‘We bought a garden sauna’: How to get the best one and what it costs

The Scandi influence doesn’t end with pared-down neutral colors and an aversion to clutter. Suddenly we went wild to the sauna.

In fact, big brands popular with celebrities haven’t been able to keep up with demand – Iglucraft, which sold David Beckham’s sauna, doubled its sales in 2020 year-on-year; while Lady Gaga’s favourite, Sunlighten, reported that inquiries surged 50 per cent once the lockdown was announced.

Sweating it out in the sauna is a great way to relax. Some people swear they feel toxins rush out of their pores, while many athletes say they are very effective in healing overworked muscles and tightness in the joints. It is also good for stimulating blood circulation.

Hot House: A typical barrel sauna fits in gardens of any size.  Sweating it out in the sauna is a great way to relax.  Some people swear they can feel toxins pouring out of their pores

Hot House: A typical barrel sauna fits in gardens of any size. Sweating it out in the sauna is a great way to relax. Some people swear they can feel toxins pouring out of their pores

There are two main types: traditional saunas and the steam room.

Scandinavian design saunas are usually made of pine, hemlock or cedar; and heated with an electric or wood stove containing about 20 kg of peridotite volcanic rock, which then produces intense dry heat.

To slightly increase the humidity and bring out the sweat, cold water is poured on the rocks. Stoves typically take half an hour or more to heat up the room.

A medium sized Finnish sauna would cost around £15,000.

Some like it hot: David and Victoria Beckham

Some like it hot: David and Victoria Beckham

A modern version is the Finnish infrared sauna, where panels placed around the sauna shine on you to increase your body temperature.

They don’t have the ability to spray water to increase humidity, but they heat up much faster, so some people find them more comfortable. The heating elements are made of carbon or ceramic, with ceramic generally being considered better.

They tend to be more energy efficient than wood-burning stoves because they heat the body directly rather than raising the ambient temperature of the room.

There is little difference in cost between infrared and oven heated versions.

Steam rooms, on the other hand, tend to be more visually interesting – people often opt for stylish color designs, mosaics, and expressive lighting designs. You can also have aromatherapy – nice smells that mix with the vapor.

Overall, steam rooms tend to be larger and more expensive, so you’re talking upwards of £20,000 for a mid-range design.

You don’t need a lot of space for a sauna or steam room – you could cram it all into one large closet if you really want to.

For some fun, a barrel sauna, a traditional round hut design, can be built in a reasonably sized yard. They are often cheaper than building one yourself at home.

“It gives us time to slow down and de-stress”

Neil Hassall, owner of a waste management company, had Anapos install a sauna and steam room in December in an outbuilding of his Georgian home in Chester, where he lives with his wife and son.

Installation took six weeks. “It was for health reasons – especially during Covid,” says Neil. “For example, my wife Zoe didn’t like going to the gym.

“It gives you time off to slow down and relieve stress. You definitely feel revitalized and energized after you come out and shower.’

Neil’s sauna seats around six people and the electric range is partially powered by solar panels on the roof.

“We’ve only had it for a week and a half so we use it every other day but I expect that to wear off as the novelty wears off.

“My son plays semi-professional football and swears by it to recover after games.

“After using it, we have to walk back to the house from the barn, which isn’t far, but you’ll surely get chills. Let’s say it revives you.’

Feel the heat: An outdoor sauna in the backyard can be cheaper to install than one indoors — although you might have to expect an invigorating walk back inside

Feel the heat: An outdoor sauna in the backyard can be cheaper to install than one indoors — although you might have to expect an invigorating walk back inside

“We put a barrel sauna in our back garden in London”

Harpist Valeria Kurbatova and her husband Toby Clarke purchased a cedar barrel sauna from the Cedar Sauna Company in September 2020 for their back garden in north west London.

It was imported from Russia, is 2.6 m long and 2 m in diameter and is made of Siberian cedar. Pricing for the model, the smallest in the range, starts at £8,224.

“I grew up in Russia with saunas – we call them banya – and that brings back memories,” says Valeria.

“Ours is like a small building. It’s extremely cute and we chose a wood stove because you get the smell and steam and it can get really hot.

“Four people fit comfortably, but you can also bring in six people.

“Mentally it was a savior for us in lockdown. You sweat out all negative emotions and relax.

“We always turn it into an event. And we use whisks – large oak or birch branches with leaves on them, with which you massage each other.

“It doesn’t hurt – they’re pretty soft. Afterwards you will finally feel relaxed. Everyone should try it.”

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