The staff at Mermaid Spa roasts granite rocks overnight to lend the Russian steam room an air of authenticity. And, in accordance with these traditional standards, they then dash water over the intensely heated rocks to create a natural steam. As the room gets misty, those relaxing inside of the sauna wield dried birch branches to self-administer a massage or tickle the wood-paneled walls just like their mother trees. All of this falls in line with Mermaid Spa’s owners’ vision when they first opened their Brooklyn bathhouse: bring the Russian banya to New York.
Also housed inside the spa are an extra-large jacuzzi, an ice-filled pool, and a Turkish steam room, where aromas of eucalyptus and mint intermingle with the warm mists. Pleasant scents also waft from the on-site Russian restaurant, where chefs ladle traditional goulash and dumplings onto plates or into the bindles of traveling hoboes.