Russian & Turkish Baths

Russian & Turkish Baths


The Russian & Turkish Baths on 10th Street in New York City is still the best place to get hot and wet in that city.

If you're ever in New York (and you have the time), you should try to get down to the East Village for a shvitz; especially if you like: getting hot and wet, being scrubbed and pounded with soapy oak leaf brooms ("platza"), swaning about in robes, watching ice hockey on cable TV, eating herring, drinking carrot juice and then maybe some ice cold vodka.

The original baths were built in the early 1890s by a Russian immigrant named Knudsen, who was looking to recreate the traditional bath houses of his homeland.

Over time, the baths became a popular spot for the Russian and Jewish communities in New York City, as well as for famous figures such as Al Capone and Woody Allen. The bathhouse was also used as a location for several films, including Crimes and Misdemeanors, Requiem for a Dream and, more recently, Little Ukraine.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the baths fell into disrepair and were eventually shut down. However, in 1985, a group of investors led by Russian émigré David Shapiro purchased the building and began renovations to restore it to its former glory. The renovated bathhouse reopened in 1989 and has been a popular spot for New Yorkers and tourists ever since.

It’s definitely more hipster these days, with a smattering of models to boot ... but the old school essence has remained.

The baths offer a range of traditional Russian and Turkish spa treatments, including hot and cold plunge pools, saunas, and steam rooms. The facility also includes a restaurant and a bar, and often hosts events and live music performances.

And there’s a twist. The baths are owned and operated separately by Boris and David, and they don’t get on. They run the baths on alternate weeks, and you can only use admission tickets and gift cards with the manager you purchased the card from, i.e. a Boris pass can only be used during Boris's shift, and a David pass can only be used during David's shift.  

In 2003 a CustOMER named Mary had this to say on the REMO website:

"The Baths are not for lightweights. John Belushi didn't go there after a big bender for nothing. I was addicted to the Baths for probably ten years. I couldn't wait for Wednesdays. The nakedness! The buckets of cold water over my sweaty hot tush! The fresh squeezed juice and the occasional vodka! To lie in that ancient steam room and get beaten with oak leaves by an exotic woman named Olga ... just the thought makes me tingle. But alas, I got a job way uptown and could never make it down there anymore. Plan on spending at least three hours. Especially good if you're hungover or just achy all over."

… or as Baths managers like to say to visiting newbies:

“There is no place like this place anywhere near this place, so this must be the place.”

Russian & Turkish Baths exists in printed form as chapter 62 of RR#1 … available to order HERE

REMO Catalogue, November 1991


1. 10th Street Baths Design at REMO
2. 10th Street Baths Exterior. Photo Credit: Jeanette R. on yelp
3. Baths in the 1940s
4. Platza in the Hot & Wet Room
5. Serious Platza
6. Ice water bucket. Image: New York Times
7. David and Boris Shift Calendar from
8. Boris Featured in the 1992 REMO Catalogue

9. Keep your shorts on for co-ed days

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