Have any of you been to a hammam?

Old Aug 31, 11, 8:14 am
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Have any of you been to a hammam?

Just wondered what the experience was like for ladies. Is it like the men's section where they just wrap a towel around them? It sounds like a marvellous experience, but don't want to be lying around naked.
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Old Aug 31, 11, 9:29 am
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It all depends on what country you are talking about. Turkey? Elsewhere in the Middle East?

I am a huge fan of bath houses wherever I can find them (my affinity was originally developed when I lived in Russia, where they are very popular). I have done the bath house experience in Russia, Kazakhstan, Korea, Morocco, Turkey, and Hungary, among other places (even the Russian baths in Manhattan!). They all have their own character. I prefer single-sex bath houses--frankly, it's bad enough looking at lumpy/saggy old women naked without having to add in lumpy/saggy old men wearing Speedos!

In Turkey, you can expect a lot of walking around naked, massages if you want them, washing yourself using a copper bowl of water, etc.
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Old Aug 31, 11, 9:47 am
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I was thinking about Morrocco, specifically Casablanca. I didn't realize that different countries have different customs. Thanks for the information.
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Old Aug 31, 11, 9:52 am
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In general, if you don't want to be wandering around naked, then skip the hammam. That's a big part of it.

In Morocco I had a body scrub done with a little terra-cotta scrubber that was so "scrubby" that I was literally bleeding in places afterward. Ouch. If I went again I'd stick with just the washing part!
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Old Aug 31, 11, 1:19 pm
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I went to a women only hammam in Antalya, Turkey last October ~ as posted previous, you'll do better if you have few inhibitions as there are all ages and all body types in the buff... I also wasn't prepared for how long it takes ~ almost 2 hours for 3 of us, but the place was quite busy and we were a bunch of goofs that could speak Turk and no one on staff that night spoke English --- we did a lot of charades.

I had the body scrub (skin peel) but it was with a rough weave linen/canvas pad that sort of looked like an oven mitt.... have to say my skin was fabulous for weeks afterward.

PS - I was given 2 thick fluffy towels and a thin cotton towel when I paid for my hammam (I think you're supposed to wear the thin one in the steam rooms, the fluffy towels feel heavenly at the end - no one could tell us 'Towel Etiquette' ) - the thin towel they give you is a terrific beach / gym shower wrap and they were for sale all over the place - they're like a giant loose weave tea towel.

Last edited by YYCWoMaN; Aug 31, 11 at 1:25 pm Reason: Towel Stuff!
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Old Aug 31, 11, 1:45 pm
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I went to a coed hammam in Turkey. Everyone sort of had thin dishcloth-type (and sized) fabric around them. The fabric is generally too small too cover much and once wet, well, there's not much point to it. I was pretty focused on my own ritual so didn't really notice the others. I do think I might have been the only woman there. The man who washed me gave me quite a scrubbing interspersed with buckets of water dumped over me, and, through enduring that, modesty was the least of my concerns. I must have been naked for the cooling swim in the pool after the scrub.

For me, it was something to experience, but I found the scrub so abrading and painful that relaxing is not a word that would apply.

My hotel had a private hammam. You could reserve it and just privately use the hot surface.

(And yes, the fluffy towels are for bundling up afterward ...usually in a lounger with a juice.)
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Old Aug 31, 11, 1:51 pm
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Originally Posted by YYCWoMaN View Post
I had the body scrub (skin peel) but it was with a rough weave linen/canvas pad that sort of looked like an oven mitt.... have to say my skin was fabulous for weeks afterward.
That's the kind I love. The first time I had one was in Seoul and it was amazing, although it is kind of terrifying to see just how much gunk they can scrub off you! You don't really want to know what you're walking around with on your skin!

The charades aspect can be amusing. I speak Russian, but not Turkish or Kazakh or Hungarian or Arabic or Korean, so most of my bath house experiences have been short on language and long on observation. In Korea in particular, I was alone (a Korean friend's mom had made the reservation for me, but she didn't go in with me), so I had absolutely no idea what was going on or what I was supposed to be doing. But I still had a great time after I watched other people and got the hang of it!
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Old Sep 1, 11, 1:01 pm
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I went to one in Essouira, Morocco. The women working wore bathing suits. The customers (all women) were nude. They used a nylon dish scrubber looking thing on me. It was great. You certainly feel clean afterwards.
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Old Sep 3, 11, 3:13 pm
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I've gone both in Turkey and here in LA (to a Korean spa). Lots of nakedness. It's no biggie since everyone else is naked too. Just enjoy!
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Old Nov 6, 11, 12:56 pm
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Istanbul experience

Went to one in Istanbul with my now-ex-husband and we quickly realized we had to check our modesty at the door. It was a man who took care of both of us, and I almost died of embarassment when he whipped the washcloth-sized towel off my chest and rubbed me there. My ex whispered in horror as we walked out, "He scrubbed my junk!!"

That said, it was extraordinarily relaxing and I felt cleaner than I ever have in my entire life afterward. Just be prepared.
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Old Nov 6, 11, 3:38 pm
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I love those peshmetals for drying off in Stock up on those while you're there!

& yes, you usually are completely naked. Some places you can insist on keeping your panties on, but there isn't much point to it after a while.

Also, be careful if you have thin skin. And be prepared to say no when you really mean it and let them know that you are already bleeding I learnt that the hard way a few years back. ow.
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Old Nov 21, 11, 3:51 am
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I went to one in Morocco with two girlfriends and we got to know each other on a whole new level, let me tell you! We were allowed to keep our bikini bottoms on, but were side by side for our scrubs. We could all see each other out of the corner of our eyes being flung around our massage tables thanks in pools of Argan Oil as three generously sized Moroccan ladies scrubbed every last inch of us down, including an upper leg massage that was on the verge of being an internal exam and a good kneading of the chest area. Prior to entering we were definitely at the modest end of the scale, but we felt completely dis-inhibited after it was over. We still giggle about it several years later...although we never have been so naked in such close proximity again since. I would recommend it if you can get over your embarrassment and we went crazy buying Argan Oil because our skin felt so amazing afterwards.

I've loved reading everyone else's stories, it brought back some great memories of Morocco! Thanks ladies
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