Russian & Turkish Baths

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Yet another New York spa ritual is the thermal bath experience, otherwise known as "taking a schvitz." This is the practice of alternating hot and cold baths, followed by relaxation. The cycle is praised for its detoxifying and muscle-relaxing properties and also improves sleep, immunity and circulation. Try it at this New York institution, open since 1892.

The claim to fame here is the Russian sauna room, in which more than 9,000 kilos of burning-hot rock generate the heat. You sit in the sauna and douse yourself with cold water from time to time. There's also an ice-cold pool, steam room, redwood sauna, aromatherapy room, Swedish shower and sundeck.

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