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A Guide to Turkish Bath Houses

Hamam_cagaloglu2

You couldn't go all the way to Istanbul and not go to a bath house. It'd be like going to London and not hopping on a double-decker bus, or visiting Rome and not watching two muscled gladiators have at it.

But the Turkish bath houses might not be what you're used to, so here's some tips, courtesy of the ever-thorough BBC.  First, talk to the receptionist, who will usually speak some English, and firm up what exactly you want. DIY wash? Attendant? Oiled? Pay, then you'll be led to a changing area. Now, the ladies can get totally nude, but the men are expected to maintain a basic loincloth-like coverage (most traditional bath houses, or hamams have seperate male and female areas) and indeed an attendant will give you a small towel. Plus, most vitally, flipflops or wooden clogs: you do not want to be wandering around on wet slippery marble barefoot.

There's a heated marble seating area, and you can sit against the wall, or if confident, lie on the göbektaşı (belly-stone) in the middle. If you opted for self-service, get to it with a loofah and water. If not, your personal attendant will come get you after 15 minutes of gentle sweating.

There follows a dry massage that might be nice and gentle, or like you got jumped by Hulk Hogan. If you survive this, there's a lathering of foam, and a lot of sluicing, with a shampoo thrown in for good measure. By this stage you'll be as shiny as a baby.

The final stage is oiling, but many prefer to skip this as it can lack finesse, and the oils are not exactly top-notch. But, don't be in a rush to leave, as that defeats the point. Chill, sluice, repeat as needed, and savor the experience.

Pictured is the famed Cagaloglu Hamam in Istanbul: you should aim for this one if possible.

Hamam_cagaloglu2

You couldn't go all the way to Istanbul and not go to a bath house. It'd be like going to London and not hopping on a double-decker bus, or visiting Rome and not watching two muscled gladiators have at it.

But the Turkish bath houses might not be what you're used to, so here's some tips, courtesy of the ever-thorough BBC.  First, talk to the receptionist, who will usually speak some English, and firm up what exactly you want. DIY wash? Attendant? Oiled? Pay, then you'll be led to a changing area. Now, the ladies can get totally nude, but the men are expected to maintain a basic loincloth-like coverage (most traditional bath houses, or hamams have seperate male and female areas) and indeed an attendant will give you a small towel. Plus, most vitally, flipflops or wooden clogs: you do not want to be wandering around on wet slippery marble barefoot.

There's a heated marble seating area, and you can sit against the wall, or if confident, lie on the göbekta?? (belly-stone) in the middle. If you opted for self-service, get to it with a loofah and water. If not, your personal attendant will come get you after 15 minutes of gentle sweating.

There follows a dry massage that might be nice and gentle, or like you got jumped by Hulk Hogan. If you survive this, there's a lathering of foam, and a lot of sluicing, with a shampoo thrown in for good measure. By this stage you'll be as shiny as a baby.

The final stage is oiling, but many prefer to skip this as it can lack finesse, and the oils are not exactly top-notch. But, don't be in a rush to leave, as that defeats the point. Chill, sluice, repeat as needed, and savor the experience.

Pictured is the famed Cagaloglu Hamam in Istanbul: you should aim for this one if possible.



You couldn't go all the way to Istanbul and not go to a bath house. It'd be like going to London and not hopping on a double-decker bus, or visiting Rome and not watching two muscled gladiators have at it.

But the Turkish bath houses might not be what you're used to, so here's some tips, courtesy of the ever-thorough BBC.  First, talk to the receptionist, who will usually speak some English, and firm up what exactly you want. DIY wash? Attendant? Oiled? Pay, then you'll be led to a changing area. Now, the ladies can get totally nude, but the men are expected to maintain a basic loincloth-like coverage (most traditional bath houses, or hamams have seperate male and female areas) and indeed an attendant will give you a small towel. Plus, most vitally, flipflops or wooden clogs: you do not want to be wandering around on wet slippery marble barefoot.

There's a heated marble seating area, and you can sit against the wall, or if confident, lie on the göbekta?? (belly-stone) in the middle. If you opted for self-service, get to it with a loofah and water. If not, your personal attendant will come get you after 15 minutes of gentle sweating.

There follows a dry massage that might be nice and gentle, or like you got jumped by Hulk Hogan. If you survive this, there's a lathering of foam, and a lot of sluicing, with a shampoo thrown in for good measure. By this stage you'll be as shiny as a baby.

The final stage is oiling, but many prefer to skip this as it can lack finesse, and the oils are not exactly top-notch. But, don't be in a rush to leave, as that defeats the point. Chill, sluice, repeat as needed, and savor the experience.

Pictured is the famed Cagaloglu Hamam in Istanbul: you should aim for this one if possible.

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