When exactly people started to bathe indoors is unknown but we do know that the Ottoman Turks inherited the Roman Bath concept as it existed in Asia Minor. But they adapted it to Turkish tastes and called it ‘HAMAM’
Of course modern Turks shower and bathe at home but the HAMAM is still a inherent part of the Turkish culture as it has passed through many generations. It is a spa for socialising cleansing, relaxing and curing aches and pains.
For starters, there is no mixing!
Before you can decide whether you love or hate going to the Turkish Bath, you need to experience it at least once. If it’s your first visit to a hamam, entering a Turkish bath can be a daunting experience.
Here is what you can expect.
There is a strict hamam etiquette to be followed.
There are a number of different services on offer in most hamams, and you have to sort this out at the beginning.
WHAT DO I WEAR
The attendants usually provide visitors with a peshtemal, a thin cotton towel to wrap yourself and a regular towel to use after bathing.
It is okay to bring your bathing suit or bikinis; but be prepared that many Turks and other nationalities will be not be wearing anything.
Almost all HAMAMS have a dressing section where you can store securely your belongings.
Make sure you remain clothed with the bath wrap at all times — flashing is frowned upon.
Even though female and male sections are separated in traditional HAMAMS the bathing rituals are similar between the sexes. The hamam experience is about leaving yourself in the hands of your tellak or natir, the male or female attendants who guide visitors through the progressively warmer sections of the bath.
Men usually completely strip down and wear nothing underneath the bath-wrap.
Women on the other hand mostly keep on wearing their underwear underneath the bath-wrap. Most women still remove their bras but the choice is yours.
Either the Turkish bath has two sections, one for each sex, or it admits men and women at separate times of the day.
A traditional Turkish bath package includes 45 minutes of washing; traditional body scrubbing with handwoven wash cloth known as a kese; a foam wash and a massage.
WHAT HAPPENS INSIDE
Once you are ready, the bath attendant will take you into the warm section.
Here you can relax and sweat next to a kurna, the small marble basin.
Next comes the scrubbing, which is done by the attendant. Sit back and relax, and let him or her scrub every inch of your body with the kese.
Don’t worry: In most traditional hammams, the washing spaces are separated by marble panels to create a sense of privacy.
Once scrubbed, take your place on the warm marble slab called the gobektasi in the hot section, where your attendant is ready with a lacy, foam-filled cloth for a sudsy massage.
Following this rejuvenating experience, most linger in the bath area and relax.
The hot section of a historic Turkish bath is the most impressive part.
It is usually designed so that rays of light filtered into this area from a high central dome, illuminating the steam and creating an otherworldly feeling.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE
Back in the cold section, many hamams will serve visitors a glass of juice, or a cup of Turkish tea.
The idea here is to spend a few minutes allowing your body to come back to its regular temperature.
It’s also a time to tip your attendants, which is normal in the hamam
Selecting a Hamam and Service
So you need to decide if you want to visit a historical hamam or a Turkish bath in a hotel.
Then you have to choose your choice of service .
POSSIBLE OPTIONS INCLUDE:
- Self-Service;— you bathe yourself and bring your own soap, shampoo and towel. This is obviously the cheapest option. I wouldn’t recommend this for your first visit.
- Traditional Style — pick this one if you want the real Turkish bath experience. An attendant will wash and massage you for about 15 minutes, and you don’t have to bring any of the equipment.
- Other Styles — Some have several other services such as aromatherapy oil massage, reflexology, Indian head massage, and facial clay mask, too. Please check their website if you are interested in those.
SUMMARY OF TIPS:
- Hamams are open from as early as 6 am. till somewhere around midnight.
- The masseur and scrubber will be of the same sex as you are.
- Standard soap is used. If you have sensitive skin or are allergic to some products, bring your own soap.
- You need to wash your private parts yourself.
- You’ll get drenched, so women may want to get rid of their make-up first. Also, don’t forget to bring the necessary toiletries.
- Women may want to bring dry underwear along too.
- You should tip the attendant(s), so make sure you have some cash money on you. We have been told to tip 10 to 20% of the total amount.
- If you want to go home sporting a deep sun tan visit a hamam at the beginning of your holiday not only does this stop your tan being washed off towards the end of your trip but it helps create a much deeper tan after your visit.
A NEW FEATURED HAMAM AND SPA FOR OUR WEBSITE
This spa uses the best of traditional hamam methods but is a little more European in their service in that the sexes are not segregated and style is more relaxed.
There is also additional benefits in that the spa offers cosmetic beauty and medical treatment using German technology which is not yet found anywhere else in Turkey
Click the link below to visit their feature page and find out all about these amazing treatments.