Hammam Guide

My First Hamam

by admin on Mar.07, 2009, under Beyoğlu hamams

Galatasaray Hamam. Hours: Men’s side 7am-10pm, Women’s side 8am-9pm. Prices are listed in Euros: 26 for a bath, 35 with a kese, 38 with a massage, 44 for kese and massage, 57 for the ‘Pasha’ treatment – oil massage. Beverages are free.

Visited Dec. 19th, Friday, 8:30 pm.

This hamam is located just off of Istiklal Caddesi in an area
populated by tourists, a fact that seems to permeate the
experience of the hamam. The two of us visited the hamam in
December, on a rainy night around 8pm even as the hamam was
to close not far after. The owner greeted us quite warmly,
prices were discussed (interestingly, they were listed in
Euros, another sign of the solicitation to non-Turkish
bathers) and we decided upon a full service experience,
despite the time constraints. This would include the general
admission to the hammam, but also massage and kese. After
being shown to adjacent rooms, the two of us changed into our
peştamals and wooden shoes and were led to the central
hamam proper. Inside there was a quite large stone, emitting
high heat (much to my liking) and the two of us lay upon it for
approximately twenty minutes before the keseci entered. A note
about the space itself – this hamam was quite large, and
again nicely heated, I imagine that 8 men could lie upon the
stone comfortably. At the top of the wall (as the dome starts)
there were neon lights emitting a rotation of the color
spectrum; the revolution was a bit off-putting, however, the
light itself not as much so.

Two keseci entered for the two of us, we were asked what
language we spoke (I, only English, while my friend and his keseci
seemed to have a nice Turkish conversation throughout the
bathing process.) We began on the stone with a massage that
was quite thorough and pleasantly hard before moving to be
seated near the sinks. I should reiterate that this massage
experience was the best that I had received in a bath – there
were a lot of stretches as well as “negative and positive”
interaction, i.e., pulling and pushing, etc. while laying face
down, I was lifted from the stone by the skin of my back
(being pulled from the small of my back as well as just a bit
higher than my shoulders.)

Moving to be seated by the sinks, I was scrubbed with the mitt
(arms, legs, back, stomach and chest, however neglecting my
neck or face. Moving on to the wash, a huge amount of soap
(suds) was used, and then I was rinsed with warm and hot water.

Normally, I think I would have been allowed to be left in the
hamam to for a period of time after the service, however,
nearing closing time the two of us were moved out together to
an intermediate room for a quite cold shower to stand under.
As I was leaving the cold rinse/shower, my keseci made a comment about
my weight; there was some overall joking spirit between the four of us
(2 bathers, 2 kececi) – he pointed at my stomach, which, i’ll admit, is
a ‘little soft’, and then pointed towards his own. I do not remember
the words exactly (they were in rudimentary english, of course, lets
be honest, his English was much better than my Turkish) and something
along the lines of “in a few years you’ll have this” and he grabbed his
large (heavy and stocky, but not flabby) stomach and laughed. He’s
probably right!

When we changed into a dry peştamal, I was surprised that the keseci
were attendant (rather than handing us the peştamal for us to
change alone) in fact they held open the dry cloth for us to
drop our wet ones and step to them nude to be wrapped by them.
None of this was odd or uncomfortable, quite the opposite actually,
however I was a bit unsure of the limitations of nudity within the hamam I
should observe.

Towels wrapped our upper bodies and heads and we moved to our
rooms to change into our clothes (still disappointingly wet
from the an hour earlier!)

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2 comments for this entry:
  1. A List of Istanbul Hamams - Hammam Guide

    [...] Galatasaray (Galatasaray/Beyoğlu, Istiklal Cad. Turnacıbaşı Sok. 24) M W G, also [...]

  2. Bea

    They seem to enjoy lashing out violently on male tourists, calling it the “original Turkish massage,” while the locals receive a soothing treatment and laugh at the way you are treated. My husband is currently hospitalized with a fractured disk and an injured leg. Incredibly enough, despite my husband’s scream when he caused the injury, and watching him leave completely hunched-back, the criminal who did this still dared to demand a tip. All I can do is warn others about this place, since they could care less what happens to you.

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