sauna team in sauna

Sauna Summit

Peter Blach

Peter Blach

3 min read

On 20 May, the Folkestone Sea Sauna committee sent a delegation of three, Peter Blach, Hanna Muck and John Verkaik, to attend the first UK and Ireland Sauna Summit, organised by the British Sauna Association, to draw inspiration, network and connect with providers in the industry. It was held at the cool and groovy Netil360, East London’s Rooftop, which also hosts Rooftop Saunas. The talks and discussions took place in a roomy bar area, overseeing a large rooftop terrace with an impressive East London skyline as a backdrop. This felt even more special due to the beautiful sunny weather and it was fair to say there was lots of excitement in the room.

It turns out Folkestone is not the only sauna, which opened last year. Since the COVID pandemic, the sauna culture has been growing across the UK. We met a large number of independent sauna operators who have opened in the last couple of years and many more who are just about to launch.

meeting of people from sauna community

There were talks from Danish science professor, Susanna Søberg, the founder of Søberg Institute, about the science of the health benefits of hot/cold therapy and the need to educate sauna users. (always finish with a cold to gain most health benefits)

We heard inspirational talks about the Norwegian sauna culture, how a small village has reinvented itself and become a huge tourist attraction with its 11 unique and aesthetically beautiful saunas and how the ‘not for profit’ organisation, Oslo Badstuforeningen, has opened 19 urban saunas since 2016.

We also heard from builders, architects and sauna operators about the trends, growth and challenges and there were discussions on how to hold a sauna space; how saunas could help transform health in the UK and the pros and cons of setting national standards before big corporations take over and dictate the agenda.

Sauna team in sauna

The day finished with some awards for outstanding saunas and a trip to the sauna with a view of East London, a pretty awesome combination.

During the coffee breaks we networked our way through the room and we were proud to discover that many people had heard of Folkestone Sea Sauna. We stood out because we operate a bit differently to most saunas in the UK. Most saunas in the UK are set up as small businesses. We appear to be the only community saunas in the UK, which doesn’t have any staff, makes use of automatic operation and is funded by membership. Most people were surprised (and quietly envious) when we told them our members pay less than £100 for unlimited sauna use for 8 months a year. It’s simply not possible for private saunas to achieve this.

Peter Blach and Sauna team

With glowing cheeks after a trip to the sauna, we enjoyed a beer and freshly baked pizza on the roof terrace before returning to Folkestone. The delegation unanimously agreed that what we have in Folkestone is pretty special. We felt very inspired by the sauna trend, which is currently taking over the UK. It’s clear that sauna culture is on the rise and set to become an established part of the UK bathing culture and health therapy. Over the coming years, we can expect to find many new saunas by remote beaches, lakes and in nature, which is great news for all of us.