Things You Did Not Know About Turkish Hamams

I always hear mixed reviews of historical hamams. Some love it, some hate it. So it is usually very risky to recommend one. The rule of thumb is that luxury hotel hamams are pricey but better serviced, while historical hamams are cheaper and lesser serviced. But there are of course exceptions.
You have probably read tons of info about Turkish Hamams in your guidebooks. I will not try to add any more historical or architectural info. Bringing together bits of details about the “hamam world” and a short list of my favorite hamams is the aim of this article.

Picture of Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı, one of Istanbul's historical hamams.
Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı, one of Istanbul’s historical hamams. © Photo by Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı

5 Things Locals Know, but You Probably Don’t

  • Historically, mothers visited hamams to examine the ‘would-be’ brides for their sons. Remember that hamams and mosques were the top two places to socialize in old Turkish society.
  • A place to feel good ( from a woman’s point of view) as you watch lots of oversized women around. Think you have weight problems? Well, just look around.
  • Don’t be tempted to assume that the hot hamam water is curative or health giving.
  • Hamams are usually chosen for bank commercials. I have no idea why though.
  • Ferzan Özpetek shot a movie named “Hamam”. Great music. Put it in your list of “Things to buy from Istanbul”.

My Favorite Hotel Hamams

Çirağan Palace Hotel

  • Prices start at 120 Euros
  • Cirağan Caddesi 32, Beşiktaş
  • Telephone: +90 212 259 03 73

Four Seasons Bosphorus

  • Prices start at 90 Euros
  • Çirağan Caddesi 28, Beşiktaş
  • Telephone: +90 212 381 40 00

My Favorite Historical Hamams

Cağaloğlu Hamamı

  • Listed in the book “1000 Places To See Before You Die.”
  • One of the oldest Turkish baths in the world, 300 years of continuous business.
  • Claims to have cleaned among others Tony Curtis, Kaiser Wilhelm and Florence Nightingale.
  • Prices start at 60 TL
  • Yerebatan Caddesi, near Cağaloğlu Meydanı
  • Telephone: +90 212 522 24 24

Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamamı

  • It was commisioned by Roxelana, the wife of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent in the 16th century.
  • It was designed and built by Mimar Sinan, the chief Ottoman architect.
  • The hamam was operational until 1910.
  • In 2008 the hamam was restored according to its original features.
  • Their soaps are made of 100% olive oil and specially produced in Edremit.
  • Prices start at 85 €
  • Ayasofya Meydani 2, Fatih (between Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque)
  • Telephone: +90 212 517 35 35

Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı

  • Kılıç Ali Paşa was one of the greatest admirals in Ottoman history.
  • Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı was constructed in between 1578-1583 to serve the marine forces of the Ottoman navy.
  • Commissioned to the great architect Sinan and famous for its architectural lines and majestic dome.
  • Prices start at 140 TL
  • Women only between 8:00 am – 4:00 pm, men only between 4:30 pm – 11:30 pm
  • Hamam Sokak 1, Tophane – Karaköy
  • Telephone: +90 212 393 80 10

Çemberlitaş Hamamı

  • One of the oldest in Istanbul. Every corner feels like Ottoman times. Check out our review of the Çemberlitaş Hamam.
  • Prices start at 60 TL
  • Vezirhan Caddesi 8, Çemberlitaş
  • Telephone: +90 212 522 79 74

Further Recommended Reading

  1. Turkish Customs and Etiquette
  2. Where to Stay in Istanbul – Beyoğlu or Sultanahmet
  3. Istanbul Money Strategy: Cash Or Credit Card?
  4. Do you have a question? Ask it here!

Last updated on 01/07/2015