In August 2015 I spent three days in Helsinki on an epic sauna tour. One place I visited was the excellent Sauna Hermanni – one of only three traditional public saunas still operating in the city. Named after its neighbourbhood, Hermanni was founded in 1953 and uses electric heaters. You should definitely visit if you’re in Helsinki! It has a great 1950’s retro feel thanks to recent rennovations. The place gets a big thumbs up from The Saunatarian!
I caught up with the new owner, Mika Ahonen, while I was there, and followed up with these questions by email.
1. Hi Mika, thanks for talking to The Saunatarian. Could you start by describing the facilities at Sauna Hermanni? What type of saunas, how many people can fit, etc.
Sauna Hermanni is traditional public sauna from the 1950’s. It is and always has been an electric heated sauna. We have separate saunas for ladies and gentlemen. Mens side we can take 30 customers and women side fits 20.
We are the only public sauna which offers little snacks like sausage with potato salad, herring sandwich, and stuff like that. We have decorated the sauna in 1950’s style and we hope that customers will enjoy and like our sauna. Customers can go outside also to cool down. We have nice yard with table, chairs and hammock in summer time. Some customers will jump in the snow in winter time, but we don’t encourage to do that.
2. Something I love about Sauna Hermanni is the big IKI sauna heaters. Could you tell us about them? How many KW? How many rocks? Any details at all. We love detail at The Saunatarian! Also tell us about the remote control panel for the saunas.
So the stove in the mens side is 18KW and there’s 300kg stones inside. To get sauna ready, we have to heat the sauna for 1.5 hours. Womens side we have a 16KW stove and 250kg stones inside the stove. Using the remote control panel we can but more heat inside the sauna or get down the temperature. Also we can but start time and endings with all week. Air is most important too and we can operate from the control panel too (there are air vents in the sauna). We can put more air in when there’s more people inside the sauna.
3. You told me that until recently you were a school teacher. Could you tell us more about that career transition? Why did you do it? How easy/difficult was it? How are you enjoying owning a sauna?
Yes i was teaching before i started to run Sauna Hermanni. I think that i was runout in ten years of teaching and looked for something else to do. I was customer of public saunas so I know what kind of job it is. I love my job now and hope that i can do this for many years.
4. How’s business? Do you cover costs well each year? And could you explain the hidden costs of running a sauna that we may not think about?
Running sauna is not that kind of business that you will buy ferrari or a big house. It’s way of life. You have to like sauna, people and giving good spirit to everybody who comes through the door.
We have rent, electricity, and water to pay. Then there’s always small or big repairs that need to be done. New stones have to bought every year. Stuff like that.
Running sauna is not the kind of business that will buy you a ferrari or a big house. It’s a way of life. You have to like sauna, people and giving good spirit to everybody who comes through the door.
5. When is your favourite time for a sauna?
My favourite sauna time is almost always. I go to sauna most before customers, sometimes with the customers, and when I have day off I sometimes come to sauna and enjoy the sauna and food. Food taste always better when someone is doing it for you 🙂
6. Do you have any fun tips or tricks to use in the sauna? Anything that makes the experience nicer?
I think I’m kind of old school with the sauna, so no tricks. Maybe vihta is nice, but that’s I think because of the smell. How long to stay inside is everybody’s own opinion, as is how rough löyly you want to take. Everybody should respect each other and ask if it’s ok to throw the water to stones. Love and peace 😀
Thanks for your time Mika!