Guest post series continues: we are pleased to visit Löyly Northeast, Portland Oregon accompanied by Sauna Map Champion Tom Carlson. Enter Tom.
I had a hunch just from the name that at Löyly spa I’d find good heat. And good heat I found indeed. In my work researching for the SaunaTimes Public Sauna Map I’ve found countless examples of spas that offer a sauna but in nearly every case I find that the sauna is infrared and treated as a minimally-significant accessory to the spa’s “real” services. We fans of traditional sauna find spas like this disappointing.
The spa has been in operation since 2010. Löyly offers 2 locations in Portland, Oregon (NE and SE to those familiar with Portland’s iconic quadrant-based layout). Löyly takes sauna seriously, devoting about half the square footage in each location to the sauna area. While on a recent vacation, I was able to visit the NE Löyly location. I was impressed with their commitment to the authentic sauna experience.
The sauna area sits in the rear of the building, behind a half-dozen treatment rooms for massages, facials, etc. Dividing walls stop short of the high ceiling, creating an expansive space that feels partially open-plan yet divided into distinct areas. A few carefully-placed skylights gently illuminate the room and candles add a pleasant touch. The many natural wood surfaces and simple concrete floor give the spa an industrial/modern feel.
Making our way through Löyly Spa
I started at the reception desk to pay for my 2 hour session and received a first-timer tour. Next I stopped in the changing area to switch from street clothes to swimsuit. The large lockers are clean and Löyly provided everything but the trunks: a robe, towel, hair and body products, sandals, and pefletti (small towel to sit on – not really necessary when we’re wearing swimsuits, but a nice touch).
Löyly NE provides 2 identical saunas, 1 labeled “Social” and the other “Silent.” I enjoy sweating both alone and with others. I shared the facility with only 1 other person that day. Had it been more crowded, I certainly would have appreciated the distinction. Both saunas are typically set to ~ 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degrees C). Both saunas provide bathers with a ladle and water bucket for making löyly. A tile-walled room between the two saunas offer a choice of wet cool-down options: rainfall shower, a bucket and quick-filling spout, and a multi-headed mister above a bench.
Löyly features a relaxation area with several chairs, benches, and loungers adjacent to the saunas and cool down room. While chilling between rounds I paged through copies of Hamam Magazine, a beautiful publication I was amazed to have never seen before. Some guests add tea or a foot treatment to their experience in this space, but I just enjoyed cool water in a metal cup (another nice touch).
Post sauna action at Löyly Spa, Portland
After 3 or 4 rounds my two hours ended; I felt relaxed and invigorated. I changed and headed back up front to speak a bit more with April and Morgan at the desk. They happily answered all my sauna geek questions, including the detail that about 20% of their visitors are “hard core” sauna fans who generally visit only to sweat. Many of the other guests add sauna to massages and other body treatments. I often say there are 2 types of people in the world: those who love sauna and those who have not yet been introduced to sauna correctly. Löyly definitely introduces people to sauna correctly, so I’d like to think that other 80% is simply in the process of being converted.
Perhaps next time I get to Portland I’ll try Löyly’s SE location (which features one sauna and one steam room.) In recognition of their commitment to good heat, we name Löyly spa of Portland, Oregon December’s Public Sauna of the Month.