What to expect in the Turkish Bath: hamam ?
Here is your guide with tips for visiting the Turkish Bath ( Hamam ) in Istanbul:
Turkish hamam (Turkish steam bath) – an old tradition in Turkish culture
It is worth experiencing a Turkish bath while in Istanbul. Turkish baths are described as no less than a spiritual experience. It is a unique, shared experience where one feels relaxed, refreshed, cleansed, and meditative.
No need to worry if you are unfamiliar with the mysticism of hamam. This blog is a guide for all you need to know about Turkish baths, what to expect, and the right etiquette to follow.
There is some strict hamam etiquette to be followed:
- There is no mixing! Turkish bath has two sections, one for each gender, or it admits men and women at separate times of the day.
- Remove your clothes in a changing room and leave them in a locker, put on a “pestemel” (traditional towel, but thinner)
- The experience begins in an impressive room completely covered in marble featuring a big dome, several basins, and an impressive “göbektaşı” — the central, raised platform above the heating source where you will spend approximately 15 minutes before the massage.
- After the warm-up in the sauna room, your masseur, who will be the same gender as you are, will arrive and start to use “kese” to soak and clean your body. “Kese” is a particular type of pouch used for scrubbing. Don’t worry; it is not a painful experience, but if you feel overwhelmed, or there is any part of your body you don’t want to scrub, you can tell your masseur.
- After the scrubbing, you’ll get the dreamy bubble wash and massage. Your masseur will squeeze a smooth bubble all over your body and give you a relaxing massage.
- After the fulfillment of this process, prepare yourself for cold water bowls that are poured over your head.
- Before leaving the hamam, you can spend some time in the warm room relaxing or drinking traditional tea, lemonade, etc. This is also the time to take pleasure in the beauty of the entire experience of a Turkish bath.
Tips to enjoy the Hamam:
- Hamams are open from as early as 6:00 a.m. till somewhere around midnight
- In most hamams, you’ll have to choose the level of service and pay upfront before bathing. You can go for the self-service option – where you use the facilities but do your own washing – or tack on a scrub, and oil massage.
- Most hamams have storage rooms or lockers where you can keep your bags, change of clothes, money, or all other personal belongings.
- Standard soap is used in Turkish baths. If you have sensitive skin or are allergic to some specific products, remember to bring your own soap.
- You’ll get soaked, so women may want to remove their make-up first. Also, it is a good idea to bring your essential toiletries.
- You may want to bring dry underwear along too.
- If you care about your new suntan, you might prefer to visit a hamam at the beginning of your city trip or holiday.
- Keep noise to a minimum. Visiting a Turkish bath as a group can be more fun, however, don’t speak too loudly because you don’t want to disturb others. Like a spa, the hamam is a place to relax, calm down and unwind.
- Always tip your masseur. It’s a must to tip around 20% of whatever you’ve paid so make sure you have some cash money on you.