Hamam rituals are the basics to have a nice massage and a rubdown. Turkish bath is a relaxing and purifying ritual that everyone should have at least once.
You’ve decided to have a Turkish bath, now what? There is a ritual for getting a bath, a rubdown and a massage in Turkish baths.
A good Turkish bath experience consists of the traditional ambience, lots of steam, hot water and a heavy-handed scrubbing.
There are several actions that take place in a Turkish bath ritual. Let’s see them step by step:
Shampoo, soap, flip-flops, towels and underwear.
All of these are readily available in hamams but there's a charge for all of them.
And wooden sandals in common use might not be a good option for foot health.
After entering the “Camekan” (changing room) you can change your clothes and have a traditional “pestemal” (a kind of a towel, a checkered cloth) to cover your body.
I’m sure you have questions about how much clothing should be on etc… It's customary and totally normal to strip entirely. But if you won’t be comfortable with that you can put a swimming suit on. Problem solved!
Each customer has his/her own private locker here, for the valuables.
Wear your flipflops, take your shampoo with you and enter the Hot Room.
Everything begins when you enter the “Sicaklik” (steam/hot room), where you will perspire and will be rubbed down by an attendant (“natir” for women and “tellak” for men) if you like. The addicted bathers strongly advise this rub!
There is a “gobektasi” (Navel stone) in the middle of the room where you can lay down and feel every pore full with steam.
If you want a Turkish style rub-down the attendant will ask you to lie down on this “gobektasi” (navel stone). Then the scrubbing with a “kese” (an abrasive mitt) will begin.
The main goal of this scrubbing is not trying to strip your muscles from your bones, the goal is simply to remove the dead skin. But you sure will feel like your flesh is seperating from the bones at the beginning.. After a while, you'll get used to it...
Now that the surface is ready so the real bath follows the scrub. The attendant will cover you with soap bubbles and will start the massage.
While the attendant is giving you the famous firm massage, you might feel like your calves and knees are going to crash, but no, they won't. And you might be surprised how flexible your arms and shoulders can be too..
After this relaxing massage the attendant will start rinsing you. This is where your ritual ends. Like all good things…
At this point you come to an understanding of the purpose of the “sogukluk” (cold room). If you want to chill a little after a steam bath, this is the right place for you.
The lounge chairs in a fresh, chilly atmosphere will mean heaven to you because you will be sleepy and thirsty. You can find refreshments here, in “sogukluk” (cool room).
If you don’t want to be rubbed down, you can stay in “sicaklik” as long as you can and you can wash yourself too.
This part is very hot and humid (as one can tell looking at its name), you can feel a little dizzy. If you don’t like hot steam very much, this is the part you should enter; “Sogukluk”, cooling section.
Now you will feel like you're a newborn, after 1,5 hours of bath and massage.
Here you can find more about hamams and massage in Istanbul;