What to Expect at a Turkish Bath (Turkish Hammam)

by shortgirlontour

A Turkish bath or hammam is a steam bath and cleaning ritual with its roots going back to ancient Roman times. This post covers what to expect at a Turkish bath and provides details about one of the most famous hammams in Istanbul.

Origins

Turkish baths date all the way back to the 14th century to the Ottoman Empire. These baths were inspired by Roman bathing rituals. Back then, they were important not only to help maintain hygiene but also for communities to gather.

Etiquette at a Turkish Bath

Most hammams have separate sections for genders, so if you come with someone of the opposite gender, expect to meet up after the baths. The amount of clothes that come off or stay on may also depend on the hammam. At a minimum bottoms stay covered. Most places give you disposable underwear but you may also be able to wear a bathing suit and keep your top covered as well. It’s fully worth it to pay for an attendant to scrub you. It’s usually recommended that you tip your attendant around 15% in cash after the service.

What to Expect at a Turkish Bath

What to Expect at a Turkish Bath or Hammam

This was my experience at Cağaloğlu Hammam but most Turkish baths or hammams are more or less the same.

After changing from your clothes in to a robe and slippers you are asked to follow the attendant to a hot room with dry heat. You sit there for a bit and break a sweat. Then comes the fun part. From the hot room, you will be taken to the center room, which is a marble room with high ceilings and natural light pouring through. Here, you’ll be lathered up with soap and scrubbed down with an exfoliant paste and a rough glove. It’s truly amazing how much dead skin leaves your body during this process. This is followed by a nice and relaxing bubble massage. The final step is a bath where the attendant will even shampoo your hair.

Once done, you are given lotion to slather on and can enjoy some Turkish tea and delights that are included in your package.

What to Expect at a Turkish Bath

Cağaloğlu Hammam

Completed in 1741, Cağaloğlu Hammam is one of the last major hammams to be built in Istanbul during the Ottoman period. This hammam has been visited by lots of famous people from around the world, who’s pictures they proudly display at the entrance. Although slightly pricey, this is one of the best hammam’s that you can go to in Istanbul.

What to Expect at a Turkish Bath

They have a few packages to choose from. It’s wise to make a reservation early for this hammam. HERE is the link to do this.

Turkish Bath or Hammam vs. Moroccan Hammam

I’ve also experienced a Moroccan hammam and while at the high-level the process is the same, there were also a few differences. For example, in a Turkish hammam, the heat is dry verses in a Moroccan hammam where it’s more sauna like. Another difference is that a bubble massage is not a part of the Moroccan hammam experience. If you ask me, I found a Moroccan hammam to be a little more effective from a ‘getting the dead skin off’ perspective. The scrubbing glove felt a lot more rougher in a Moroccan hammam and therefore ‘felt’ more effective. That being said, both were amazing experiences and you should definitely try a Turkish hammam even if you have gone to a Moroccan one before.

See HERE or below for more information on what to expect from a Moroccan hammam.

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What to Expect at a Turkish Bath

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2 comments

salsaworldtraveler September 25, 2022 - 1:52 pm

Very interesting. I’d like to try a hammam thanks to your explanation.

Reply
shortgirlontour September 26, 2022 - 10:08 am

Thank you! It’s a wonderful experience and you come out feeling anew! Hope you get to try one soon 🙂

Reply

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About Me

Welcome to my blog and thank you for visiting! Believe it or not this blog is not my full time job! I work 8-5 in Supply Chain and run this blog after work!  I’ve dreamed of traveling the world since I was a child and at 42 countries and counting, I am so grateful to get to live that dream.

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