For those who have not yet been acquainted with the decadent indulgence of bathing in luxury hammams in Istanbul, you’re in for a treat. A Turkish bath, or better known as a hammam, is a public bath dating back to the Ottoman Empire. It’s the Middle Eastern version of a steam bath but involves several steps to ensure that you emerge with baby smooth skin and a relaxed mind.
Before one begins the process of a hammam, you relax and prep for the bathing ritual by sipping on some tea and change out of your clothes. Next, it’s time to prepare yourself mentally and physically for the upcoming heat you’ll be experiencing. For that to happen, you’re brought to the transition room where you’re given towels before entering the hararet — the hot room.
An iconic feature of the hararet that everyone would encounter is a large and flat marble bed. This is where bathers will lie, have water poured over their body and be scrubbed senseless by the attendants. Indeed, when you experience it for yourself firsthand, the scrubbing will be the highlight of the bathing process.
Perhaps it might even be the only part you remember, as the attendant mercilessly scrubs every part of your body including places where the sun doesn’t shine. Do not be alarmed when you see long ribbons of grey emerge from the scrubbing process. It’s just dead skin cells and no matter how hygienic one can be, nothing beats having a hammam ritual to get baby smooth skin. Trust us — your skin will have never looked better.
After the vigorous skin scrubbing, depending on the hammam, one might also get an invigorating massage after. While it may be difficult to keep your eyes open throughout the process simply because of how enjoyable it is, do take in your surroundings and marvel at its architectural structure. It certainly is grand, especially when you pay a visit to one of these luxury hammams in Istanbul. Read on.
Get a slice of history pie when you visit the Çemberlitas Hamami, a public bath that has been around since 1584. It was initially built for the Nurbanu Sultan and has since been restored to be a hammam open for all. Thanks to its long opening hours of 6 am to 12 am, one can visit for a nice cleansing bath just about any time of the day.
Çemberlitas Hamami, Mollafenari Mahallesi, Vezirhan Cd. No:8, 34440 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey, +90 212 522 79 74.
If you’re staying over at the Hotel Les Ottomans, it’s certainly worthwhile heading over to its Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa — the only one in Turkey. While you won’t get the option of a wine spa here, you can first cleanse yourself with a hammam ritual and further indulge in an hour-long rose treatment.
Hotel Les Ottomans Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa, Kuruçeşme Mahallesi, Muallim Naci Cd No:68, 34345 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey, +90 212 359 15 00.
Yet another hammam structure that is steeped in history, the Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı was commissioned by the famous Ottoman admiral Kılıç Ali Paşa in 1583. What you see today is a result of an extensive restoration process showcasing the best of the Ottoman Empire architecture. We’re sure the bathing area is opulent with all its marble. This hammam does not have a “his and hers” section. Instead, women-only hours are from 8 am to 4 pm and men-only hours are 4.30 pm to 11.30 pm. Be sure to make a reservation beforehand.
Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı, Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mahallesi, Hamam Sk. No:1, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey, +90 212 393 80 10.
If you’re staying over at a decadent former Ottoman residence, it only makes sense that you continue making the trip a luxurious one by enjoying a nice hammam over at the Sanitas Spa. The first thing you’ll realise as you take in the hammam is the opulent, carved white marble making up most of the structure. Also available in the spa is a gold face and body treatment, where you are covered in gold. You might as well go all out.
Sanitas Spa at Çırağan Palace Kempinski, Yıldız Mh., Çırağan Cd. No:32, 34349 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey, +90 212 326 46 46.
Hammams do not always have to be about classic grandeur — modern ones are also applicable. One such example is the Raffles Spa, located inside the Raffles Istanbul hotel. Opened just in 2014 and already winning an award for the Best Luxury Spa Hotel in Turkey, this is one place you can’t go wrong with. It’s a cavernous space and houses three Turkish hammams. Two couple suites have the hammams if you’re hankering for a couple spa. Try the signature Rose, Honey and Sugar Hammam Experience: skin is exfoliated with salt, rose petals, and sugar. The scrub is then followed with an invigorating jasmine and rose infused massage.
Raffles Spa, Raffles Istanbul, Levazım Mahallesi, Koru Sokağı Zorlu Center, 34340 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey, +90 212 924 02 00.