I read so many Turkish bath naked horror stories online from other travel bloggers that my curiosity got sufficiently piqued: I just had to volunteer myself on the naked altar of the body scrub sacrifice for the greater good of this blog (I know, tough…) – a rather painful and awkward experience by many if not all accounts, and see what this Turkish hammam nude experience was all about and if it was worth a good story.
Tales of hammam naked merciless scrubs in crowded rooms, with nude masseuses getting to second base with prude North Americans had me sort of worried as I stepped inside Kiliç Ali Paşa Hamamiin in Istanbul, not really knowing if the tales were true. Thankfully, I quickly learned that the naked Turkish bath experience can be a blissful, relaxing, and absolutely beautiful one.
Without further ado, here’s how I found myself in a traditional Turkish bath naked with a bunch of other naked women and their wobbly bits from all over the world in the center of Istanbul for my first hammam experience. Amongst many great things to do in Istanbul, visiting a naked hammam is something you should not miss.
Visiting a Hammam Nude: My Experience
Traditionally, hammams are annexed to mosques for people to perform ablution, or cleansing, before entering the prayer hall, so don’t be surprised when the place you enter in the nude to be scrubbed off my sins and dead skin looks more like a place of worship than a spa. And in some ways, The Turkish bath nude experience IS a place of worship – being scrubbed and washed under these gorgeous domes where light softly filters through star-shaped cutouts and where the only noise to be heard is the echo of running water with dozens of gorgeous ladies of all sizes – all of us naked – felt like nothing short of a sacred ritual, a worship of the body of sorts. And it was blissful.
The time has come and I enter the Turkish bath naked with only my peştamal (a beautiful Turkish towel, make sure you bring some home!) securely wrapped around my naked body only to get it whisked right off of me by one of the thankfully not-naked hammam lady. After being drenched in warm water from head to toe, I am instructed to join a bunch of women of all shapes already lying down on the heated marble slab at the center of the steamy room. It instantly warms me up and relaxes me.
I take advantage of lying in the Turkish bath nude to peek around and see how the treatment is being performed. I see beautiful naked bodies of all shapes and sizes being scrubbed and massaged under mountains of soap suds. It is a wonderfully peaceful and soothing ambiance and the only voices are from the attendants calling us all “lady”, which I love.
Finally, it is my turn to be taken away from the hot marble slab and, after guzzling down a huge glass of cold water, I am taken to my washing station and instructed to sit down next to the tap my natir (my also nude hammam attendant) will be using to, in turn: scrub me with a mitt, massage me, and wash me with a ridiculous amount of suds she produced by soaking a pillowcase in soapy water, filling it with air to create bubbles and pouring it all over my body after the body scrubs are over. It is so silky and feels truly cleansing.
Then, she asks if I’d like her to wash my hair (duh!), rinses me thoroughly, returns me to the marble slab for a little extra hammam nude relaxation, and finally calls me (lady!) to follow her to the room next door were she dries me and wraps me in a million towels. It feels intimate, almost motherly, and I loved every minute of it. After this, she escorts me back to the main hall where it all started and I am handed a refreshing face towel and ordered to just lay down and relax until my massage therapist comes to get me.
The massage is gentle and the attendant first puts a big fluffy blanket over my body and gently rubs me up and down over the blanket. For some reason, this soothing motion brings tears to my eyes. It’s so comforting and exactly what I needed after leaving South East Asia just a few days prior and feeling a bit lost entering the Western world again. I kind of wished she’d done only that, or even better hugged me, but the massage was very pleasant nonetheless. A lot more gentle than what I have grown accustomed to in Thailand that’s for sure!
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and I am ultimately returned to my locker to get dressed. Unlike some of the horrifying tales I have read online, I feel serene, relaxed, cleansed and my skin feels amazing. I would go to a naked Turkish bath every damn day if I could! It’s such a beautiful ritual and tradition and I urge you to try one if you visit Turkey.
So that’s my nude hammam experience done and dusted! I leave my rejuvenating experience with a positive body image, silky soft skin, and hoping this would be a weekly ritual. Have you been to a nude Turkish bath or an authentic hammam? Were there a lot of naked people? How was your first time? Was it a local hammam and an authentic experience or a touristy thing?
Many thanks to Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamami for having me. As always, all hammam nude opinions all my nude own 😉