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Çemberlitas Bath – our Turkish spa experience

On our last day in Istanbul, with the heavy realisation that our vacation was coming to an end, we planned to take it super easy & saved this day to be spent at a hamaam, a Turkish bath.  We went to Çemberlitas Bath, recommended by Lonely Planet & Foursquare. If you know me, you’ll know I really love spas. I exaggerate not when I say that I could have a massage daily & never tire of it so I was really looking forward to this. Unfortunately no cameras are allowed inside the hamaam (for privacy because everyone is basically naked but more on that later) so I’ve nicked these pics off their website…

One of the domes inside the hamaam – so pretty!

Set on the bustling Çemberlitas Square this historical sanctuary is right across from the Grand Bazaar but as soon as you step inside, the buzzing streets are quickly drowned out. The hamaam was built over 400 years ago, initially as an income stream for a nearby mosque & school. There several offers including various types of facials, massages & reflexology. We bought a package that included a 30 minute massage & for 117 TL (+- R550) per person.

Inside the ladies section of the hamaam. The entire area is warm & feels like a steam room. I love the marble surfaces that made up most of the hamaam…

Men & women spa separately. You needn’t bring anything with you as disposable undies, slip slops & a sarong (of sorts) is provided (of course I had packed my own!). You start off by laying on the raised heated marble slabs which warms up your body, making you perspire & relaxing your muscles. When your turn is up one of the attendants will call you over for an exfoliating scrub, a bubble wash & warm rinse as you lay on the hot platform. The last time someone else washed me so thoroughly I must have been 5!

There is also a jacuzzi & heated pool. The water is very warm though, you can only bear to stay in a few minutes. Its very soothing…

Lust

  • This was so much more than just a spa experience, it was a cultural experience too

Love

  • The hours are amazingly convenient; they’re open from 6am to midnight!

Loathe

  • Ok, so nudity isn’t my thing & except for bottoms, you’re naked through the entire experience. The attendants, thankfully wear bras.
  • I’m OCD so I had some concerns especially in the massage room. The massage bed (where the cut-out is to put your face down into) had a funny smell 🙁
  • Only curtains separates each massage room so the area, like the bathing area was kind of communal too as the curtains we open pretty much all of the time.
  • At the end of massage the attendant attempted to rub some Dove body cream on my face. After much hand signalling she got the message…

If I ran the place

  • I’d have the attendants wear more clothes.

Need to know

  • The experience is said to take around 2 hrs but plan for at least 3 hrs. They don’t work on bookings; you basically have to wait your turn.
  • The best (quietest) time to go is during the day (i.e. working hours).

If you’ve seen the newly released movie Taken 2, the scenes inside the hamaam where shot at this same hamaam, Çemberlitas Bath. I squealed with excitement when I saw the movie this weekend & recongized it! 3 hours later we emerged clean as babies & sat in their lounge, sipping our very last glass of freshly squeezed OJ & running over the highlights of our trip.We picked our hearts up out of our shoes & made our way to the airport.

I enjoyed the hamaam thoroughly & I’m glad I went & had the experience but I think I’ll stick to our Western ones instead – my OCD-ness wouldn’t be able to bear it…

W

Çemberlitas Bath

Mollafenari Mh.  Vezirhan Caddesi 8, 34440 İstanbul, Turkey

0212 522 7974

www.cemberlitashamami.com

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