’ promotes relaxation, which continues into the modern changing room where you’re armed with slippers, cosy robes and hats to help regulate body temperatures once inside the banya. Forget Ravi X adidas or Hello Kitty X Rascals; Banya Forrest’s pixie hats are this spring’s must-have merch.

Banya Forrest Review
Photo by Katya Asquith

Banya Forrest’s wet area facilities include the largest banya sauna in the MENA region, a cold plunge pool (set to a chilly seven degrees), traditional ice bucket showers and a snow room where snowflakes tumble gracefully from the ceiling before collecting in clumps on the floor. The space can accommodate 70 guests, although a VIP experience for 20 people is available. Staff are friendly throughout and happy to guide newbies through the banya experience, which involves subjecting the body to extreme heat and cold, also known as contrast therapy.

Banya Forrest Review
Photo by Katya Asquith

Banyas are typically made of wood and heated by a wood-fired stove. The heat and steam can help to loosen tight muscles, improve circulation, and relieve pain. Banyas are also believed to boost the immune system and help clear the respiratory system, offering a great way to relax and de-stress. Banya Forrest prides itself on its traditional Eastern European techniques dating back to the 11th century. The in-house banshchik (bath superintendents) will perform a Parenie Ritual, which involves brushing and massaging guests with soaked leaf veniks to help stimulate circulation and improve skin health. These bathhouse masters have been brought to Dubai from Russia for their specialism.

Banya Forrest Dubai
Photo by Katya Asquith

Following a sauna session, guests should douse themselves with water from the suspended ice buckets before plunging into the cool pool and caressing themselves with snow from the snow room. It’s a sharp shock to the system, but it will leave them feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

Banya Forrest Dubai
Photo by Katya Asquith

The process is repeated over the course of several hours, with breaks for lounging. As it is traditional to drink beer in an Eastern European banya experience, Banya Forrest is soon-to-be licensed, and yes, you can drink and dine in your robes and slipper (#lifegoals). The onsite restaurant offers traditional Slavic cuisine such as calf liver with buckwheat porridge (AED 115), signature crayfish with dill and lemon (AED 150) and homemade pelmeni dumplings stuffed with beef and chicken (AED 65). The traditional Borscht (AED 75) is highly recommended, as is the layered Honey Cake with blackcurrant (AED 65).

Banya Forrest Review
Photo by Katya Asquith

Above the restaurant lies treatment rooms where guests can make a day of it and indulge in body scrubs, body washes and massages. An outside terrace overlooking the Arabian Gulf features woven mats, fringed parasols, low-slung sofas and sun beds. When the sun sets, it’s an ideal spot for dinner and drinks, and congratulating yourself on completing the challenge.

Go on, take the plunge.

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