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24 Hours in Istanbul: Getting Legally Naked at the Ayasofya Hamam

Where: Cankurtaran Mahallesi Bab-ı Hümayun No:1 Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Caddesi, Turkey, 34122
January 23, 2013 at 2:33 PM | by | Comments (0)

If you're super-short on time in buzzing Istanbul (which is something that frequently happens with long layovers), we've "been there done that" so here are the things that’ll let you experience the modern side of Istanbul in a rush.

So, you’re in Istanbul and you think to yourself that you should really suck it up (and in) and go to an authentic Turkish hamam, because when in Rome…

We understand you may be feeling a bit unsure about hamam etiquette, not to mention a bit squeamish about disrobing in the wrong hamam. We’re here for you. If you want an authentic hamam experience, but appreciate five-star treatment, go to the Ayasofya Hamam (also known by the rather cumbersome name Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamami).

Built in 1556, renovated, and re-opened as a hamam in 2011, Ayasofya Hamam is right next to the Hagia Sophia (or Ayasofya in Turkish –- ah, it’s all coming together), so make a pit stop there first if you have a half hour or so to spare. Then it’s time to get hot and steamy, in the clean sense, in the hamam. English is spoken so you’ll be able to pick your services with the help of the receptionist and a brochure. Treatments range from the basic 35 minute Pir-i Pak – a traditional body scrub and a bubbly cleansing massage – for EUR 70 ($93) to the decadent 90 minute Ab-i Hayat, which, in addition, includes a clay body mask, an aromatherapy massage, and food treats for EUR 165 ($219). For those really special occasions, there’s even a circumcision after-party hamam where you can invite all your friends to share in the big day.

With all treatments you also have access to the cold, warm and hot rooms of the hamam and your own little bath kit that includes a comb, body scrubber, olive oil soap, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion with the intoxicating fragrance of the Judas Tree (yeah -- we had to look it up too).

This hamam has been re-done as a luxury hamam (as the prices show), but you get what you pay for. Aside from the bath itself, there is a vitamin bar, a shop with products from the hamam, VIP and private treatment rooms, and a restaurant with a lovely terrace café.

[Photos: Janice Tober/Jaunted]

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