Raua Saun, a public bathhouse on the Kadriorg edge of the Tallinn city center that had long seemed to be stuck in time somewhere in the 1980s, has undergone a renovation and will reopen this weekend as one of the city's few public saunas.
Besides the use of ordinary communal men's and women's saunas and private saunas at an hourly rate, the bathhouse offers an "hourly shower" service, which city district official Jüri Lump explained in Pealinn is geared to "for example, mothers with small children living in a wood-heated house with no hot water," who do not need to use the saunas.
Although Tallinn has many spas and aquatic centers that also have saunas, Raua is one of only two or three bathhouses that are exclusively that. The city also offers subsidized admission to pensioners and others, with prices far under the 10-euro average for an often strictly timed two-hour visit to a spa pool. In 2011, Raua sauna drew 20,000 visits from Thursdays to Sundays and the city contributed about 17,000 euros toward admission.
Deputy Mayor Eha Võrk said in a press release: "There should be more such economical city saunas. The admission price for retirees is especially important and that is shown by the visitor numbers."
Raua Saun opened in 1936 and continued to operate through the Soviet period; and when Raua Street was renamed after the Russian writer Gogol, the sauna continued to be called Raua Saun. In its own way, employees recall it being as legendary a landmark as the Viru Hotel. However, by the end it had taken on a forlorn, not to say seedy, quality.
Ads posted on outdoor media around town in recent days emphasize that the shabbiness associated with the establishment has been scrubbed off by a 2-million-euro makeover.
Some additional services will be introduced later on, such as a laundry center, dry cleaning and hairdresser. When it opens on Saturday, it will have a cafe and a youth recreation center on its second floor.