For an international traveller looking for a bit of an oriental adventure, visiting a hammam, or a Turkish bath in Bodrum is a popular attraction. For Turkish people, on the other hand, they are one of the oldest traditions of Turkish lifestyle and they still play an important role in weekly, biweekly, or monthly routines of many Turkish people.
Like in most towns and all the cities in Turkey, there are a few Turkish baths in Bodrum as well. Hammams offer an authentic atmosphere with a promise of a healthier life for locals, domestic visitors, and international guests.
During the history of Turkish baths, From Seljuq Turks to the Ottomans, hammams have evolved and spread in parallel with the community needs. Today, as an inseparable part of Turkish culture, they are still popular.
A Turkish Bath in Bodrum: Bodrum Hamami
First, I must admit that I am not a hammam fan. The moisture and the heat inside are not for me; hence the same reason I had to stop my first and the last Finnish sauna experience on the 40th second.
However, I thought that covering a traditional Turkish bath in Bodrum might be interesting for you. I asked some local friends if they could recommend a good hammam which I could visit and prepare an article about it. A few suggestions did pop up and I chose the Bodrum Hamami because of the positive comments and its central location.
Bodrum Hamami is a family run business. It is located just across the Bodrum Market. Although the building itself does not reflect a traditional hammam architecture from the outside, it was surprising to see how a typical Bodrum house could be turned into a Turkish bath.
Like I said, I do not know much about Turkish baths, Finnish saunas, or hot springs. I am not comfortable with breathing hot air or steam. So, I had to find someone who could provide me with some detailed information.
In my first visit to the Bodrum Hamami, a receptionist welcomed me at the reception. I explained the reason why I was there and asked for some assistance.
I was immediately introduced to the owner, Aydin Heper. He was a kind and friendly gentleman. He offered me something no one could turn down: a cup of Turkish coffee!
We sat on the veranda and started to talk about hammams while sipping black and delicious Turkish coffee. I was having my first bath chat of my life, with a man! It felt weird but it was fun and interesting as well.
It was a pleasant and informative conversation, but I also had to take some pictures inside the bath. When I told this to Aydin, he sent a tellak downstairs to ask permission from the guests having a bath. Customers were also very helpful because most of them were Bodrumians who wanted to contribute to promoting their friend’s business. In no time, my permission was granted.
I took my camera and went down to capture the atmosphere for you. I failed miserably!
After spending 10 seconds in the bath, I gave up and went back to the veranda where I knew I could breathe fresh air. I could not even touch the shutter button. I guess, I was not designed to survive in such a moist environment.
I was so upset for not being able to take some pictures. However, Aydin had a great idea. He was a real problem solver and told me that I could come here before the opening to take my pictures. He was going to meet me there at 5am next day, an hour earlier from the opening.
After we met, I could at last manage to capture some images even if they were not exactly how I wanted them to be. After I left the hammam, I realized that my camera lens had steamed up, making most of the photos useless. Well, still better than nothing, right?
Turkish Bath Essentials 101
Bodrum Hamami opens every day at 6am and closes at midnight. It has separate quarters for women and men. Female guests are served by female masseurs and male by male masseurs. This is a very traditional way. Most hotel SPA’s and touristic Turkish baths in Bodrum do not do that anymore.
At the reception desk, you can find the price list of various services which they offer in multiple languages. The payment is collected after the session, on your way out.
Leaving a tip to your natir (the masseuse) – or tellak (the masseur) would be a kind gesture. However, you do not have to do that unless you want it. As explained in Tipping in Turkey, 10% of the total price is the most common practice.
When entering the bath section from the reception area, clean towels and slippers are available for your disposal. However, you can bring yours if you would feel better. You can stay inside as long as you want with no extra charge.
It is up to you to use your own pestemal – a cotton towel – in the hammam or wearing your swimsuit. Aydin said some of the guests prefer to get in with their underwear and it is just fine too. But for the last scenario, you better bring some spare underwear. When they get wet, drying them takes time because of the moisture.
The typical treatment cycle starts with taking a shower. After cleaning up, you need to wait at least 15 minutes in the hot chamber, letting your body to warm up. Sit on the gobek tasi (central massage platform) or next to a kurna (basin of a bath), chat with the people around you. Soon, you will be good to go through your authentic hammam experience.
Next step is scrubbing and a bubble massage which takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Lie down on the warm marble platform in the middle and enjoy. Your natir or tellak will be guiding you.
If you ask for an extra oil massage, your body needs to cool down first. You can go upstairs to have some refreshments, or you may wait in the cool room to relax or even to take a nap. Please note that only the soft drinks are being served.
Oil massage is something like an aroma therapy. You can choose almond or lemon blossom oil. It takes around 20 minutes, I was told.
A Few Final Words
The most crowded times are between noon and sunset. Take your time and schedule at least one and a half hour to enjoy your traditional hammam experience.
Locker rooms are for changing your clothes and leaving your belongings. However, the management asks not to leave anything valuable in the room. There are no security cameras in the building due to privacy concerns, so they do not accept responsibility for the lost items. You can leave your valuables with the receptionist instead, if you have to.
A Turkish bath in Bodrum, or anywhere in the country, has high moisture and hot air inside. It is just like a Finnish sauna. If you get uncomfortable like me in such places, do not push it too hard. I want you to experience as many cultural experiences as possible, however health and safety must always come first.
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