Istanbul’s Bath Houses: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you've never been to one of Istanbul's bath houses, this step-by-step guide will help you get familiar with the process so you can enjoy the experience like a true Turk!A trip to Istanbul would be incomplete without a traditional Turkish bath experience. These centuries-old bath houses offer relaxation through a three-phase process of rest, massage and cleansing. Steam and running water facilitate this luxurious rejuvenation.

History of Turkish Bath Houses

Originally invented by the Romans, public bath houses became part of Islamic culture during medieval times. Often built close to mosques, they were used to provide the necessary cleansing rituals required by Islam. However, modern times have added Turkish baths, or hammams, to hotels as well.

Hotel Büyük Keban, located in the Old City of Istanbul, is one such hotel. Recently renovated, the hotel features a full service Turkish bath experience.

The Hot Room (hararet)

The first room is called a hararet, or hot room. At the entrance to the hararet you will be provided with sandals, known as terlik, and a towel-like cloth called a pestemal. Soap and shampoo are provided unless you choose to bring your own.

Men and women are kept separate, either with separate bath times or separate rooms within the same bath house. If you’re unsure what to wear or keep on as you venture through the hammam, keep in mind that most men will choose to go au natural, just wearing their terlik and preserving modesty with the pestemal, while women will usually choose to wear their underwear beneath the pestemal.

In this large domed room, marble covers the floor and walls. Fountains flow within small niches in the walls. Stained glass windows or other low-level lighting provides soft ambience.

The feature of every hararet is the gobetaksi, a raised marble platform that is heated from below. Visitors lie across the gobetaksi and sweat out toxins. If you have requested a massage, this will take place after you’ve rested on the gobetaksi. The attendant may use aromatherapy oils during this deep tissue massage.

During the next step of the Turkish bath experience, an attendant leads each visitor to a niche. They are washed with warm water, scrubbed thoroughly, and then rinsed again with either warm or cold water. The attendant then leaves so you can finish bathing your private areas.

The Cool Room (sogukluk)

The cool room, or sogukluk, completes this traditional ritual with the third step. Once you are feeling completely clean, relaxed and rejuvenated, you are moved to the cool room. You can choose to take a shower and redress, take a restorative nap, or recline with a cup of tea or a book.

Hotel Büyük Keban Offers a Traditional Turkish Bath Experience

Guests of the Hotel Büyük Keban may enjoy the bath house from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. A fitness club is also available. In addition to our hammam, our spa also offers you a sauna and Jacuzzi in which to unwind after a long day of business meetings or exploration.

Close to the Ataturk International Airport, the hotel is also convenient to the Metro and offers shuttle service. Many of the most popular tourist attractions are within walking distance. Don’t miss the Turkish bath experience or the convenient comfort of Hotel Büyük Keban. Reserve your room today!