"The goal is not to have the best sauna on the block.
The goal is to get the block to your sauna."
Rangi saun (Rang's sauna) is the only working smoke sauna in Tallinn and is run by Anni and Adam. It's not a luxury spa or a public bathhouse, but part of a real Estonian home in the 'forest village' of Nõmme, about a ten minute train ride from Tallinn's old town. We offer a very homely experience here so that visitors can learn about the history, traditions and design of Estonian saunas while unwinding the Estonian way. You can check availability by emailing us at email@example.com.
When not enjoying and hosting sauna sessions, Anni and Adam export Estonian sauna design and technology from Estonia through EstonianSaunas.com. We also have a sauna apartment on Airbnb you can stay at here: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/16377724.
An ancient innovation
Estonia is best known around the world today for its digital innovations - from Skype to e-Residency - yet one of our most cherished innovations is also one of the very oldest: the sauna.
The sauna has both shaped the story of Estonia and been shaped by the story of Estonia.
And thousands of years later, the sauna is still just as important to our lives here today but also reveal a lot about where we came from. That's why we are passionate about preserving Estonia's sauna heritage and sharing it with more people around the world.
The oldest and most revered type of Estonian sauna is the smoke sauna. It takes skill and patience to prepare, but the heat is gentler, the aroma is richer, the air is more soothing, and the conversation flows more easily.
The smoke sauna
To prepare the smoke sauna, we keep a fire is alight inside the room for half a day beneath large stones. There's no chimney so the smoke fills up inside and sterilises the surface, which is why smoke saunas can be used for everything from childbirth to cooking. The fire then dies out and the sauna is ventilated before we step inside to bathe, using just the radiant heat of the stones and the leil produced when water is thrown on them.
Most working Estonian smoke saunas today are in southeast Estonia where they are protected by UNESCO, while some are even on display inside museums. But we believe the best way to preserve the smoke tradition today is to keep using them so we have revived the smoke sauna tradition in Tallinn to help more people rediscover it. Our smoke sauna was built with a very contemporary Estonian design (which even David Beckham now enjoys) in Viljandimaa and transported across Estonia to its present location at our home in Nõmme.
Anni Oviir and Adam Rang are Estonians, but with very different backgrounds. Anni grew up in Estonia immersed in our sauna culture, while Adam's family were exiled during Soviet times so he learned about Estonian sauna culture (mostly from Anni) as an outsider after returning. Anni is a green building specialist, while Adam is an entrepreneur who helped Estonia develop the world's first e-Residency programme.
Over the past few years, we've travelled around Estonia and beyond together to find weird and wonderful saunas - while researching a book we are currently writing about Estonian saunas. We also have a blog about Estonian saunas here. Along the way, we've competed in Estonia's sauna marathons, and become the first people to start a company while having a sauna and vote in elections while having a sauna.
We also have a cat called Laima that occasionally wanders into the sauna!
We are located in Nõmme, a peaceful 'forest village' on the edge of Tallinn, which is home to traditional Estonian wooden houses dotted between pine, birch, spruce trees and more. Nõmme was once a separate town before joining Tallinn, although we still like to feel detached from the rest of the world here. Even the President chooses to live at home in Nõmme, instead of her Palace in the city.
We're always happy to recommend other things to do in Nõmme. The city's ski jump tower looms over us a couple of streets away and from there you can look out over Tallinn. If you have time, browse Nõmme turg (market) for fresh food or take a wander through our nearby forests and bogs. You might find it hard to believe that you are still in our capital city.
It's easy to get here from the centre of Tallinn by train, bus or Taxify/Uber. Just ask us for details.
You can read more about our 'village within the city' here on the VisitTallinn website.
Local food and drink
Good food and drink are an essential part of the Estonian sauna experience. We often serve our homemade hapukapsasupp or food that has been smoked or grilled outside. Most of the ingredients comes from our local Nõmme market. We also partner with one of our neighbours who has a home bakery and can deliver a large selection of delicious Estonian baked goods and cakes.
We even have our own special Rangi saun beer made with real birch leaves (like those we use inside the sauna). It's a popular Estonian craft beer called Sauna Session, which is made in Tallinn by Tanker Brewery, although the legendary Estonian illustrator Mart Virkus created a special label in his own distinctive style (which is a surprisingly accurate depiction of Rangi saun!)
We are constantly finding smarter ways to live and work here more independently and in harmony with our environment. That includes both embracing new technology and reviving old ideas, sometimes together.
We follow the four Rs: refuse, reduce, reuse & recycle so we currently have very little waste. We even use a composting toilet that breaks down both human and kitchen waste without water, chemicals or sewage. Inside is a quote from our first post-Soviet President Lennart Meri: "The situation is shit, but that's our fertliser for the future". He was talking metaphorically at the time, but we are not!
We are currently exploring more cool ideas, such as ways to grow more of our own food and use sensors to gather data that can be used to optimise resources for everything from heating saunas to growing vegetables.
An educational experience
We talk to our guests about how to sauna the Estonian way, as well as the importance of sweat bathing traditions around the world throughout the ages. Along the way, we also explore old beliefs, new science, weird history, and interesting traditions.
After visiting Rangi saun, you will never again think of the sauna as just a hot room. To us, the sauna is the entire experience so cooling down is just as important as warming up and - most importantly - it's a shared experience. The sauna is the original social network (and still the best, we think).
Rangi saun has hosted a wide variety of guests from around the world - which includes twice hosting the Work in Estonia programme's annual 'Career Hunt' competition - and it's featured in the media various times. That's not because it's particularly special. It's because Rangi saun is such a normal Estonian homely sauna.
If you would like to visit, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.