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Hamam in Istanbul

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What was your favorite hamam in Istanbul? Why? Services offered? Services performed? Price? Cleanliness? Would love to hear your experiences and comments. Would prefer co-ed so that we could do together. Thanks.

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    Well I debated about where to go when I was there in May, in the end we used the facilities in the hotel we stayed at, Hotel Neorion. Maybe we missed out seeing some of the architecture in an historical one but I felt the attendant at the hotel was very interested in our satisfaction as he was not dealing with many clients as he would in a large public one. Also I liked that at the end when my hair was dripping and we had spent an extended time in a warm wet area, we just put on our bathrobes and went up to our room to get ourselves back together. As far as I know, the price at the hotel was comparable to what we would have paid in a public bath. Our massages were one at a time - I laid on the hot stone next to my daughter while the attendant was with her.

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    The Hamam experience was a big priority for us - we tried 3 of them this past spring.

    1. Cemberlitas - the first one we visited, and we had a good experience. Serves both men and women, but in separate areas (so you can get simultaneous treatments, but not together). We went as it was recommended in Rick Steves' book. Busy, touristy. We liked it enough to think we'd go back. It was our first one, so we were a little confused by where to go and what to do. You just get naked and the attendants who barely speak English kind of lead you and point to what you're supposed to do. I had no idea if I was getting "the usual" or not. A kind lady from Switzerland who spoke English helped me out a bit. They have a pool/Jacuzzi to relax in pre/post scrub. I am blanking on the services offered, but I think it was comprehensive (bubble, massage, shampoo, the usual). When you're done, it's not 100% clear what you do next, but I figured out how to exit.

    2. Hagia Sophia Haseki - I think this is the name, it is literally across from the great mosque. Very touristy, very booked, very expensive - staff kind of made us feel like we should be lucky to snag a spot there. Probably the prettiest inside in terms of colored lights, etc. Some refreshment (tea, Turkish delight) offered pre or post-treatment. My spouse's favorite bath, I think. We could not get simultaneous bath treatments, so I had a massage instead which was not very good. Very convenient if you're in the area already for sightseeing. Separate men's and women's entrances on opposite sides of the building, so you could make appointments at the same time but would have to arrange to meet up somewhere in the middle afterward.

    3. Cagologlu - the last hamam of our trip. Also in Rick Steves' book, I believe, and on the list of 1000 Places You Must See Before You Die (and there are signs at the entrance letting you know just that.) Pictures of all the celebrities who have been there are on the walls. We tried to make some arrangements to spend a little more to have a longer massage and scrubbing experience. Again, probably because of language miscommunication, I ended up getting a fantastic experience twice as long for regular price and my spouse got a regular length experience which wasn't very enjoyable and was asked on the spot to give more money. That wasn't very appreciated and left a sour taste on our last night in Istanbul (we were told in advance how much we'd need to pay and brought that exact amount plus little extra for tip, so it was awkward to say the least). Again men and women with separate treatments at same time.

    It was a great experience - you do need to let your inhibitions go and enjoy it for what it is. The water had a strange, sulfuric smell to it when we first started, so I wasn't sure, but it's true what they say - you do really come out feeling the cleanest you ever have! We were kind of addicts - which is why we tried 3 different hamams! If you have more specific questions, feel free to ask and I'll see if we can remember more.

    Enjoy!

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