Outside beside the frozen Assiniboine River it was -22 C. Inside, the temperature had just hit 80 C (that’s 176 F for American readers), as we looked out the soon-to-be steamed up window at The Forks Historic Port.
From that point on, we forget we were in the middle of The Forks. Instead we just focused on our breathing and the amount of sweat that was pouring out of our pores.
Ten minutes later, we were sitting outside in those plunging temperatures drinking sauv blanc fireside in our flip flops, our bodies still radiating heat in our robes.
Five or so minutes later we were back inside the barrel shaped sauna, getting sweaty again. We followed this cycle for a full 90 minutes, then capped it all off with a post-sauna beer in The Forks Market feeling like the poster children for relaxation.
Yes, sauna | Winnipeg, the latest awesome winter offering at The Forks, is every bit as good as it sounds.
Here are a few tips on how best to experience it:
First, book your (or your group’s) seating, which you can easily do online here. Each session is 90 minutes, with individual pricing at $28, and groups of 6 – which gets you a full sauna to yourselves – $168 (all taxes included).
As part of your rental, you can also use the Instagram-ready A-frame Nordic cabin, which has tea service, comfy chairs, a roaring fireplace, change rooms and a water cooler.
What to bring
For starters, a bathing suit, flip flops and a water bottle. You can also bring your own robe to use, although they have plush robe rentals onsite with those big hoods, which are most likely better than what you have at home. They will also give you a nice fluffy Turkish towel to sit on in the sauna as part of your experience.
From there, once you have your gear ready and your time booked, you just need to show up (do so 10 minutes early so you can get changed) and start sweating. (Walk-ups are also welcome if space is available, with special pricing available that includes robe rental and flip flops and a Turkish towel you can take home with you.)
The six-person saunas are super comfortable; the gradual curve in the barrel shape hugs your spine, providing a natural backrest, while it takes no time at all for the space to get cooking. The electric sauna stove heats the rocks up fast, so all you need to do is use two or three ladles of water to get that temperature into the 80 C.
Considering you are not going to spend 90 full minutes inside the sauna (that would be some kind of feat of endurance, not to mention needing an extreme amount of hydrating beforehand), you should be ready to fully enjoy the fire pit area, which (for us at least) pairs nicely with wine or beer from The Common.
That’s right! sauna | Winnipeg’s location is covered by The Forks’ outdoor liquor license, so a good move is to bring a glass of whatever your heart desires down the steps to the sauna before you get into your robe. This way, it will be waiting for you outside the barrel (you can’t consumer alcohol in the sauna) whenever you feel like you need to do a cool down that involves some fire-side-sipping. (And no, you can't bring your own booze. Shame on you for asking.)
One popular FAQ
Is there a shower onsite for after? Nope, but we found you really didn’t need it. Given our normally cold winter temps, by the time you do your last steam and head to the Nordic A-frame (which involves walking outside for a few feet) you should already be quite dry, as the cold air does its thing.
sauna | Winnipeg is open daily until April, with appointments running from morning (most days the first apt is at 10 a.m., until the early evening, with the last session usually starting at 9 p.m. For full schedule and more FAQ click here.