Recently, Finland was named the happiest country in the world for the sixth year in a row.

And one of the reasons is its wellbeing culture.

Despite the at times inhospitable climate, with freezing winters and long, dark days, being outdoors and in tune with nature is ingrained into the Finnish psyche.

That means activities such as cold-water swimming, which is currently experiencing a boom in popularity in the UK that has really gained momentum since start of the coronavirus pandemic.

And sauna is a national pastime – in a population of 5.5 million people, there are estimated to be around 3 million saunas.

Cold water swimming and sauna are said to have a range of benefits for body and mind, including reducing stress, improving sleep, boosting mood and alleviating aches and pains.

And Tom Sutton is an enthusiastic advocate for both.

During the lockdowns, missing his regular sessions, he and a friend transformed a horsebox into a mobile wood fired sauna.

Now he’s spreading the word all over East Anglia - you can find the Sauna Box at the Wild Spa at Chestnuts Campsite in Fundenhall and, during the summer months, at festivals across the region.

Great British Life: The Sauna Box on Sea Palling beach. Photo: Tom SuttonThe Sauna Box on Sea Palling beach. Photo: Tom Sutton

And if you’re heading to the coast for some vitamin sea at the weekend, you can now enjoy the heat of a sauna and cool off with a dip.

Beach saunas are a familiar sight in resorts in the south of England such as Brighton – and Sea Palling has joined the hot wellbeing trend.

As Tom explains, a friend introduced him to cold water swimming at the bathing ponds in Hampstead Heath while he was living in London in his 20s.

'It was kind of a transition in my life. I left a house party early because I knew I was going to get up early the next day to throw myself into a pond - which was quite hard to explain to my friends at the time. It turns out that’s very addictive, so every Sunday morning became a cold dip morning,' he says.

'Then I started reading more into the science and realised that the cold and the heat of the sauna go really well together and I think for the last six or seven years I’ve had a three to four times a week sauna habit.'

At the start of the first lockdown, Tom moved back to Norfolk, where he grew up. While he could still have his cold swims, he really missed his sauna sessions.

So he decided to build a mobile one with a friend. They sourced a horsebox – and got lots of handy tips from the sauna community, which he says was really supportive.

'It’s one of those lovely industries where people don’t see it as competition, they just want more saunas in the UK, because it’s not a culture here and it would be lovely if it was. It’s so good for you.

'When we’d built it, we didn’t really know what to do with it because we weren’t really intending to run it as a business, but people had been following it on Instagram and then some bookings came in,' he says.

The first Sauna Box events were in a field in Sea Palling – and Jamie Holden, their first customer, is now running the sauna on its days on the beach.

There are now two Sauna Boxes and Tom is about to build a third. He has taken them to yoga retreats, Latitude festival and events with fellow wellness enthusiasts Norfolk Paddle Boards.

The outdoor Wild Spa at Chestnuts Campsite at Fundenhall, south of Norwich, is what Tom describes as ‘Sauna Box Plus’.

It has an ice bath – ideal for the Wim Hof devotee.

Great British Life: The Wild Spa. Photo: Tom SuttonThe Wild Spa. Photo: Tom Sutton

Tom’s partner, Kayley Wells, with whom he has a one-year-old daughter, Noa, also works in wellness and at the Wild Spa they offer a gold package which includes relaxing and rejuvenating treatments such as massage, clay masks and coffee scrubs.

The Sauna Box saunas are traditional Finnish saunas, or wet saunas as they are also known, where water can be poured on to rocks to create steam.

‘The saunas are typically run at between 80 and 100 degrees, that’s the sweet spot for most saunas, and then around 10 to 20 per cent humidity,” says Tom.

The saunas are available for private hire and there are also community sessions – including, in keeping with the idea of reconnecting with the earth’s natural rhythms, full moon, solstice and equinox saunas.

‘Our aim is to leave people a little bit happier and a little bit healthier, so that’s why we have the community sessions, because it means that we can keep it super affordable. So, if you’re coming to the Wild Spa or Sea Palling there’s always an option that starts at £16,’ says Tom.

The Sauna Box motto is ‘drop in, unwind and reconnect’.

‘They’re scientifically proven to make you feel better, but actually you know how you feel,” says Tom.

‘The sauna releases a chemical which makes you happier, then the ice bath or cold water gives you a big hit of dopamine.

‘It’s why we have the easiest business in the world, because everyone physically and literally leaves happier than when they started.’

To find out more visit or follow on Instagram @saunaboxhq