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Have you ever wanted to immerse yourself in a unique cultural experience? When visiting Turkey, especially Istanbul, a visit to a traditional hammam should be at the top of your list. This ultimate Turkish bath experience guide will provide you with everything you need to know.

To have a traditional hammam experience in Istanbul, let’s start with the first question!

What is a hammam experience like?

A Turkish hammam experience involves several steps, which include an overall cleanse, exfoliation, steam, foam, and oil massages

Hammams are communal bathhouses steeped in rich Ottoman tradition. The experience is similar to a spa visit but with a much deeper cultural significance. Hammams also encourage deep exfoliation with the help of hot steam. It’s a traditional experience that should not be missed when visiting Istanbul.

You may ask, “What is the Çatma Mescit Hammam experience like?”. Çatma Mescit Hammam has been a tradition since 1533. At our Turkish bath, experiencing a historical surrounding offers a totally different experience compared to a typical day spa.

What happens during a traditional hammam?

During a hammam session, you’ll choose from a range of services. The session typically includes:

  1. Starting with sweating in the steamy warm room.
  2. Participating in the bath ritual led by a professional attendant.
  3. Full-body exfoliation to cleanse and invigorate your skin.
  4. Soap massage with foam covering your entire body.
  5. Refreshments such as traditional snacks, fruits, and beverages may be served between treatments, depending on the hammam you visit.
  6. Massage treatments like oil or hot stone massages usually conclude the ritual.


Each hammam has its unique structure and services, but this list typically forms the backbone of a standard hammam ritual.

What does a Turkish hammam involve?

A traditional Turkish hammam has three hammam rooms, each with varying temperatures:

If you are wondering about what is a hammam room, let us explain one by one:

When you first enter a hammam, you’ll be directed to a designated dressing room. Inside, you’ll find a locker for storing all your personal and valuable items.

The ritual begins with undressing in the dressing room and then relaxing in the warm room to start the sweating process.

Next, you’ll move to the hot room for a scrub (kese), followed by a soothing soap cover, foam massage, and a thorough rinse. 

The experience concludes with a relaxation period in the cool room to bring your body temperature down, often accompanied by snacks and drinks to enhance your experience.

Last but not least, there is “Külhan” (furnace room), a unique feature of the Çatma Mescit Hammam, where the furnace generates the heat and steam for the hammam. It’s the operational part of the bath, usually located beneath or adjacent to the hammam.

Is a Turkish bath good for you?

Yes, according to many people, a Turkish hammam offers a thoroughly relaxing experience. 

Turkish hammams are well worth the visit with a serene ambiance, providing a meditative and calming atmosphere. At Çatma Mescit Hammam, you’ll be welcomed by the soothing sounds of a fountain and soft background music, which adds to the atmosphere.

Hammam is excellent for the skin. The scrubbing removes dead skin cells, and the steam opens pores, allowing for deep cleansing. The soap used in Turkish hammams is typically natural olive oil soap, renowned for its excellent moisturizing properties. Sometimes, other scents like lavender and eucalyptus are also used, offering the same nourishing and hydrating qualities.

Are hammams safe?

Yes, hammams are hygienic and safe places. However, if you have any skin conditions or are pregnant, we recommend checking with your doctor first. If you are generally comfortable with saunas and steam rooms, you should be fine in a hammam as well.

What is so special about a Turkish Hammam?

Turkish baths, or hammams, are a continuation of a rich culture that dates back to the early Ottoman Empire. Loved by people of all ages and backgrounds, hammams remain a cherished tradition.

The architecture of these buildings is also one of the special things about them. The Çatma Mescit Hammam was built in 1533 by the famous architect of the Ottoman Empire called Mimar Sinan. Today, we are proud to share this timeless experience with those intrigued by its history and benefits.

In addition to these cultural and traditional aspects, Çatma Mescit Hammam is also the best hammam in Istanbul for couples.

To learn more about couple hammam sessions, you can take a look at our hammam packages!

What to expect from a Turkish bath?

When stepping into a Turkish bath, expect to feel an instant relaxation because the whole place is designed for it. The different aspect of a Turkish bath compared to a spa is the hammam ritual you experience. For people who are not familiar with it, here are some of the hammam terms you can get more information about:

Çatma Mescit Hammam has preserved these traditional aspects since the 16th century. At our hammam in Istanbul, near Taksim Square, you can experience everything mentioned above!

Are Turkish hamams mixed?

Most of the communal Turkish hammams have separate sections for women and men. Some of the hammams have sessions for couples, families, and friends. These sessions are completely exclusive to your group.

A 500-year-old Turkish bath, Çatma Mescit hammam offers this private session in their services. You can make your hammam experience exclusive by opting for an elevated session.

BOOK A PRIVATE SESSION

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What do I need to bring to a Turkish bath?

Turkish baths usually provide you with the essentials such as:

  • Towels (peştamal)
  • Slippers
  • Soaps 
  • Washing glove (kese)

Before your visit, it’s a good idea to check with the hammam about what’s included in their package. For hygiene reasons, bringing your items is perfectly acceptable. Hammam towels and washing gloves are readily available throughout the shops in Istanbul, especially Eminonu, and can also make wonderful cultural souvenirs.

As for the dress code, it varies depending on the hammam’s rules. If you’re not comfortable with just a towel wrapped around your chest, you can bring along your own bathing suit

🫧Çatma Mescit Hammam provides all the essentials for your visit.🫧
While you don't need to bring anything, the hammam policy encourages visitors to bring their personal items if it makes them more comfortable.

What to do before going to a hammam?

Before heading to a hammam you might want to prepare yourself with these useful tips for your visit:

  1. Make an appointment: It’s advisable to schedule your visit in advance.
  2. Bring your essentials: Consider bringing your own towel, scrubbing mitt, and toiletries for hygiene reasons.
  3. Stay hydrated: Remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  4. Avoid overeating: Try not to eat a heavy meal before your hammam session.
  5. Don’t forget to tip: Bring some cash to show appreciation to your massage therapist.
  6. Remove makeup and jewelry: It is recommended to clean your makeup and put your jewelry in the safe locker.


And most of all, remember to relax and enjoy this wonderful hammam Istanbul experience to the fullest!

Should I shave before a hammam?

Shaving before a hammam is a personal preference. Some choose to shave beforehand as it can enhance the exfoliation process. However, it’s important that newly shaved skin may be sensitive, and the scrubbing during the hammam session could cause irritation. Consider shaving a day before your visit for a more comfortable experience.

Can I go to a hammam on my period?

Yes, you can go to a hammam on your period. It is recommended to use a tampon or menstrual cup for comfort and hygiene. If you feel uncomfortable, you can always reschedule your visit.

What is the etiquette for a hammam bath?

There are several rules for maintaining peace in a hammam:

  • Respect the traditions and other visitors
  • You should speak softly and not raise your voice.
  • If you’re in a communal session, be mindful of other people’s personal space.
  • Follow the instructions given by the attendants.


This attitude is important to pursue in a hammam environment.

What are the rules of the hammam?

These are some easy and common rules to follow in a Turkish hammam:

  • Showering before entering the steam rooms.
  • Wearing appropriate attire (towel or swimsuit).
  • Using your phone and especially your phone’s camera is not allowed.
  • Tipping the attendants is customary.

     

If you are interested in an experience like this, our Catma Mescit Hammam team is here to help you! Contact us for more information.

Wherever we go there are rules and etiquette to follow. So, how about hammam etiquette? What is Turkish bath etiquette to know and follow? The first thing you should know is even though partially naked, modesty is very important. We will give you tips on how to be modest in a Turkish bath.

That is why we have gathered all this information here for you on what to do in a hammam, and what to wear to a Turkish hammam, so you will have a pleasant and memorable experience. So, don’t be shy and read on to find your answers.

Before you go: Pre-hammam preparation

There is not much preparation needed when you are planning to go to a Turkish hammam but still knowing what to expect at a Turkish bath is better than being surprised by not knowing what to do. You are going there to get cleaned and to have a scrub down, so doing them beforehand is not necessary. However, do take a quick shower so there are no funny smells.

Furthermore, avoid wearing any kind of body lotion or sunscreen. That way, your hammam attendant can give you a good body scrub to remove all the dead skin. You might need to bring your own personal supplies such as:

  •  A towel
  • A pair of slippers
  • Underwear or bathing suit

These are for you to wear during your hammam experience.

Understanding hammam etiquette

With every place comes its own set of rules and a Turkish bath is no exception either. Here we have gathered some of the basic rules that it is best to follow in order to better enjoy the Turkish bath experience. Hammam etiquette that you should follow includes:

  • Dress code
  • Modesty
  • Communication
  • Personal space
  • Cell phones
  • Tipping

Now, let’s give each of them a spotlight and take a closer look to understand hammam etiquette!

Dress code

Even though it is normal to not wear any clothes, modesty is appreciated. During your time in the Turkish hammam, you can wear a traditional Turkish towel called peştemal (peshtemal). Men wrap it around their waist and women around their chest. Some bathhouses might provide you with disposable underwear to put on during your treatment. If you are not comfortable with any of these options, you can always bring your bathing suit and wear it.

Modesty

As we mentioned, modesty is most welcome in Turkish hammams. Even though you might feel comfortable being completely nude, it is not a common practice in a Turkish bath. All hamam attendants wear a hammam towel called peştemal or in some modern hammams, the attendants might have special uniforms.

Communication

Communication is key! Being nice and friendly with the patrons is always a good idea. This is one of the hammam essentials. If you are going to a Turkish bath, you can learn a few useful Turkish words to tell your bath attendant.

You can say “teşekkür ederim” in Turkish, meaning thank you. And if you feel like it is hard to remember, you can memorize this phrase: tea-a-sugar-dream.

Sounds pretty similar. You can also use your body language to show you are thankful. Simply place your hand on your chest and do a small bow even a little head tilt would be enough.

If you want more of these useful phrases check out the frequently asked questions.

Personal space

Turkish people might not be famous for having a big personal space but in traditional hammams, it is a different story. There is definitely enough space for you to relax and not be too close to any of the guests in the bath.

Cell phones

There is no question that cell phones are prohibited inside the hammam. You are not allowed to take your cell phone inside the bathing rooms. No video recording or taking photos is allowed. The hammam staff will give you a locker to put your belongings and especially your cell phone in it.

Tipping

Tipping is not very common in Turkish culture, but nowadays with the growing number of tourists, it is becoming more acceptable. You do not need to tip every single hammam staff, but it is a good idea to tip your masseuse. Anything from 10% to 15% of the whole cost of your hammam treatment would suffice.

During your hammam visit

Alright, now that you have been prepared for your hammam visit, let’s see what some of the hammam etiquette you should follow during your hamam visits.

  • Timing
  • Relaxation
  • Communication

Timing

There are usually no time limits when you go to a Turkish bathhouse, and you can stay as long as you want. However, depending on the place you go to if it is a tourist hammam or a public hammam there might be some time limitations to better service the visitors and avoid any human traffic jams. It is always a good idea to check the hamam policies before you go. With that said, spending anywhere from 1 to 2 hours is common.

Relaxation

Other than getting your entire body clean in a Turkish bath, there is the relaxation part, which is as important as the cleaning. Part of your relaxation is to lay on a heated marble slab and you will have your scrub down and later your soapy wash.

Communication

Whether you are going to a Moroccan hammam or a Turkish hamam you should know that socializing is a big part of the tradition. But that does not mean being loud and disrespectful toward the other guests and attendants. Also, remember there is no pressure to communicate with the patrons or other guests. Even if you do not feel comfortable talking with your attendant simply smiling and being nice will suffice.

This has been our article on hammam etiquette. Now, let’s explore some of the frequently asked questions about visiting Turkish hammam.

Frequently asked questions on Turkish hammam visits

1.
What should I do if I’m not comfortable with the level of nudity in the hammam?

When you learn about the fact that in a Turkish hamam, you will mostly be naked is somewhat intimidating. But the whole experience is not about nudity. It is to achieve peace and tranquility, but if you are not at all comfortable with any level of nudity, you could ask whether the hamam you are going to offers separate rooms for your massage and other treatments. Also, remember you can always wear your bathing suit, and you also have a Turkish towel so, you are never fully nude.

2.
How should I communicate with my hammam attendants if I don’t speak the language?

This could be a challenge especially if you are visiting another country. If you are planning to go to a Turkish hammam, especially in Turkey you could learn a few simple Turkish phrases and how to say them, so you can convey your needs and wants to your patron.

Hello: Merheba

Thank you: Teşekkürler

Please: Lütfen 

Slow: Yavaş

Due to the popularity of Turkish hamam among tourists nowadays a lot of the historical hamams have staff members that speak English so to make your whole experience much better.

3.
Is it appropriate to make a conversation with other hammam guests?

Yes, mostly. Living in the age of technology has made us a bit anxious to have real-life conversations. But a big part of the Hamam experience is socializing. We understand that there are boundaries and for most people having a chit-chat while receiving a full-body wash is quite weird. But if the opportunity calls for it do not shy away and strike up a conversation with your fellow guests.

4.
How can I avoid offending other guests in the hammam?

Generally speaking, if you are a mindful person who follows and understand social boundaries you will not have any problems and for sure no one would be offended. But here are some things to bare in mind. Don’t walk around completely naked. Having a level of modesty is definitely appreciated. If you are going to a hammam with a group of friends or family make sure when you are talking you maintain a low voice. Yes, we said hammams are places to socialize but that doe not mean being too loud. Nobody likes noise pollution.

5.
What should I do if I feel uncomfortable or claustrophobic in the steam room or sauna?

Usually going to saunas or hot rooms are prohibited for people who suffer from asthma and heart condition. So if you have any of those conditions you better let the staff know so they can accommodate you better. If you do not have any of those conditions but still do not feel comfortable or claustrophobic in the hot room you can ask your patron to lead you to the other room so you can relax.

6.
Is it okay to leave early if necessary?

Yes absolutely although you would be missing out on the whole experience. Just a reminder that there are no time limitations so whenever you want you can simply tell your patron so they can better assist you to get ready to leave.