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“A bit too touristy”
Review of Cagaloglu Baths

Cagaloglu Baths
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Turkish Bath Experience in Istanbul
Ranked #9 of 132 Spas & Wellness in Istanbul
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Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Kas, Turkey
Level Contributor
34 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“A bit too touristy”
Reviewed 22 April 2012

Wanting to give every Turkish bath a chance I went to the Cagaloglu realizing it is not as historic as some, but still old enough (1741). It is listed in the book: 1000 Places To See Before You Die. The architecture was impressive--the service less so, especially for the price, so thus it comes third in my list of possible returns. First is the Cemberlitas, second the privacy of the Byzantium Hotel hamam, and lastly the Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan.

Visited February 2012
2 Thank PennyLibrary
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Syracuse, NY
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Cagaloglu Hamam, compared to a small non-tourist hamam.”
Reviewed 17 April 2012

Hello All,
We've gone to and returned from Istanbul. We had a great trip! I visited only 2 hamams, but I thought I'd let you know what I found. One in Sultanahmet (Cagaloglu Hamam), and the other in Uskudar (Sifa Hamam). Both of these hamams have separate facilities for women and men. If I'd had more time, I would have checked out the Cinili Hamam and the Atik Valide Hamam, both in Uskudar (Asian side).

If you want a non-touristy hamam, you will probably have to go to the Asian side, Uskudar. It's actually really easy to get there from the old city. Go to the waterfront where the ferries are, and find the building labeled Uskudar. (When you come back, you will be looking for the one labeled Eminonu). You pay your 2L into the automated machines, hit "ok" button to get a token, and let yourself into the waiting area through the turnstiles. When the boat arrives, the doors will open, and you can board. It's a 15 minute ride. They usually have a snack bar on the boats, fyi.

First was the Şifa Hamamı, tucked away in an old residential area of Üsküdar. It is located at Doğancılar Cd 33-35 34672 Rumimehmetpaşa. Those are the names of two streets both bordering the Hamam. Doğancılar Caddesi is the larger street, Rumimehmetpaşa is a very small street. Remember that hamams are usually near mosques, often bearing the same name as the hamam. The Sifa mosque is nearby, and it's small!

You will probably have to ask directions multiple times. Get off the ferry, and you will find a big intersection with multiple streets converging. Cross the big street that goes along the waterfront. There is another large street that goes off to the right at an angle, but you want to turn even a sharper right. There is a row of taxis along the right hand side of the street. If you go around the right hand side of that building, you will be in what is almost an alley. follow it to the next street you find, and start asking directions. You can find these streets on google maps, and I suggest you take a map with you.

When you find the hamam, if you face the main entrance (for men), the women's entrance is around the right hand side of the building. This is a bare bones hamam, and is quite "down in the heel" in the "reception" area and resting rooms. It wasn't unsanitary, but wasn't spotless either, and showed some grime of the ages. There was a wood stove in the reception area. There were no locks on the doors to the resting rooms, and this is where you leave all your belongings. That being said, I did not get the impression that people would be going through my things, and nothing of mine or my friend's was taken. The full service option cost about 50 TL. I say "about" because there was some debate about the prices. When we got there, we had brought limited amount of money (as recommended online), but more than the 25TL that internet sources had indicated would cover the full service. The ladies did say these were "old prices". They were asking for 58 TL each, and we did not have enough to cover that, although we had almost enough, and they accepted what we had. Then later, an attractive younger women came in, who seemed to be some sort of authority figure, or management. I approached their group after our service to ask about the "correct" prices, and their ensued a long, heated discussion between the ladies in Turkish. Ultimately, the younger woman seemed to be telling us that we had paid slightly too much, and tried to give us back a few lira. We told them to keep it all, as a tip. We didn't ask, but I'm pretty sure they don't take credit cards there, CASH ONLY.

We were first shown to a resting room together, and were given pestemals, and two very plain, enormous pairs of takunya, or wooden hamam shoes, which we had to grasp with our toes to make them stay on. Inside the hamam itself, it's all made of marble, and seemed clean to us. We didn't explore all the rooms, but were alone in our own small "hot" room, with two sinks and a marble bench of the side. Although there was a cooler room through which we passed on the way to the hot room, all the services were provided in the hot room. I think they might have had several small rooms, instead of one large room with the hexagonal slab in the middle. There was another woman in the next room after ours, which we did not enter. The same natir worked on both my friend and me, one after the other. The scrub was pretty good, although compared to the 2nd hamam I went to later, it was not as extensive. We brought products with us as recommended online, and the natir ended up using only those products, although we did not ask for that. She used the kese that my friend had purchased on both of us, although they had those rough cloth type ones available. There was a little bit of massage with the soap. Anything close to "private" areas of the body was given a wide berth. After it was all finished, I was wrapped in the pestemal, and escorted back to another resting room, where I was instructed to lie down on my pestemal, on the couch. There was an oil massage, performed by an elderly woman, and although relaxing, was not as vigorous as I would have liked. When she was done, I returned to our resting room to dress. Although I had brought my hair dryer, I was told there was no electricity available.

On to the second hamam. This one was the Cagaloglu hamam, which was near our hotel. One afternoon I had stayed back, and my friends were out and about. I wanted to do something, but had been walking all morning, so I wasn't up for a lot of activity. I decided to go to the Cagaloglu Hamam, even though it's touristy, just for comparison if nothing else. The fees were variable, ranging from 75 TL for "self service" to around 165 TL for the "sultan's treatment". I opted for one step down from the top, 144 TL for the works. The sultan's treatment apparently included longer massage, and I'm not sure what else. THEY DO NOT TAKE CREDIT CARDS; CASH ONLY. The facilities as you probably know are very old, but were very clean. The bathrooms seemed new. The resting room I was shown to was old, and contained an old, cheap vinyl reclining couch, which was surprisingly comfortable. There were locks on the doors. I had been given a pestemal, and there were several pairs of simple but slightly decorated takunya outside the door, from which I selected a pair that fit me. I was escorted to the main "hot room", which was as I'd expected, from pics on the internet. It had the beautiful steamy dome, with the circular lights, about 12 sinks around the sides, and a huge hexagonal slab in the middle. I was given some time alone, to "prewash", and to lie on the hot slab. The natir came in after about 10 minutes. She proceeded through the different treatments, and escorted me to the side after each, where she rinsed me off with bowls of warm or cool water. First was a brief soapy wash, then a scrub with the rough fabric mitt (looked like a cotton tea towel). The scrub was very thorough, and she even started to scrub my face, until I told her "yavash" ("take it easy") on the face. She didn't scrub my face after that. It was firm and thorough, but not painful at all, and I have sensitive skin. She did every part of me, feet, insides of thighs, breasts, etc. Then there was another soapy wash, with thick suds from a bucket applied using what appeared to be a large mop-head made from some sort of coarse dried grass. Again, not painful at all. There was massage included with that, much more thorough than what I'd gotten at the first hamam, but not as deep as a typical deep tissue massage. finally, she took me to the side, had me sit on the marble floor in front of her, to get my hair washed. She used what smelled like the hamam body soap, and it was very strong, stripping all oils from my hair. There was massage during the shampoo as well. She did two lathers, and rinsed, and then seemed to be saying we were done. My hair at that point was like a knotted pile of straw on my head. :) I had to ask her for "crema" (cream rinse), which she willingly provided once I'd asked her. Then she escorted me back to the resting room, where I tipped her for her services. I tipped 20%, although I gather that is high by Turkish standards. There were appropriate facilities for drying hair and such, although not especially luxurious. I agree with the other reviewers, who said they had the impression that their natir did want to provide good service, and wanted them to be happy and satisfied. Also, the reception people were pleasant.

Outside the hamam in the reception area, they have a small shop where they sell hamam items at PREMIUM prices.

If you want to buy hamam items, do not buy them at the spa hamams. You will pay quite a bit for the good stuff, but check out Jennifer's Hamam (Canadian ownership) at the Arasta Bazaar, or the "Natural Products" shops in the Grand Bazaar. There might also be a shop selling good quality hamam items in the spice market.

Visited April 2012
11 Thank kendallzemp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Fabulous experience”
Reviewed 9 April 2012

I spent 90 minutes at Cagaloglu and loved the experience. It is not cheap (€60 for a scrub, massage and foam wash), but a total retreat from reality. The lady who looked after me was attentive and clearly wanted me to enjoy myself.I felt welcome and pampered. I liked the fact that you did not have to wear disposable underwear, and the ladies doing the treatments were in one piece costumes. A one off experience and a highlight of my short break in Istanbul.

I tried Cembertitas four days later with my 17 year old daugher, and it was dreadfully disappointing by comparison. Heaving with people, a cursory treatment in the main steam room where the lady administering could not have looked more disinterested, and then a long wait for a massage. I left feeling more stressed than when I went in! Yes it was only €49 for the same menu of treatments, but I felt ripped off throughout. The object was to get you through the main steam room as quickly as possible, with no interest in weather you were enjoying the experience.

Visited April 2012
1 Thank FrrequentTraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
13 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Amazing experience, caring staff, clean establishment”
Reviewed 22 March 2012

I've been to other baths in Istanbul and this is outstandingly clean and well renovated. Female's part is separated but have the same entrance from the street. Masseurs are very nice and friendly, spoiling every guest with big smiles and caring. Service is high level. Fee for a 1h program incl. massage, etc. is around 60 euros. Open until 10pm, excellent relaxation after a full day walk around the city.
5 min walk from Haghia Sofia and the Grand Bazaar.

Visited March 2012
Thank DoriH
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
37 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Worth it for just 1 time”
Reviewed 15 March 2012 via mobile

Good experience for my first Turkish bath. Interesting old building. Service was adequate, but seemed short for the price paid.
Keep in kind that it is quite overpriced, but convenient if you are in the 0ld Town and don't have time or energy to navigate to another. Also, they do beg for tips at the end, like it's expected. I gave him 10 Turkish lira, then left.

Thank nakorsakov
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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