The suites in Istanbul's Hotel
Niles include private hamams (Turkish
baths)—a real treat.
Here are some tips on how to enjoy
The tradition of steam and hot-water
baths goes back thousands
of years. The ancient Greeks and Romans were lovers of
the baths. The Ottomans followed
in their footsteps—and sometimes in
the same historic bath houses.
In the Turkish version, the bath is
panelled in creamy marble and heated
from beneath. You can sit
or lie on the marble and feel the heat
penetrate, soften and relax your
muscles, and open your pores for effective
For washing, water
is drawn from hot and cold
taps (musluk) into the kurna, a
large marble bowl, then dipped from
the marble bowl using a small metal hamam
tası (hamam bowl) and
poured and splashed onto the
body. Water is freely poured
in the hamam,
to drains in the floor.
is applied as desired, and the skin
rubbed vigorously with a kese,
a coarse mitt or loofah used for exfoliation.
A ponza topuk taşı (pumice
stone) may be used to soften calloused
In the Hotel
the private hamams are also
equipped with ceiling-mounted "rainshowers" and
hand-held "telephone" showerheads
for use after scrubbing, or for a quick
shower when there's no time for the
traditional hamam relaxation.
Thick napped cotton terrycloth Turkish
towels were invented
by the Turks for use after the bath,
as was the bornoz,
the wonderful thick terrycloth robe
you cozy as you emerge from the bath.
Both of these hamam essentials are
provided to guests at the Hotel
Niles Suites .
Safety in the Hamam
A hamam is all hard marble surfaces,
with soap, water and wet skin,
it's important to keep safety in mind.
You may find, to your surprise, that wet
feet on wet
marble are not very slippery, but
wet feet on dry marble may
be slippery. Wet
feet on dry ceramic tiles are very slippery! Be
careful when stepping away from the
a pair of new, comfy bath slippers for
each guest. It's a good idea to have
your slippers ready, along with the paspas (bathmat),
for when you're finished in the bath.
The one true problem with the private
hamams in the Hotel
Niles suites is
this: once you get used to yours, you'll
want one at home!
hotel, the Dersaadet Oteli in
Ayasofya hotel district,
also offers private hamams to its guests
in junior suite rooms.
—by Tom Brosnahan