Turkish Bath Guide for First Time Visitors – How to Get Hammam Treatment

Turkish Bath Guide 2021

This old tradition of relaxation is an absolute necessity for visitors in Istanbul daily. Here are a few ideas for your first experience with a Turkish hammam.

Hammam is also called the Turkish bath. Turkish hammam is the first place that comes to mind for locals when they need a relaxation treatment. Foreigners also visit the Turkish Bath often for special treatments on their vacation in Turkey.

 

If you are also curious about the traditional Turkish Bath treatment, let us explain what you need to know before you visit a Hamam and the most popular Hammams in Istanbul.

Most hamams in the Republic of Turkey serve both men and women in different sections or at different times of the day.

 

We will explain you here:

 

Step by step Hammam Guide

 

There is no much difference in most hammam's decorations or treatments. You just need to make sure that you reserve a Hamam treatment that includes bubble massage and scrubs if you are a first-timer.

When you arrive at the hammam, you can choose other Hamam treatment options from the list. Oil massage is another popular Turkish bath treatment. It's better to reserve in advance to avoid long waitings.

When you arrive at the reception of Hammam, the receptionist will explain to you what to do. You will be escorted to your private changing room where you can also leave and lock your belongings.
kilic ali pasa hamami
Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı - Turkish Bath

 

1st step - Undressing

After you changed, it's mandatory to cover your body. Men should wrap the Turkish bath towel around their waist and cover the lower half of the body in most of the hammams.

 

Women should wrap the Turkish hammam towel ( Peshtemal) around their chest and keep the bottom part of underwear or swimsuit.

 

Wear the peştemal(hammam towel), slippers, tie the locker key on your wrist, and let the Hammam treatment start.

 

2nd step - Get warm & get wet

Hot room (sıcaklık) will be the place where your hammam adventure starts. The hot room consists of marble walls and floors all around.

Kurna (marble sinks) installed at the wall, bellystone, or gobek tasi (marble heated platform) are the sections of the hot room in Turkish Hammams.

Use the metal bowl (Hamam tası) and get wet. Lay down on the marble platform (belly stone) for a few moments. You will soon start to sweat.

 

3rd step - Scrub

The skin of yours will start to get soften and ready for a scrub in 15-20 minutes.

Masseur (tellak) for men of masseuse (natır) for women will start to scrub you with a kese ( special hammam cloth ). It's made of silk and will scrub the dead skin off of your body.

Some people might try to joke about how painful the hammam treatment is, but it's actually not as you heard. But you can always tell your attendant if you feel tired or hurt or if there are parts that you don't want them to scrub.

Some basic English words and body language will be more than enough to communicate with the hamam attendants. Receptionists speak fluently.

When scrubbing is finished, be ready for a bowl of cold water shower.

 

4th step - Get lost in the mountain of bubbles

 

It's time to get a long-awaited Turkish bubble massage and wash (köpük masajı). It will be a lot of fun and pleasing while the hammam attendant will fill the bag (made of cloth) with bubbles and pour it over you.

 

5th Step: A hair wash

After bubble massage, you will get a possible rough & quick head wash and massage. Make yourself ready for more water poured over your head until you are completely clean.

 

6th Step: Getting Clean and dry

Hammam treatment of yours is almost finished. Hammam ritual takes usually one hour. But if you want to stay longer, just lay on the belly stone(göbek taşı) and enjoy.

When you are done, the hammam attendant will provide you a towel for drying before you go out.

 

7th Step: Drink, light snack and relax

You will continue your relaxation ritual in the hammam lounge. You can chill, drink tea, şerbet (sweet juice), or Gazoz (soda pop) while you talk with others or just read magazines.

You can later lay down in your locker room and close your eyes for a couple of minutes.

 

ayasofya hurrem sultan hamami
Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamamı - Turkish Bath

 

Things to keep in mind in the hammam

 

Swimsuit or underwear. You can wear your panties or boxers while you get hammam treatment but make sure you brought a spare one after the hammam. Some hammams might ask you to buy soap and shampoo but you can also bring your own. We suggest you buy new soap and kese and give it to the hammam attendant. Do not let him use what his own soap and kese, for hygienic purposes.

Don't get completely naked. Being naked in Turkish baths is normal but you need to cover your genitals. Men wrap with peştemal around the waist. And women do the same around their chest.

 

Feel free to stay in the hot room. Don't be hurry to leave the hammam after the hot room after the scrub & bubble wash treatment. You can always stay a little longer independent from your attendant. Some popular hammams may want to put you in a rush because of their busy schedule, but do not hesitate to tell them that you want to stay a little longer on belly stone or anywhere in Hamam.

Use wooden slippers. Use the wooden slippers in the hammam, otherwise, you slip and hurt yourself on the wet marble floor.

You shouldn't take photos inside the hammam. It's obviously a nice atmosphere and you might want to take a selfie with friends or while getting treated. But other people might not be appreciated to be on your photo naked. If you want to take photos, make sure you are taking only yours.

 

Where to go for a Turkish bath in Istanbul

There are different quality levels of Hammams in Istanbul. Hamam prices change according to service, location, and treatment. How will you choose the best hammam in Istanbul that suits your needs?

If you are a first-time visitor, it's best to choose the Turkish Bath service in your hotel. It's the same treatment but you will have more privacy while there are no other people around.

But there is no need of being afraid or hesitant. You can visit one of the most popular hammams in Istanbul and feel the real atmosphere. People were doing so for centuries.

 

Compared to smaller hammams, big hammams in Istanbul can operate a bit more professionally. The reception clerk will provide you the detailed information in English (some staff is multi-lingual) about how to get the best out of the Turkish Hammam Rituel.

Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı
Best historical hammams in Istanbul

 

Luxurious Turkish bath in hotels
  • Sanitas Spa at Ciragan Palace Kempinski Hotel
  • Raffles Spa – Zorlu Center
  • eforea Spa at Hilton
  • Iridium Spa at The St. Regis Istanbul
  • The Grand Tarabya

 

 

Hammam Vocabulary

  • Peshtemal or Peştemal – The most popular item of the Turkish Baths. A lightweight hammam towel is popular for its soft texture and absorbency. It's made of cotton (100%) and drys rapidly.
  • Hamam kesesi (kese) – Hamam Glove or cloth "kese" will scrub off all the dead skin of your body. You can also buy a kese and Turkish hammam soap and treat yourself home once in a while.
  • Olive oil Hammam soap: World famous olive oil soaps of Turkey offer a natural way to moisturize and clean the skin. You can also buy olive oil hammam soap with ingredients such as rosemary and lavender.

 

Turkish Bath Guide for First Time Visitors - How to Get Hammam Treatment 1

turkish-bath
Turkish Bath

 

  • Pumice Stone (Heel Stone): Pumice stone "topuktaşı" has a rough texture which the best way to get rid of dead skins in areas like elbows or heels.
  • Copper Hammam bowl: These nicely shaped bowls help to get water from narrow marble basins easily.
  • Hammam Slippers Takunya: Takunya is generally made from Hornbeam wood and helps you walk more comfortably on the slippery floor. It has a line foot strap that dries fast. Nowadays, many hammams in Turkey are using plastic flip-flops. If you want to experience the old-style wooden Turkish Bath clogs (takunya), historical hammams of Turkey should be the places to visit for the Authentic and Best Turkish Bath treatment.

 

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