Departing from Toronto en route to Accra, I used Turkish Airlines throughout this whole experience. Turkish Airlines offered layover options where you can stay a few nights in the country or have a complimentary day tour of Istanbul. Due to the unconventional times, we are in, Turkish Airlines does not offer these services. However, I was able to book a multi-city airfare which allowed me to stay in Istanbul for a few days without having to pay any additional costs to my airfare ticket. In a way, I created my own layover option. Of course, I took advantage and landed in Istanbul as a solo traveler to see what the city has to offer.
It was during February when I walked the streets of Istanbul, which is the height of their winter season. While on this trip, it was Valentines’ Day, and what better to take me on a date than a traditional Turkish Hammam experience. I search all over Instagram and TripAdvisor looking for photos and reviews of Hammams nearby my hotel. I officially found the right place in the Sultanahmet neighborhood of Istanbul, an extremely popular tourist area. I headed over to Sultan Suleyman Hammam and I got lost at first finding the location but Mohaned, a gentleman that works there met me nearby and we walked over to the spa. From inception, I was greeted with black tea, chocolate, and biscuits held a lovely conversation about Turkish Hammam culture and discussed the options for a fulfilled experience.
Mohaned suggested the Premium package that included a sauna, steam, Turkish bath, massage, and full body massage and facial. I thought that since I am traveling solo and it is Valentine’s day, I will take care of myself and get the premium package. They walked over with me to show me my locker to store my belongings, provided a Kashima wrap and slippers to wear throughout my time.
The beauty of a Turkish Hammam experience is a cultural phenomenon in Turkey. It is an old tradition where communities use these places as a social gathering. You can be completely naked or wear minimal garments while walking around and enjoying the services offered. Either way, it is a safe space, and you will most likely see nudity while in any Turkish Hammam Spa.
The first step to the Hammam experience is getting in a sauna and sweating for at least 15 minutes. I was lucky that it was slow season because I had the sauna all to myself, so I laid down on the bench and let the heat have a go at me. The next experience was hot steam. I appreciate this part of the experience as I have never ever had hot steam done on me. The next experience was the main event, a Turkish bath. The Turkish bathroom looked like royalty as they had an architecture that was beautifully designed. Let me tell you, I was not expecting to get a wash down like a little child. The workers washed me down, then exfoliated my whole body from top to bottom, even down to the private areas. I did not feel violated one bit! Imagine! As a matter of fact, I felt like I needed that exfoliation experience because when I was done my skin felt so smooth.
When I was done with my Turkish Bath, I took a break sat in their waiting room while Mohamed offered Rose tea, chocolates, and more biscuits again. I felt so taken care of at this point, it almost felt like royalty. Afterward, I got my full body massage and facial that took me to sleep 30 minutes after the session was done. Now that is what I call a good massage experience.
Overall, this is what I consider a wellness experience that is a must when in Turkey. It is calming, relaxing, rejuvenating and something I will forever remember as a fond memory of Turkey. So the next time you stop in Istanbul for the day, week, or month, stop in at any Turkish Hammam and treat yourself to some relaxation. Your welcome in advance.