When I go to an event I always try and arrive a few days early so I can experience the location. This weekend I am in Istanbul for DevFest 2017 on Sunday, talking about NetBeans. But friday and saturday are my chance to experience what Istanbul has to offer….
Top of my list to try this year was a Turkish Bath which I booked at Ayasofa (an historic Bathhouse in the centre of Istanbul between Haghia Sophia and the Blue Mosque). I went for the 2 hour top of the range package and this is what happened….
When I arrived I first had to fill out a medical questionnaire and pay. My package (AB-I HAYAT) cost 160 Euros – you can buy cheaper packages with less time and less activities but I wanted to try it all.
I was given my own dressing room where I changed into a dressing gown, a towel and a pair of disposal pants before being led into the main sauna chamber and the hot room. This is quite warm so I was given 10 minutes to just acclimatise before the treatments began. The Turkish baths are single sex (with a different women section) and all the assists in the male section were men.
First activity was a vigorous body scrub to remove all my old skin and a thorough wash. There is a lot of washing in the Turkish bath and it involves a lot of water. Then I was covered in a very soft body clay. It certainly felt very soft and was scented. This was left on me for a couple of minutes and then washed off with warm water. My hair was also washed with some very nice oils.
Next I moved onto the main platform which you lie on and they cover you in foam. My legs, arms and back where them massaged with all the pressure points being released. I suffer from quite a tight back and legs (from years of sports) and I could feel the tension and tightness melt away. Finally the foam is all washed off – lots of more water involved.
After all this exertion, you obviously need a chance to recover, which involves lying on a bed in the cold room while being served drinks and turkish delight. They also brought me a bar of soap – not clear what that was for so I just left it.
The second part of the session involved a full Turkish body massage, including my shoulders and neck. This is quite physical but removed any remaining points of stress or stiffness in my limbs. Finally a mask was applied to my face and my face massaged.
Two hours had flown by and I was led back to my dressing room to dress again before finishing with a Turkish tea or coffee and some fresh fruit.
They promise to make you feel like a sultan and it certainly is not a cheap treat. I do not know how a sultan feels but my experience left me feeling absolutely amazing. My final take – I could definitely aspire to this as a regular wind-down….