This is the most famous of Istanbul's many hamams. It has remained more or less unchanged since it was built on the orders of ... More
This is the most famous of Istanbul's many hamams. It has remained more or less unchanged since it was built on the orders of Sultan Mahmut I in the mid-18th century. It's a favorite for the makers of TV ads, who consider it an essential element when selling their soapy wares! Celebrity bathers are rumored to have included the likes of Franz Liszt, Florence Nightingale and Tony Curtis. These days, locals make up the majority of its patrons. After a good steaming and massage, there's a pleasant bar-cafe where you can sip a bracing glass of tea.
I had been to 4 hamams during my stay in Turkey. Cagaloglu was my 1st and most memorable experience.
Pros: it has the most beautiful architecture, is the cleanest, has the most communicative therapist and the most luxurious individual changing rooms. They gave you a choice whether you want to purchase your own mitten for hygiene and there was a price range to choose from.
Nuva, the therapist, took me inside and explained clearly what to do - strip & pour water until she returned. Then, she asked me to lie on the platform in the centre and explained the processes and that my skin would become soft after the 3rd scrub. The foam bath was fantastic. And they 'arranged' the naked women neatly on the platform at a comfortable distance from each other, unlike some hamams where heads met feet.
Cons: The steam wasn't hot enough, the bath massage was way too short and they didn't have oil massage. Actually no hamam I went to was perfect. Just enjoy it.
As you enter the small corridor towards the entrance hall, all kinds of highly positive reviews on the walls suggest you are going to visit one of the greatest hamams in the world. Well, we were out of this dump within half an hour. It certainly looks the part if you're into stylish and classical ottoman buildings, but staff are continuously asking for tips in a way that you simply don't dare to refuse. I mean, they're all big, strong and intimidating! Self service was € 15, washing and massage (10 minutes) was € 28. That didn't include the € 5 tip I was virtually forced to give for "good service". We couldn't get free water from the dispenser (no cups), but the bar was open for drinks, of course. Before leaving we got a free(!) pair of trunks (value: 1 YTL) for which we were supposed to leave a small tip.
In short: a tourist trap and a rip off.
I just returned from a trip to Istanbul and saved the Hamam experience for the last day and after wandering around the snowy streets this was a perfect experience before heading home. Yes, the spa has a certain shabby elegance but for heaven's sake the place is centuries old. If I wanted pristine, bland experience I could have done a "spa day" in Phoenix. I did the whole package: warming in the tile steam room; silk mitt scrub; soaping and cleansing; massage and hair wash. My therapist did know some English (why would I expect her to be fluent) but at no point did she reiterate the need for a gratuity. In fact, I was unsure as to when to offer it. She was kind, and reassuring and the entire experience was wonderful. I felt very nurtured throughout.
This hamam is really old and beautiful but unfortunately it is not restorated at all. The walls are full off damp and the smell inside the hamam is really disgusting. The personnel cannot communicate in English rather than asking for your money and asking for tip. I paid 50 euro for the best available service and the only thing I got was somebody to saw me where to go without any explanations. At this room I had to do what ever I wanted, self service) and after 15 minutes one guy arrived and with body language tried to tell me to lie down in order to have the massage. Every a couple of minutes he was stopping and asking for extra tip since his job is really difficult. However it is much more civiliased and much much better to have a hamam and massage service in a Hotel. Personally, I’ve tried Hotel Aziyade a pretty cheap hotel and with 35 Euros I had an excellent, professional and great service for almost 2 hours.
This is a wonderful Turkish bath, but anyone who plans to go there should be aware of hidden costs. When we went as a group of four, we were charged an extra 10 YTL for scrub pads that cost .5-1 YTL each when purchased outside.
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