Sauna Tour — Hermanni

As I have stated earlier, my journey at Compensate, as that of others, came to an abrupt end in May. But I admit it, I am in a very priviledged position: figuring out my future (professionally) required just a bit of patience, due diligence and finding out where I could help. It was a matter of time.

And so, once my future was cleared (more on that some other day), I had plenty of time in my hands, so I did what every other wise person would do, I used it wisely I procrastinated.

While trying to figure out how I could better spend my time and relax for the upcoming gig, my partner had a good suggestion:“why don’t you try all the saunas around?” was their suggestion. So this is how the “Helsinki Sauna Tour” came to be. I will make a review of each and all of the public saunas in Helsinki and publish it here as a post during this Fall. First stop: Hermanni.


As my first sauna sample in the tour I decided to start by one I have never been to before: Sauna Hermanni.

As the name hints, this sauna is located in the Hermanni neighborhood, part of the Vallila district. Its name comes from a free lord (?) named Herman Sigfrid Standertskjöld-Nordenstam, who owned a manor —Kumpulan kartano— in the area.

Image of Kumpula manor

Magnus von Wright, Kumpulan kartano, 1861. Oil on canvas. Helsinki City Museum 2005. p. 54. Public Domain.

Moving on in time, the neighborhood came to be dominated by a large complex that served as abattoir from 1933 all the way to 1992, which, given how relatively centric this neighborhood is, feels quite shocking. After the murdering of innocent animals for meat stopped, the area turned into a lively complex hosting restaurants, cafés and even a local distillery of strong alcohol.

Image of Teurastamo area

Suomen Karjakeskuskunnan teurastamo, Lautatarhankatu 4, 1933. Film paper. Helsinki City Museum. CC BY 4.0.

In the late nineties, gentrification came knocking at the door, but the prices for housing space were already quite high by the time the refurbishment was completed, something not suprising given Hermanni is bordering with Kallio and its sky-high rents.

The sauna

With a tram stop nearby, several bus stops close by and conveniently located in the upper part of Hämeentie (one of the main arteries of the city), accessing Sauna Hermanni by public transport, on foot or by bike, as I did, is fairly easy.

The sauna is capable of hosting 30 men and 20 women (separately) with a mixed shift on Thursdays. It is nicely maintained, claiming they’ve been in business since the 50s (!). It is an electric-heated sauna and the feeling I got was that of a bit dry sauna (typical from the electric-heated ones), although this perception might have been due to having entered the sauna a bit late with not so many customers having thrown enough steam at regular intervals before me.

One of the things that grabbed my attention was the pricing. Be it thanks to a class-conscious ownership, a good marketing stunt or a reminder of the times when their clientele were mainly local workforce with limited resources, accessing the sauna can be made at a discounted price for unemployed people. This was a perk that I was happy to find out.

Images from the Hermanni sauna

Hermanni Sauna collage, 2023. Photo collage. Own archive. CC BY 4.0.

The facilities are stuffed with memorabilia from different decades, from old newspapers, to Super8 film cameras hanging from the walls, old magazines, and aside from the out-of-place-and-time cover girls, the changing room feels like a small museum worth a visit. The time between sauna shifts can be spent sipping a beverage and browsing said magazines or outdoors in the small courtyard, covered from peering eyes by a cute vine and chatting away with other sauna-goers.

Very recommendable, and a very good start to my Helsinki Sauna Tour.

EDIT Dec 17, 2023: Updated <figure> elements to include alt attribute.

Typed on Sep 12, 2023