[Featured Destination: Istanbul]: Istanbul’s bath houses – a step-by-step guide

Confuse by the rituals of the Istanbul’s famed hamams? Here’s a simple guide for you!

  • Discuss with the receptionist on the type of treatment you want (DIY Wash/ bath service by the attendant/ bath with oil massage included)
  • Upon confirmation and payment, you will be lead to changing area with your own lockable room to undress and lock your belongings.
  • Most hamams have separate steam rooms for men and women.
  • A piece of an over-sized red gingham tea tower is provided in most hamams for your usage to travel from the changing rooms to the hamam.
  • Men are expected to main a certain loin-clothy level of coverage and women can subtly drape themselves with their cloths if you do not feel comfortable to bask nude.
  • For hamams with mixed-gender steam rooms and male attendants, it is advisable for ladies to keep on at least the bottom half covered or wear the entire swimsuit while bathing.
  • Either traditional wooden clogs or fluorescent flip-flops will be provided as the surface for pratfalls can be slippery.
  • Inside the hamam, you will be left to lounge on the heated marble. Most places will have göbektaşı (belly stone), a round central platform where you can loll around like a sunning python. Alternatively, take a seat and lean against the walls. This process is to sweat, loosen the dirt and toxins in preparation for your wash.

 DIY service:

  • Follow up with a loofah-and-soap rub-down and douse yourself with water from the marble basins

Bath by the attendant:

  • You will be serviced by the attendant after a 15-minute sweat, at the edge of the göbektaşı and sluiced with tepid water
  • A dry massage with a kese (rough mitt) will be provided, followed by soap and lather your body with an enormous sponge similar to a bubble bath.
  • To complete the process, sluicing will be done followed by a shampoo.

Service inclusive of oil massage:

  • The attendant will usher you into another room for the massage. It is not recommended if you are expecting the used of deluxe oil for the massage.

After the entire session:

  • It will be good to hang around to cool down with a dousing after the treatment

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