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Planning your trip to St. Petersburg's banyas

February 13, 2011|By Mary Ellen Monahan | Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • In the banyas (bathhouses) of St. Petersburg, Russia, birch branches are used for flogging the skin.
In the banyas (bathhouses) of St. Petersburg, Russia, birch branches are… (St. Petersburg Times )

THE BEST WAY TO ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA

From LAX, connecting service (change of plane) to St. Petersburg is offered on KLM, Lufthansa and Aeroflot. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $490.

TELEPHONES

To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 7 (the country code for Russia), and the local number.

WHAT TO DO

Public banyas are generally sex-segregated and often have different hours, so check first. Bring a towel, birch branches and toiletries (usually available on-site). Most offer massages, wellness treatments and comfortable private banya rooms for small groups (arrange ahead). Entrance fees from about $6; for luxe, about $12 or more.

Coachmen's Banya, 9 Dostoevsky St.; (812) 312-5836, http://www.yamskie.ru. Open Sunday-Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Usachovskie Banya, 12 Makarenko Pereulok; (812) 114-3447. Open Wednesday-Sunday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Second Courtyard, 29 Leytenanta Shmidta; (812) 321-6441, http://www.dvor.boom.ru. Public banya 10 a.m.-4 pm; private 4 p.m.-10 p.m.. A spotless facility for those seeking a smaller, upscale experience. Call ahead.

WHERE TO STAY

Petro Palace, 14 Malaya Morskaya St.; (812) 571-2880, http://www.petropalacehotel.com. Modern, earth-toned rooms in a great location. Doubles from about $125.

Nevsky Forum, 69 Nevsky Prospect; (812) 333-0222, http://www.forumhotel.ru. Elegant, modern rooms right on Nevsky. Doubles from about $175.

Grand Hotel Europe, 1/7 Mikhailovskaya St.; (812) 329 6000, http://www.grandhoteleurope.com. Old-world splendor. Doubles from about $330.

WHERE TO EAT

Idiot Restaurant, 82 Moika Canal; (812) 315 1675. Dostoevsky might enjoy the excellent vegetarian food in cozy rooms that feel like a 19th century literary salon.

Dve Palochki (Two Chopsticks), 22 Nevsky Prospect, (812) 493-4845. A popular, lively Japanese restaurant serving reliable sushi. Multiple locations on Nevsky Prospect.

Singer Cafe, 28 Nevsky Prospect (above Dom Knigi); (812) 571 8223. Pleasant service, good coffees, desserts and traditional Russian dishes come with wonderful views.

TO LEARN MORE

http://www.saint-petersburg.com

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