Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Infamous Turkish Bath

Everyone seems to know about the Turkish baths. And when people come, they all say, oh, let's try a Turkish bath!

And then I inform them about the specifics of it and then for most people the interest is gone.

These same reasons are why I haven't yet tried a Turkish bath. A stranger bathing you, scrubbing you down, all while you are almost in your birthday suit.

Finally, this weekend, I gave up my insecurities and visited my first hamam.  While I wasn't brave enough to try a really local place, I think the experience is probably similar. I'm sure I would have gotten a bit less rushed and more friendly experience at a local place, but I wanted to know what I was getting into.

So, I picked out the Çemberlitas Hamam in the old town. It has a history dating back to 1584 when it was built by the prolific Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. I figured if nothing else, I would have a pretty old building to look at.

I got the full service, bathing, scrub, and massage. So what were my thoughts? It was everything I expected and a bit more that I didn't expect. I expected the scrub, the sauna atmosphere of the room, the normal massage. What I didn't expect was the comraderie in the room. Even at a tourist place, there seemed to be plenty of locals, people talking, laughing and lounging (although I didn't do much lounging by myself). And despite being almost in the nude, everyone was so comfortable. Forget about American scruples and confidence issues, we’re all women, right?

Thinking about trying a Turkish bath? I say give it a shot. And, while the hamam I tried was nice, try something with a bit more local flavor. You'll probably get a better deal and better service.  Don't worry about being totally confused, just give in and do what everyone else is doing. You can't go wrong!


  1. Love going to the hamam! I just keep on my bikini bottoms and have no issues with the rest. I also like being able to go to a spa hamam with my husband. We've had great couple experiences in Fethiye and recently at the Gönüferah Hotel in Bursa!

    1. Joy - I enjoyed it! I think it will be better the next time now that I know the routine. We'll have to check out the couples spa