The tradition of a 'Hammam' is chronicled in legends and folklores of the great Ottoman warriors and emperors. Revel in pre-history, and unfold narratives of culture, tradition and society as you go back in time, through a truly transcendental Turkish experience
By: Niyoshi Shah
Posted on: April 4, 2018
LF Says: ★★★★.5
The Ottoman Turks inherited the prevalent Roman public bath paradigm—architecture and custom—as it existed in Asia Minor in the 5th century. They customised it to Turkish predilections and called it “Hammam”, meaning bathhouse in Urdu.
Built ostensibly to give locals a place to cleanse in line with the Muslim faith, during the Ottoman times in particular, hammams became the country's social epicentre where meetings were conducted, matrimonial prospects discussed, and gossip broadly circulated.
Although modern Turks do most of their showering at home, the public hammam is still a significant part of their culture and makes for an incredible experience during your visit.
There are several baths in Istanbul, but one of the most authentic is at Sanitas Spa at the Çırağan Palace Kempinski Hotel, which is a part of the Leading Hotels of the World portfolio. The historical Hammam is adjacent to the Çırağan Ballroom and is the only truly authentic part of the Palace, having survived the fire of 1910.
The Hammam’s interior is reminiscent of the region’s low lying homes, bringing to mind the streets of an Arabian medina. It is an impressive room completely carved in marble, featuring a big dome, several basins and an impressive göbektaşı — the central, raised platform above the heating source. It’s otherworldly, being a masterful interplay of architecture and subtextual traditions.
At the Sanitas Spa, two guests of the same gender are placed side by side in the Hammam room, where you indulge yourself in the endless sensations conjured from water, soap suds, hands and fingers. The 50 minute treatment includes a relaxing steam bath or sauna and deep cleansing through a vigourous full body scrub, The scrubber used is an exfoliating glove which effectively kneads your entire body and improves blood circulation. The heated surface certainly helps n calming down your nerves.
A relaxing wash with a 100% natural soap, followed by a full body massage using silk-soft moisturisers, leaves you feeling refreshingly alive and succulently clean. Even the appellations of the massages offered make you feel like royalty. Choose between Pasha, Sultan, Sehrazat or VIP Hammam treatments.
Throughout the experience guests can opt to wear traditional cotton towels (pestemals) and are treated by specialists of the same sex. Guests can recline for an hour in comfort after the hammam, in a private candle-lit relaxation zone and savour locally sourced fruit delicacies and invigourating Turkish teas.
One heavenly massage, some glowing skin and remarkably fresh disposition later I was inclined to believe that for the footsore, mosque-weary traveller trudging through Istanbul, the Turkish Hammam is the perfect therapy to commemorate your Turkish experience.
LF Says: ★★★★.5
Coordinates: Yıldız Mh., Çırağan Cd. No: 32, 34349 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey