If you're headed off on a relaxing holiday to Istanbul, a visit to a spa or traditional hamam should definitely be on your list of things to do whilst there. Not only is it a great way to unwind, it's a way to learn a bit more about Turkish history and culture; often associated with the Ottoman Empire, there are hamams in Istanbul that have been around since the 15th century.
Unlike traditional saunas that use steam as the focal point of relaxation, hamams use a blend of steam and water. Usually, you'll start by relaxing in a heated room. You'll then move on to an even hotter room, where you can wash with cold water. After a full body scrub and perhaps a massage, you'll retire to a cooler room for the final stage of the relaxation process. Don't be nervous to give it a go; every hamam or spa will have staff members who can walk you through the experience and make sure you feel comfortable along the way. You'll also find that many hamams in Istanbul offer other services such as facials, pedicures, and more.
No matter what you're after, there's sure to be a spa in Istanbul that suits your relaxation needs; just make sure to call ahead and make a reservation, as many of the spas are booked well in advance. It's one of the best things to do in Istanbul!
Here's our list of the best spas in Istanbul.
The Best Spas in Istanbul
Often rated as the traveller's top pick for hamams in Istanbul, Cağaloğlu Hamam, completed in 1741, is often cited as the last hamam to be built in the Ottoman Empire. Even if spas aren't usually on your travel radar, Cağaloğlu Hamam is worth a visit for the jaw-dropping architecture alone. Not only that, it also offers a fantastic array of traditional hamam services and spa packages; choose anything from self-service, where you're left to your own devices in the spa, to the luxurious full-body treatments fit for a sultan.
Ağa hamamı makes the list because it's one of the oldest and most established hamams in Istanbul. First built in 1454 for private use, today it's open to the public. Found near Taksim Square, this hamam prides itself more on its history, not its luxury, so it's one to visit if you're a history buff.
Ajwa Hotel Sultanahmet
The Ajwa Hotel Sultanahmet is more than just a five-star hotel: it's also home to a world-class spa, the Afiya Spa. If the luxurious design and stunning attention to detail don't take your breath away, the wide range of treatments and massages certainly will. This is perfect for those looking for a traditional hamam experience with modern amenities and products. Guests are even allowed to book the hamam for a private experience between the hours of 10pm and midnight!
Çırağan Palace Kempinski
The Çırağan Palace Kempinski spa, known as Sanitas Spa, offers a lot: indoor and outdoor pools (including an outdoor infinity pool with views of the Bosphorus Strait), in-room and poolside treatments, a traditional hamam, and many signature spa packages. Using natural ingredients such as coffee, brown sugar, and honey, guests can be treated to exfoliation, scrubs, and massages. You'll think you've found heaven right in the middle of Istanbul!
Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamam
This exquisite hamam, found in the heart of Istanbul, was built at the request of Hurrem Sultan (Roxelana), the wife of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century. Today it's one of Istanbul's most beautiful traditional hamams, one that offers a variety of bath packages including body scrubbing, bubble wash rituals, and aromatherapy massage. The Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamam is definitely one to visit for any spa aficionados.
NUSPA is unlike any of the other entries on this list, as it is not set up like a traditional hamam. Instead, NUSPA focuses on health and wellness through massage, spa services, and body treatments. With 19 branches around Turkey, many of which are found in Istanbul, this chain is ideal for those looking for the best of the best when it comes to trained professionals and healing massage therapy.
Hotel Les Ottomans - Caudalie Vinothérapie® Spa
At the Hotel Les Ottomans in Istanbul, you'll find one of the world's top spas. Caudalie Vinothérapie® Spa is open to hotel guests and daily guests alike, and with an impressive list of spa rituals, treatments, and packages, you're sure to find something for everyone here. Most of their treatments include fresh grapes and/or grapeseed, so make sure to indulge in one of their signature Crushed Cabernet Scrubs.
Built in the 1830s, Çukurcuma Hamami is one of the most respected hamams in Istanbul. Head here for a traditional hamam experience that features bright, clean designs and impeccable service. While many massages and other treatments are available, the Süreyya Dream package covers it all, including traditional body scrubbing, body massage, and even complimentary herbal tea and dried fruits for some nourishment after the experience.
Kilic Ali Paşa Hamam
The Kilic Ali Paşa Hamam, found in the harbour district of Tophane, is regarded as one of Istanbul's best spas. Its main dome is especially majestic, and serves as a beautiful landmark against Istanbul's skyline. Inside, you'll be in awe of the spa's grandeur, an enchanting blend of the old and the new, the traditional and the modern. Also take note of Kilic Ali Paşa Hamam's boutique, Derya, which offers a fantastic selection of beauty and bath products... perfect for souvenirs, or for recreating your hamam experience at home!
Has all this talk of Turkish spas put you in the mood for a holiday to Istanbul? Make sure to check out all of the top spa hotels in Istanbul.