“Welcome to Burger King,” said the server behind the counter. “What can I get you?”
Actually, I’m just guessing this is what she said. We were at a Finnish branch of Burger King on Mannerheimintie street in Helsinki and my Finnish isn’t too good.
“Is the sauna open?” I asked hesitantly.
A long akward silence followed as her face turned into a look of fear and confusion. It was as if I had just asked to pay in Bitcoin.
After a brief discussion with the manager, she came back and explained that we would have to book it online.
Burger King announced the opening of its sauna in Helsinki a year ago. It fits up to 15 people and includes a shower room, locker room and a lounge with a TV and video games — just a few metres from the regular diners.
It’s probably the only sauna that will actually make you less healthy, because the servers will even take your orders and deliver it to you inside.
For people who consider the sauna to be a holy place, this might be going a bit too far. As someone with a beard though, the opportunity to take a shower after eating fast food is certainly appealing.
It turns out that the cost of hiring the Burger King sauna is about €300 — far above the price of larger and more luxurious saunas in the city — and we still can’t find that website to book it.
The sauna isn’t very traditional either. It’s electric for a start. So too is the giant Burger King sign above it. Unsurprisingly, this high street fast food branch also doesn’t have a lake or sea you can jump into between sauna sessions.
The only people who seem to have visited are journalists. This might just be its only purpose.
‘Offering a sauna’ at a fast food restaurant is actually very similar to ‘accepting Bitcoin’ at a lot of other companies.
It sounds cool and helps establish a company’s identity. In this case, Burger King is keen to grow its presence in Finland and has achieved a marketing coup against the Finnish burger chain Hesburger.
…but, like accepting Bitcoin, it’s not very practical in reality.
We weren’t able to get inside, but Paul Rudd and Richard Ayoade did and they made this video:
How to visit this Finnish sauna
About ‘Estonian Saunas’
Thanks for reading. The Estonian Saunas blog is run by Anni and Adam, explorers and exporters of Estonian saunas.
Anni is a green building specialist who grew up here in Estonia immersed in sauna culture, while Adam is a väliseestlane (‘foreign Estonian’) whose family were exiled to the UK during Soviet times but he has now returned and is still trying to understand the sauna — and everything else about his Estonian heritage.
Together, we love finding weird and wonderful saunas all over Estonia and telling the world about them. Check out our plan to make 100 Estonian saunas more famous around the world.
We also offer two saunas in Tallinn that you can visit. Both are based on the best of Estonian design and technology, although in very different ways. The first is our smoke sauna, Rangi saun, which combines an ancient sauna heating technique with a contemporary Estonian design. The second is our WiFi-controlled e-sauna, Tondi Saun, which is part of our apartment that you can book through Airbnb.
In addition to reading our blog, you can follow Estonian Saunas on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. There’s also a Facebook group for fans of Estonian saunas where you can share advice and stories.
Finally, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.