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“Once Was Quite Enough”
Review of Cagaloglu Hamami

Cagaloglu Hamami
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Turkish Bath Experience in Istanbul with one-way...
Ranked #11 of 221 Spas & Wellness in Istanbul
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Cagaloglu Turkish Bath was built in 1741 to provide revenue for both the library of Mahmut I, the Ottoman Sultan of the time, in Hagia Sophia Kulliye (social complex) and for Hagia Sophia Mosque . Architectural plans of the bath was designed by Suleyman Aga, the architect of the court, and the bath was built by Abdullah Aga. Before the construction of Cagaloglu Turkish Bath, the palace built by Nevsehirli Damat Ibrahim Pasa stood on the same location. The palace was destroyed by a fire in 1740, and construction of the Cagaloglu Bath started soon after. The bath has both historical and architectural importance as it is the last great Turkish bath constructed before Sultan Mustafa III prohibited the construction of great baths in 1768, due to the increasing water and firewood needs of the city. Cagaloglu Bath is one of the largest double Turkish baths of Istanbul. Baroque style novelties, a rarely seen quality in Ottoman architecture.
Reviewed 27 May 2012

There are some things I do just to say that I've done them, and this was one. I paid around $100 for a bath, massage, and shave. Nothing was particularly enjoyable or relaxing and, without my glasses, I constantly was afraid of falling on the damp marble floor. I don't think I have modesty issues, but I just never felt comfortable with my attendant or the setting. Was it worth it? Probably not...but it was a novel experience that I'll remember.

3  Thank DavidMcTier
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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285 - 289 of 592 reviews

Reviewed 14 May 2012

It is only ok, there is no magic as it says in many guides. I would have enjoyed if not the price I had to pay. It was a huge rip off, not worth for the price they are asking to pay (around 40 GBP).

2  Thank Zedes0312
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 April 2012

It appears to be expensive; we paid 50 euros for the wash and the oil massage. The woman that massaged me was very kind and motherly, she braided my hair and generally did a great job. Before I got dressed, she and the other female employees were singing and playing instruments, joking around and smiling at me.
My boyfriend, however, was not too thrilled by the treatment, and even less so after the masseur demanded a tip: "Good massage, good tip"!!!
I guess you can get better (a Turkish woman suggested the Ağa Hamam, but we also went to Cagaloglu after a Turkish friend told us to... so go figure). The building is beautiful and it is in any case worth trying a Hamam while in Istanbul!

1  Thank OlgaMo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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.

2  Thank PennyLibrary
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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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.

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

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