Life in the merry, crushing din of Istanbul sometimes requires a retreat far from the squall of horns and cellphones. Enter the hammam, where you can scrub away the city’s grit, seduced by beautiful surroundings and traditional treatments as tensions melt with the steam. Here are some of the best you’ll find in Istanbul, offering a key combo of privacy, tranquility and lush locale.
Located between the looming edifices of the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque, this historic spot was completed in 1556, built by order of Suleyman the Magnificent for his wife Hurrem Sultan. The beautifully renovated interior showcases the building’s original elements, with soaring ceilings, shining wooden banisters and a spacious bathing room. For treatments, attendants use all natural products. There is both a male and female section within the same grounds. Cankurtaran Mahallesi Ayasofya Meydanı No. 2, Fatih.
Named after (and commissioned by) one of the greatest admirals in Ottoman history, Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı was built by famed architect Mimar Sinan and finished in 1583. After seven years of intensive renovation, you can now bask in hundreds of years of Ottoman history while in the lap of luxury. Featuring gentle service and a magnificently restored bathing area. Women-only hours 8am-4pm (last reservation 2.30pm), Men-only hours 4.30pm-11.30pm (last reservation 10.30pm). Hamam Sokak No. 1, Tophane.
Set on the gorgeous grounds of one of the city’s grander former Ottoman residences, here you’ll find a sumptuous environment, underscored by a hammam of white, carved marble. In addition to the classic treatment, you can opt for VIP with special scrubs like grapeseed or brown sugar. If that’s not quite enough indulgence for your taste, the spa also offers a gold face and body treatment, in which you are literally gilded over. Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul, Çırağan Caddesi No.32, Beşiktaş.
Build in 1584, again by the famous chief Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan dating back to Selim II’s era, Çemberlitaş Hamamı is one of the oldest hammams in the history of Istanbul, located in the old part of the city. If you visit the hammam on a sunny day, don’t miss the chance to lay on the göbektaşı, the large hot central stone. Vezirhan Caddesi No. 8, Çemberlitaş; T: (0212) 522 79 74,
Taking tradition a step further, the iconic Les Ottomans hotel hosts the only Vinothérapie® Spa in Turkey. Here, not only can you take in the steams of a spacious hammam room, but treatments go a step further than the usual scrub-a-dub dub. Choose from signature remedies like an hour-long rose treatment for tired, thirsty skin or an invigorating citrus number that regenerates and renews. Muallim Naco Caddesi No. 68, Kuruçeşme.
True to it’s heritage, the Ritz Carlton tailors to high-end tastes, offering private hammam areas, separate male and female hammams as well as a couples hammam suite. Modeled after the 16th century Turkish baths of the Hurrem Sultan, the Ritz layers age-old Turkish traditions with modern wellness. Afterwards, take a dip in the indoor pool, Jacuzzi or, during the warmer months, recline in the outdoor spa. Süzer Plaza Askerocağı Caddesi No. 15, Şişli.
Sprawled over more than 3,000 square meters of space and housing a whopping three Turkish hammams (along with two private suites and seven treatment rooms), Raffles Spa is one of most lauded in the city, recently awarded Turkey’s Best Luxury Spa Hotel. They have a host of professional attendants well-versed in providing treatments both effective and relaxing, and the spa layout offers the ultimate in privacy, giving you ample time and space to kick back and unwind. Zorlu Center, Zincirlikuyu.