The following review is about he Turkish Bath inside the Ironmonger Row Baths:
I'd been seeing reviews popping up about the newly renovated baths and so being a big fan of sauna and the accompanying relaxed atmosphere, I ventured out here.
Being German, I'm used to being naked around other people and so I was a bit surprised to see men and women wearing swimming costumes inside the sauna area. (I guess the Victorian values are still ruling in certain areas of modern society :-) But that didn't really made me enjoy my stay any less.
The name Turkish bath may be a bit misleading; what this is is a collection of 4-5 different heated rooms: some very hot and dry, some hot and steamy, others mildly heated and inviting for a chat. On top of that there's a spacious quiet area with comfortable lounge chairs and blankets to keep you warm...plus a selection if newspapers and magazines that will keep you updated on the latest fashion! They also offer some tea, water and fresh fruit.
You pay a rather hefty entrance fee of £25, but that will at least let you stay there as long as you want. Also, they supply you with a robe, towel and slippers. So basically, you don't need to bring anything else. Well, your swimming costume...unless you go on one of the men only or women only days, when you can go steaming in your birthing suits!
I should first clarify that this is for the spa London inside the gym. Gym is great.
NEVER AGAIN!! I never tend to write reviews but mostly, life is good. I figured I'd try the place for a manicure, pedicure and waxing as it's close to my flat and in my gym. The manicurist was very nice and pleasant but the set up is awful. It's in one of the massage rooms so you're awkwardly laying on the table while trying to put you feet in the bucket of water. The manicure is done across the table while you sit in an office chair. The room is cold (I would have hated to be naked for a massage). The gel is all over my finger tips and bubbly on the thumbs (she was very nice to try and repair twice and then I gave up asking).
I can't comment on the waxing as they told me it would be a bit of a wait as the wax needed to heat up. This was after I had already been there 2 1/2 hours and was 20 mins past the originally scheduled time.
One of the priciest manicures I've gotten and by far one of the worst. And now I need to find a place to remove the gel.
Ironmonger row baths first opened in 1931 as a public bathing facility and contained a large swimming pool, a gym, a turkish bath a as well as individual baths for many people who didn't have their own bathtubs back then. The 'bathrooms' were later replaced by a public laundry facility. In 2010 it closed for refurbishment (it needed it). Now after more than two years it's finally reopened so was keen to check it out.
The outside of the building has been spruced up. The new entrance is now on the south side. Inside it's been totally modernised while preserving the original staircases and some of the architectural features.
On this visit I didn't manage to sample the pool since I was short on time and wanted to try the turkish bath. I was welcomed on arrival by friendly staff and went downstairs to the spa area. This part of the facility has been completely rebuilt and is now run by Spa London. It costs £25 (a lot more than before the refurb) but is now a top notch facility. Inside it's brand new and there are two herbal saunas, two aroma steam rooms with those changing colour lights, an ice fountain, monsoon surround shower, a cold plunge pool and the turkish bath zone with marble slabs and three dry heated rooms, tepidarium, caldarium, laconium. There's also a relaxation room in the middle.
The sauna and steam rooms were excellent and a proper plunge pool is a must but the three rooms in the turkish bath weren't hot enough, even the hottest was only gently warm, perhaps they are still calibrating the temperature. A nice treat to spend a few hours unwinding on a chilly winter day.
On the way out I checked out the observation gallery for the 30m pool (also a 15 m training pool with moveable floor). It's completely new and super clean so look forward to trying that next time. There's also a gym but didn't get a chance to see inside but overall the facilities appear to be well designed and to a high standard.
I like the way they have preserved the original 1920s building and have even kept the public laundry, in the spirit of municipal provision of facilities for the locals, so in theory you could put a load of washing in and then go for a swim. It's an interesting piece of London history that's been successfully updated and preserved at the same time.
Wow, this was exactly what I needed. Being a true winter hater, who shivers with cold all the time in the improperly thermo-isolated rented London apartment, a visit to sauna can always make waiting for the summer a bit more bearable. And if the vouchers are purchased at a discount price from Groupon, making the three hour experience for two people costing only 10 pounds per person, it is even better.
But honestly, if the facility was as bad as for example saunas at the Highbury Pool, I wouldn't have been all that happy.
Thankfully, the sauna and steam bath section at the Ironmonger Row Baths has everything I expect a proper relaxation and revitalization facility to offer. First of all, they only accept a limited number of bookings making sure the saunas, steam baths and relaxation rooms are not crowded.
The facility is perfectly clean and renovated. Upon arrival, you receive a towel, slippers and a bathrobe, so the only thing you need not to forget is your swim wear, shampoo and soap.
After going through the changing rooms, you enter the calm and pleasant area equipped with two dry saunas, two steam rooms and a Turkish bath section. And it is just amazing. The small details like changing dim coloured lights and muted music can really help you to forget everything and just enjoy. When you have enough of warming up, you can choose your preferred way to cool off. I really like the plunge pool (though it might have been a bit colder), but the monsoon shower, ice fountain or the nice old fashioned bucket of ice cold water above your head are also worth trying.
As every sauna lover knows, to fully enjoy the health benefits of sauna, you need to allow enough time after every heating up and cooling off to relax. Many saunas I have been to in my life failed to provide for that, with the relaxation zone being either too noisy, too cold or not available at all.
In the case of the Ironmonger Row Baths, this is a real strength. The relaxation lounge is just perfect. The single beds are arranged in pairs to allow for some intimacy with a small table situated in between them. Water with lemon, two varieties of tea and some fruit is available for free, providing fully for another important aspect - re-hydration.
Every bed has a small lamp above, so if you want to read, you can do so without disturbing those who fell asleep. And in case you are cold, blankets are available.
Honestly, I can't wait to go there again.
The only minor problem I noticed was missing toilet paper in the bathroom.
And after being a little bit taken aback last year in the German "City of Spa" Baden-Baden, where they don't allow people to wear swim suit in sauna (yes, you have to be there completely naked and there are both men and women altogether), I really appreciate that wearing a swim suit is a norm in Ironmonger Row Baths.
Ironmonger Row Baths was recently renovated so it's all still quite nice and new and clean. I just use the pool so don't know much about the other facilities but would love to try the spa.
As for the pool, changing rooms are good: there's private cubicles for both showering and changing and plenty of lockers which return a £1 coin. Only bad experience I had here was one day the hot water wasn't working which considering it was practically snowing outside, was pretty painful.
The pool is a great length (30.5m) I believe but doesn't have that many lanes and can feel pretty cramped especially after work time. Lanes are organized into slow, medium and fast but that doesn't always work too well, especially when lanes are further limited with swimming lessons. If you're a woman a good time to go is after 1930 on a Tuesday when it's women only and the pool suddenly empties out.
Staff on the front desk are very friendly and helpful.
If you haven't tried a Turkish bath before, I highly recommend this place as a starting point. Housed in a listed 30s building, it has been rated one of the top baths in the country. I went here with my mother a few years ago and had no idea what to expect. Well, actually, my expectations were lots of naked bodies and sitting on an unsuspecting stranger's lap due to limited visibility.
Luckily, these baths mostly alternate their days to be all male or all female. so they'll be no embarrassing faux pas, and you can feel free to strip off if your swimsuit is one too many layers to bear.
There are 3 hot rooms, one steam room and an icy plunge pool. Apparently research has shown that alternating your body temperature is very good for the circulation and skin, and this is especially true if you choose to have a professional body scrub or massage.
My favourite part - lying on the marble slab. My least favourite part - the ice plunge pool! Prepare to feel very woozy but extraordinarily relaxed after 3 hours here. For £7.70 it's well worth it.
Tuesdays and each alternate day are for women, and vice versa throughout the week. Mondays are mixed if you don't mind getting up close and personal with a stranger or perhaps if you want to go as a pair.
This is a great place to go with the girls for some relaxation.
Basically a series of rooms with a cold plunge pool, steam room and different temperature saunas. You can also use the lap pool while you're here.
Details can be found on their website:
Nakedness rules on non-mixed days. So you can come in your bathing suit but you'll feel pretty silly since you will likely be the only one. So be sure that your companions are cool with nakedness, other people's as well as yours. Be prepared to see not only lots of nakedness but as Seinfeld says "bad naked". Women will be stretching, squatting, scrubbing. Luckily having grown up a swimmer this did not faze me at all.
Also, do spend the extra £5 deposit and get a towel. Otherwise be sure to bring at least 2 of your own - one to wear/cover up with that will get all soaked with your sweat, plus one to dry off with afterwards.
And if you get the opportunity spend another £5-10 (can't remember exact pricing) to get the scrubdown. While you lie naked a woman will scrub down your entire body with a special brush - exfoliating you all over, and I mean all over. Your skin will be so soft afterwards and you will get to enjoy the sight of all your dead skin being washed away.
For the price you can't really do better. But keep in mind that is is run by the local council so it's pretty basic. No fancy aromatherapy or zen decor here.
Located just a few minutes from Old Street station, this place is great: it offers a gym, pilates and yoga classes, as well as two swimming pools, a sauna and Turkish baths where you can get professional body scrubs and massages.
My favourite is their Wednesday water-aerobics classes with a great teacher named Sara. Rates range from £4 to 6, depending on whether you drop in at peak or off-peak hours. They also have memberships to match your own requirements.
This is the best alternative to other better known wellbeing franchises.
So...there aren't baths here. At least not that I could find :). There's a gym that I didn't use. And there are definitely awesome sauna facilities. I WILL be going back for that...though not often as they aren't cheap. But...if you're looking for a nice hot/warm pool...something like at Bath...you'll need to go elsewhere.
As one of the older public baths around, this one is a little different. It's a listed 30's building with high ceilings, making for a lovely airy place to swim. Like most baths it can be overrun with school kids during the holidays, but at other times it's a nice relaxed place to put in some serious lengths. It's also a little quirky. Besides the standard gym, sun beds, sauna and snack machines in the lobby, this place also boasts a laundrette and Turkish baths with massages and scrubs available, both open since it was first built. Another quirk is the pool itself: rather than the standard 25m public bath or 50m Olympic length pool, the pool here is 30.5metres long! I like it, it's nice to be able to go a little further before each turn, but don't forget to take it into account if you are used to swimming lengths of a standard pool!
Yea, this is a great pool. This is really the only aspect of the complex that I feel qualified to review. Basically, I'm a dedicated lane-swimmer - from one lane-swimmer to any others - this is a good long pool to swim lengths. Plus, if have similar unfortunate circumstances as myself of not having working washing machine -you can wash your clothes in the launderette while you take swim. Two birds one stone. Great
A really relaxing place to spend the afternoon. Go with friends, or take your mum for a special treat. Enjoy the range of hot and cold pools and then sit and chill out in the relaxation rooms. The only annoying thing is that it is men's only on a saturday, so that does limit somewhat the times you can go.
I thought I would also add to all the reviews here that apart from being a leisure centre with turkish baths, this place also has a laundrette!
When my kitchen was being fitted, I had to come here with my dirty washing to get it all scrubbed up. The laundrette is just to the left of reception and has a number of large washing machines, dryers and 4 huge roller ironing machines. You have to pre-book your slot, which can be done online, and then pay at reception for a token.
While you wait, there is a TV (the reception was always pretty bad) or you can go and sample the delights of.. Old Street?
As Laundrettes go, this one is brilliant because a) it's so large and b) they have the roller irons, which make ironing a breeze!
wonderfully relaxing turkish baths, with 3 hot rooms increasing in temperature, and a hard to handle steam room-rewarding though if you can bear it.
Body scrubs from £8 and massages from £12 and a free relaxation room with beds and sun loungers. Its not a massive place so try not to go when its too busy, and there is only 1 day when men and women can go at the same time- so its a single sex event mainly, which makes for quite a nice atmosphere.
Many women go naked, but swimming costumes are also worn.
Generally a beautifully relaxing place, time to read or daydream or relax as you wish. allow yourself 2hours to fully relax and then slowly recover- getting dressed seems a trial after all the lying down.
(great vietnames restaurants near by on kinglsland road too to finish off the cheap, relaxing day)
I am currently on a cheap corporate membership which makes this amazing value, but I don't think I can afford to renew as this is a premium gym at £50 a month otherwise.
There is a cardio room on the first floor with rows of treadmills which is often boiling hot and poorly ventilated this is a big negative for me so I rarely use it.
Upstairs, the main gym has treadmills and steppers etc they aren't the newest ones where you can plug in your iPod, like they were in the Camden branch. They have radio/TV connectors of which about half work. It also annoys me that you can't pre-program intervals onto them, except intervals of incline. Row of TV channels at the front. It's pretty standard. Usually not too busy I've never had to wait for a machine.
Round the sides are some mats for stretching and free weights these areas are quite cramped as they are literally down the sides of the gym, so there's not a proper mat area.
The other side has a cardio bike place, that I've not tried, and all the big weights machines.
I don't go to classes here, but I've heard their quality varies.
For a premium gym, I would hope to find a Powerplate or more modern machines. It's a gorgeous light airy building, but the gym feels like an after-thought. Will report back soon on the spa.
As a former customer of both Ironmonger Row and York Hall Turkish Baths I have written to privately owned GLL (Greenwich Leisure Lts or 'Better') to ask them and the respective Councils why it is now compulsory to wear bathing costumes during single gender sessions.
GLL, Tower Hamlets Council, and Islington Council DIDN'T BOTHER TO REPLY.
I also patronise Turkish Bath and Spa complexes in Germany and across the Continent and at every single one the wearing of costumes is BANNED / VERBOTEN.
The reasons are simple. In the heat and steam bathing costumes trap bacteria and germs which are then deposited upon the sitting surfaces and in the water of the facilities. Also the costumes being usually made of man-made fabrics and coloured by artificial agents can leach chemicals and dyes into the waters. THIS PUTS EVERYONE'S HEALTH AT RISK.
And it is impossible to soap up and wash down when wearing a costume.
So I asked why are costumes compulsory at York Hall and Ironmonger Row? Why are the managements of these places putting their customers health at risk, especially when costumes are banned on the Continent?
As I said they DIDN'T BOTHER TO REPLY.
Not good. Avoid these places.
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