Fodor's Expert Review Sandunovskiye Bani
This impeccably clean banya, known also simply as "Sanduny," is probably the city's most elegant bathhouse, with a lavish blue-and-gold-painted interior dating to the early 1800s. The entrance is marked by wrought-iron lamps and a circular marble staircase. The VIP section has a pool surrounded by marble columns and a lounge with leather booths. Note that the banya essentials of a towel and a sheet to sit on in the steam room cost extra; you can also bring your own. You can also purchase birch branches, which you may be able to convince a fellow bather to beat you with (or you can hire a trained masseuse there to do it). This is a classic Russian banya procedure that's supposedly good for the skin. There is a thorough list of rules and recommendations printed in English at the ticket booth. On-site facilities include a beauty parlor and, of course, more traditional massage.