What is the deal with Turkish baths?

John McCarroll
31 March, 2016

Turkish baths are very old, historic places (some of them exist). Before Turkey; there were Ottoman Empire on these lands. I guess no one have a bath in their private home so people go to "hamam" (Turkish Bath) to clean up! 

There is a "tellak" which a person washes you with some kind of massage on "göbek taşı" (a round stone in the middle of hamam).

I guess you saw more on documentary. 

There's a lot of baths around, but try to avoid the explicitly tourist ones, which normally feature brochures in English of men and women chilling in the Hammam together. Those will be a lot more expensive- although no doubt will be well explained. Those that cater to an exclusively Turkish crowd might be more difficult to understand, as there are a lot of semi-arcane rules to the Hamam, especially for men. I'm also told that there is a bit of a cruising scene at Hamams, although it's vehemently denied by quite a few turks as well.

Anyway, look around for a Hamam in any area but Sultanahmet- try Kadikoy, Beyoglu, or maybe even for a treat, in Bebek or the surrounding areas. Don't expect to get out for less than 40-70 TL, and make sure that you discuss EXACTLY what you want with the attendants. Each time I've gone, tipping has been expected- plan on tipping your masseuse, the towel person, and anyone who does anything for you. 5-10TL should be enough, but again, be sure you've agreed on the price before you submit to any massaging.

Turkish Bath Hamam Spa
John McCarroll

Irresponsible anthropologist and fiction writer. Used to be an expat in Istanbul. 

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