If you’ve heard of Turkey, then you’ve probably heard of the Turkish baths. I certainly had, but wasn’t completely sure what they were! Here’s a brief explanation from Wikipedia:
A Turkish bath is a type of public bathing associated with the culture of the Ottoman Empire and more widely the Islamic world. A variation on it as a method of cleansing and relaxation became popular during the Victorian era, and then spread through the British Empire and Western Europe. The buildings are similar to the thermae (Roman baths). Unlike Russian banya, the focus is on water, as distinct from ambient steam.
The process involved in taking a Turkish bath is similar to that of a sauna, but is more closely related to ancient Greek and ancient Roman bathing practices. It starts with relaxation in a room heated by a continuous flow of hot, dry air, allowing the bather to perspire freely. Bathers may then move to an even hotter room before they wash in cold water. After performing a full body wash and receiving a massage, bathers finally retire to the cooling-room for a period of relaxation.
We knew we wanted to experience the baths because we would maybe never have the chance again. When we checked into our hotel in Istanbul we walked around and checked out the spa. The manager showed us their baths and gave us the prices for the treatments there, but we turned it down because we wanted to check out the local baths first.
As we started to do research we found only two baths relatively close to us that allowed both men and women. We eventually decided to go with the option in the hotel because the others would have us taking public transit. It seemed weird to get all clean, have a massage and then take a couple trains back to the hotel. We wanted it to be relaxing so we headed to the spa and booked the bath treatment for the next day.
You prepare for the Turkish baths in much the same way you would for a massage by wearing what makes you comfortable. They are very discreet and use a towel to keep you covered as well.
There were five steps to our experience and it took approximately 3.5 hours!
First, we sat in the sauna for a set amount of time. I’m not sure exactly how long, but long enough to get good and sweaty! I am not a sauna fan at all but I survived this part knowing that it wouldn’t be too long.
After the sauna, we were taken to the washing room where we laid on the marble slab in the middle. The two men that were taking care of us filled buckets of hot water and poured it on us before using rough cloths to scrub our skin clean. I have to say that I thought my skin was going to rub right off because of how hard they were scrubbing, but when it was over my skin felt amazing. It was definitely an interesting experience and leaves you feeling incredibly clean!
THE FOAM MASSAGE
After we were scrubbed clean, buckets of foam (yes, foam) were filled and drapped over us and then massaged into our skin. It is really something that is difficult to explain, but it moisturizes the skin at the same time as giving you a deep tissue massage.
After the foam was rinsed off, we put our robes on and headed to the lounge area where we were given a mud face mask and served tea. I could’ve fallen asleep sitting there but once we finished our tea we had one more step!
We finished with a second massage that was a little less intense than the first one. I like a deep tissue massage but sometimes I really thought I was going to have bruises (which I would take any day over a masseuse who barely digs in!). The second massage was in a regular massage room with oil and relaxing music.
I loved our Turkish bath experience and I don’t regret doing it at our hotel at all. It was really nice to be able to go upstairs in our robes, have a regular shower immediately and get ready for dinner. It was definitely unique but I would do it again in a heartbeat! If you ever go to Turkey, make sure you don’t miss out on this opportunity to try the Turkish baths!
If you have missed my other posts about this trip, be sure to check them out!