Every weekend, I adopt a triage mindset for all of my possible plans—clean the apartment, go to dinner, sleuth Facebook Marketplace—and at the top of that list, in the most aspirational of tiers, is the fantasy of taking a full spa day. It’s not outside the realm of possibility, but heading to SoJo Spa Club every weekend just isn’t in my budget. I would gladly take up residency in the club’s pool of carbonated water/Topo Chico, but no one is asking me to do that (yet). I crave the hot rocks, the hinoki baths, and the endless influx of fresh, warm towels. But most of all, I want the sauna.
Maybe it’s because I come from a long line of Polish Catholics who hate themselves, but there’s something about sweating it out in a hot wooden box that makes me feel like a better person. Science folks will back me up when I say that steaming yourself like a cabbage roll can help your muscles relax, relieve joint pain, and increase circulation. In this 2015 European study, researchers found that “men who attended a sauna bathing session two [to] three times per week reduced their cardiovascular mortality rates by 30 [percent] and men who attended a sauna session four or more times per week reduced their risk by 50 [percent].” I’m no doctor, but what I’m hearing is this: If you want to live longer and have Madame Alexander doll skin, own a sauna.
There are saunas out there for every budget, from portable saunas starting at around $150 to at-home infrared saunas with built-in speakers. Personally, I’ll take a traditional, steamy sauna any day, but I also love the dry heat of an infrared sauna, which uses infrared lamps with electromagnetic radiation to warm your body in lieu of heating the air around you while operating at a less intense heat level of 140-ish degrees Fahrenheit (traditional saunas are around 200 degrees Fahrenheit).
Crack open the Evian, and get ready to make every day a spa a day.
The best budget sauna
You don’t have to be a Frasier Crane-level wellness snob to have a sauna that gets into the 120-degree range. Consider this best-seller from Amazon, which comes with its own chair, costs less than the boots I bought last week, and has a 4.4-star average Amazon rating from over 2,600 reviews. “I bought this as a bit of a joke,” one stan writes. “For a little over $100, I thought, Why not? We weren’t expecting much but this sauna is AWESOME!! We love it!” Just imagine how good it will feel to come home after work in late-fall/early-winter, and melt away the cold of the outdoors?
The best portable standing sauna
This portable sauna is perfectly on theme with the impending Spooky Season, because you can hole up in it like a wellness vampire. It has a 4.2-star average rating from over 3,400 reviews on Amazon, where fans are saying it’s easy to assemble, spacious, and extra luxurious “with a tea light candle oil burner [that has some] peppermint oil.”
The best two person at-home infrared sauna
Dynamic Saunas knows what’s up. Not only is this sauna not an eyesore, but it also has an impressive 4.7-star average rating on Amazon from over 660 reviews, praising the built-in speakers, the natural, reforested Canadian hemlock wood construction, and the gentle but effective infrared technology. “It’s eased the physical pain from sore muscles and joints I experience on a daily basis,” one reviewer writes, “My sinus issues have gotten better, and some claim my skin is glowing. The only downside is that my son climbed in and was literally cooked alive. All I have left is his skeleton. Thankfully I still have this sauna and hopefully it will comfort [me] through this period of mourning and beyond.”
This aesthetic New Zealand pine tree sauna
Doesn’t this one look like it belongs in a Biltmore suite? This Everjoy sauna uses infrared heat to relax your body, and it’s made with “strong New Zealand pine [trees] and 88 infrared ceramic balls” that help to soothe and target your feet, back, waist, and anywhere else that’s hurting.
The best at-home barrel steam sauna
This traditional cedar wood steam sauna by Almost Heaven (yes, it is) would be our entire personality if we were lucky enough to own it, which we will after a little coupon clipping and next year’s tax return. It’s a whopper of a sauna that can fit up to four peeps at once, and has earned a 4.6-star average rating on Wayfair for bringing a little slice of Nordic hyvinvointia to your home. “Loving it! So beautiful. Heats up quickly here in [the] cold winters of South Dakota,” one reviewer writes. “So far so good!” another states, “We ended up placing this in our basement. Was set up by three people in four hours.”
Massage and bon voyage, mate—and don’t forget to hydrate.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.