The Naked Truth — What Really Happens in a Turkish Hammam Spa
Exotic mystery often surrounds people’s ideas about what a hammam experience entails. If you have never been to a hammam spa before, you will naturally be curious or perhaps even nervous about what rituals are involved.
It’s very common for people to envision a steam filled room with slick wet bodies laying about. To the uninitiated, the hammam experience is often cloaked in mystery. The number one question first-timers have about the Turkish Hammam experience is: Do I have to be completely nude? Read on to find out!
First-Timer’s Guide to Hammam
First of all, hammam is just the Turkish way of saying ‘bath’ — nothing to be nervous about. The Turks adopted bathing culture directly from the Romans, who basically started many of the body cleansing rituals used today in modern spas. The end goal is still the same as it was back in the 7th century: enjoying a rejuvenating head to toe body wash, scrub and massage that renews the skin and stimulates the senses while easing the mind and soul. Turkish hammam practices have endured for hundreds and hundreds of years because they excel at making the body beautiful and bright!
Turkish Bath Basics: What to Expect
Let’s walk through the basics of a Turkish hammam experience. To begin with, hammam is for all genders and ages — anyone can benefit from the cleansing and relaxing treatments hammam has to offer. And yes, we are getting to the part about being naked!
A classic Turkish hammam experience is imbued with ritual; most hammam spas will follow a traditional sequence of ‘bathing’ services. For the most part you can expect the following order of treatments to unfold in a Turkish bath.
Beginning – Heat Up. Wrapped in a towel you will begin to unwind in a hot steam room, as the steam opens the pores and prepares the skin for deep cleansing.
Middle – Bath Time. After the steam you will be relocated to another spa area that is heated to a comfortable body temperature to rest flat on a long table or marble block, at this stage the spa attendant will douse your body with bucket after bucket of hot water to rinse away sweat from the steam, preparing the body for a scrub and bubbly wash, followed by more rinsing with buckets of hot water. Once the skin is cleansed, exfoliated and rinsed the spa attendant may finish with a full body massage.
End – Cool Down. With the bathing and massage portion of the hammam complete you may be invited to enjoy the steam room again or be ushered to a quiet relaxation lounge wrapped in a bathrobe to enjoy a hot drink and water, along with a delicious snack of baklava or Turkish delight.
The whole process may last from one to two hours depending on the level of service and number of additional treatments you have added to your experience (i.e., a facial, massage, aroma therapy – add-on services during hammam are normally available).
That All Sounds Fabulous, But Do I Have To Get Naked?
Depending on your comfort level there are many modern day options for a Turkish bath experience. For example, a hammam spa might have a co-ed steam room but provide private treatment rooms with same-sex attendants for the scrub and massage services. In most cases change rooms will be same-sex with private changing stalls. Rest assured, most modern spas will cater to guests' privacy preferences. For all genders the treatments are relatively identical: the same massage, the same scrub, however the physical intensity might vary depending on individual guest preferences and the type of spa package they have requested.
You do not have to get totally naked. Your modesty will be respected in a Turkish hammam spa. Many spa guests will opt to bring and wear a bikini swimsuit or full bathing suit throughout the whole ritual, and some guests might opt to wear their underwear (just bring a change of underwear so you can leave dry and comfortable). Modern hammam spas should offer female guests disposable bikini bottoms (disposable mini shorts for males) and a towel to cover the breasts. To make the most of all the hammam treatments it is ideal to have as much exposed skin as possible to reap the full benefits. That said, always do what you are most comfortable with.
To Expose, Or Not To Expose, That Is The Question!
Having exposed skin really is key to the full hammam bath treatment, as you are being washed, scrubbed and massaged from tip to toe. If layers of clothing are getting in the way, you may miss out on the full sensory experience. That said, always do what you are comfortable with. For instance, on your first hammam journey you might keep more covered up until you are acquainted with the whole experience; on your next hammam visit you will certainly find yourself at ease and you may decide to reveal more skin — that’s entirely up to you! Here’s a common hammam bath scenario: a spa guest might be having their back scrubbed and massaged while wearing a bikini, the massage therapist will probably ask if they can undo the back strap of the bikini so as to better treat that surface area of the body. The choice is yours. In a professional spa setting your choices and preferences around nudity will be respected.
There is also spa etiquette to ensure you are comfortable at all stages of the hammam experience. In a Turkish bath you will be expected to wrap yourself in a towel while in the steam room, and in most cases a robe will be provided for moving from steam room to treatment room. A Turkish steam room is often so thick with steam you really can’t see anyone clearly, so even wearing a bikini or underwear beneath a towel, a guest’s modesty is naturally protected.
The Timelessness of Turkish Hammam
Interest in Turkish hammam spas is hotter than ever! There are many reasons why the hammam bath experience is growing in popularity. Hammam rituals are imbued with ancient history, authentic tried-and-true practices that have inspired beauty practitioners around the world since the days of the Byzantine Empire.
There are countless body and mind benefits derived from Turkish hammam — it pampers you from head to toe; creates opportunity for physical wellness and mental reflection; and stimulates the immune and nervous systems to repair and fortify body and mind.
Coming Soon To Birmingham! The New Hagley Road Este Spa & Hammam
Este Medical Group, renowned worldwide for expertise in skincare, to open Este Spa & Hammam at the former Eaton Hotel site in the historically rich and prestigious neighbourhood of Edgbaston in Birmingham, England.
The new Este Spa & Hammam bath treatments will be imbued with the tradition of Turkish hammam and at the same time be a distinctly modern expression of ancient hammam bath rituals. Expected to be one of the largest spas in the country, Este Spa & Hammam will feature 30 clinic rooms and 30 spa rooms as well as steam room facilities. Este has designed an irresistible menu of skincare treatments — from Turkish and Moroccan bath experiences, classic Swedish, Shiatus and Banya massage to Ayurveda, aroma and deep tissue therapies. Plus so much more!
For the full list of Este Spa & Hammam services see our spa menu.
You will soon get to experience the benefits and beauty of hammam in a thoroughly modern setting using the latest technology and most advanced skincare products available from Este Medical Group. Stay tuned for more Este Spa & Hammam updates.