Turkish bathing and relaxation rituals have a rich and luxurious history.
In early 2015, The Independent’s Tristan Rutherford noted the increasing popularity of spas in Istanbul, the inheritor to ancient Rome and its own bathing culture. More than ever before, he found, old hamams that were closed off for decades are being reopened.
As if anyone needs further motivation to visit this great city.
Nevertheless, whenever you’re ready to take a walk on the luxurious side, we’ve found 21 traditional and contemporary spas in Istanbul that will melt your troubles away.
Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamami
Established in 1556, you must schedule a trip to the Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamami if you really want to experience a slice of Turkey’s history. Take part in an authentic Turkish tradition with such services as:
- Baby bath — This postpartum stone wash includes olive oil, sherbet and fruit. Rhythmic instruments play traditional Turkish music.
- Groom bath — Intended for men soon to be married, this is an aromatherapy massage using specific essential oils.
- Bride bath — Similar to the groom bath, women receive henna application and a clay body mask that moisturizes the skin before her big day.
The Aziziye Hamam was built back in 1860 and remains largely unchanged from those days. There are two identical baths here, one for me and one for women. The Turkish marble flooring is ideal for evenly distributing heat around the spa or sauna. There are also hot steam rooms, cool steam rooms, a resting room and a dressing room.
Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah Spa
The Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah’s spa offers you a sauna, a Jacuzzi, steam bath or a Turkish bath, where you’ll be treated like a king or queen. There are a multitude of packages to select from, including a 75-minute treatment where your skin is softened with silk and pearl, a 50-minute Lomi Lomi Hawaiian and Polynesian massage that targets your arm joints, and a 30-minute foot reflexology treatment that eases energy blockages in your feet.
Golden Age Istanbul
The gorgeous and contemporary Golden Age Istanbul hotel has its own Turkish bath on the second floor. You’ll be taken by the eye-catching wallpaper in the massage room and the sleek white marble spa rooms. Treat your body further after your spa experience by sampling the hotel’s selection of natural vegetable and fruit juices.
Hotel Les Ottomans
Ahu Aysal Kerimoglu, the founder of Hotel Les Ottomans, has one main goal for her hotel: “To seize ‘Peace of Mind,’ the foremost treasure of our life.” If you peruse the rooms available in this deluxe place, you’ll certainly agree. Her hotel is also home to the Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa, where you can indulge in grape-seed scrubs, a sculpting treatment called “Pulp Friction,” and a barrel bath that features a red-wine-extract hydromassage.
Hotel Levni Spa
If you’re staying at the Hotel Levni, you shouldn’t pass on the chance to check out its famed spa. Treatments include an algae body wrap, a salt scrub and a sugar polishing that will liven up your skin. The spa’s facial treatment will erase exhaustion, and a deep tissue or Swedish massage will make you feel as if you’re floating on air.
Palestra Fitness Spa
At the Istanbul Marriott Hotel Asia you’ll find the Palestra Fitness Spa, which staffs personal trainers and includes a yoga studio, a Pilates room and three swimming pools. Sign up for a customized VIP training course with a personal trainer to transform your body. After all that hard work, make sure you unwind in one of two Turkish baths. You can also receive body treatments and skin treatments so you will look and feel your best.
Etiler Masaj Salonu
Etiler Masaj Salonu is part beauty salon and part spa. You can receive body care that treats you from your head to your feet, beauty care for the skin and hair, and a 60-minute dreamy massage. Loosen your tense muscles and feel the stress melt from your body as trained masseuses use Swedish techniques. Other services offered here include stone massages, sports massages, a sauna, a Jacuzzi, detox, aromatherapy and a steam room.
Istanbul Dora Hotel
Istanbul Dora Hotel knows that visitors and residents alike often have jam-packed schedules that don’t allow a lot of time for pampering. The staff here wants to change that, offering “a complete experience which you will remember long after you have gone back.” The hammam offers traditional forms of relaxation, the spa’s masseuses will trigger those stiff muscles, and the sauna will let your body temperature rise while your stresses disappear.
As a part of the Hillside City Club, Sanda Spa is a high-class spa that is especially known for its selection of beautiful flowers. Both the scent and sight of these blooms will calm you down, as will the comforting massages, facials and body treatments.
Miramar Istanbul Spa
The Miramar Istanbul Spa has served women residents and tourists since 2012. Get fit at the Pilates studio, receive foot and hand spa treatments, reduce cellulite with body-shaping therapy, cleanse your pores, get a massage, spend some time in an aroma steam room, soothe the senses in a sauna or experience a Turkish bath. Packages are available, and if you’re a member, you can receive exclusive perks.
Whether you prefer shiatsu, Balinese, Thai or Swedish massages, each is available at Om Spa. Be good to yourself with a body treatment or facial, balance your body and soul with yoga, try a coffee or algae facial, or cover your body with chocolate — which, besides being totally yummy, can promote better blood flow and heart health.
Park House Hotel and Spa
Calling its spa “the pinnacle of relaxing,” the Park House Hotel and Spa is a perfect stay for tourists, businesspeople and locals. Book a massage online or once you arrive to the spa, and in the meantime, indulge in a Turkish bath. Cellulite, reflexology, aromatherapy and Swedish massages are also offered.
Istanbul’s own Iridium Spa at the St. Regis Istanbul imports a New York City tradition first established at the original St. Regis in 1938. The Istanbul space includes seven treatment rooms, three Turkish baths and three indoor pools. Not only that, but the spa is lovely: “Smooth beige marble walls and floors combine with discreet bronze, copper, and walnut accents, while ornate curtain-like metal screens join glass walls to promote privacy and offer an understated nod to the city’s rich culture,” spa management says.
Village Park Resort & Spa
Promoting the bountiful natural wonders near Istanbul, Village Park Resort & Spa opened in 2000 halfway between the city’s Asian side and the Black Sea coast. Its Matsu spa is derived from a term meaning “pine tree” in Japanese, which fits well with this resort’s principles. The endless pool is a great way to get a workout, and couples can share an intimate moment in a private Jacuzzi for two (there are also communal Jacuzzis). Or you can just relax in the resting room.
Sanitas Spa & Wellness
Sanitas Spa & Wellness is a fantastic destination for those who want to shape up, de-stress and walk out with a renewed zest for life. Some of the most luxurious services offered include a caviar skin mask to reduce wrinkles, a Cleopatra massage with essential oils and minerals, and a collection of private bath rituals.
Intended for day trips, the EsteSpa is open seven days a week with limited hours on Sunday. A Pilates instructor can help you achieve a fitter, stronger body. Makeup artists are even on hand for weddings or any other special occasions. Definitely ask about the various types of massages offered, including Balinese, shiatsu, deep tissue, Swedish or Thai.
Angkor Wat SPA
If you’ve never had a medical massage before, then you should look check out Angkor Wat SPA. The masseuses will rub and apply gentle pressure to anywhere on your body that feels sore; the treatment will eventually make that pain vanish. Note, too, that the Angkor Wat SPA site is trilingual: in Turkish, English and Arabic.
A chic hotel in the heart of the city, the W Istanbul sets the standard for modern luxury. Its rooms are borderline decadent, its W Lounge is a nightlife destination in its own right, and its B&G Wellness center offers an array of enticing treatments:
- An Ericson Laboratoire facial treatment (with oxygen therapy or caviar)
- Pedicures (with eucalyptus or green tea)
- Manicures (with almonds or strawberries)
- Bust therapy
- A Turkish hammam bath
- Facials (like Cinderella’s Pumpkin, which treats acne and wrinkles)
- The BG Signature massage, which employs two different techniques to open the body’s chakras
Atlantis Royal Spa Istanbul
You’ll already feel like you’re in the lap of luxury when staying at the Atlantis Royal Istanbul, but make it a priority to spend at least one afternoon chilling out at the spa there. The relaxation lounge in the Digiturk Salon includes rows and rows of plush leather adjustable recliners where you can unwind after your body treatments and sauna experiences. If you feel like getting active, take advantage of the gym, or dive into the indoor swimming pool. The Jacuzzi is a spacious beauty with colorful tile flooring while the darkened massage rooms create the perfect ambiance.
The Chi Spa at Shangri-La Bosphorus
Near the Bosphorus Strait and the Hagia Sophia, the Shangri-La Bosphorus resort hotel looks like a landmark in and of itself. The Chi Spa is the first of its kind in Turkey — Asian healing philosophies are applied to connect the body and the mind and bring tranquility to both. Noting that it has “some of the most indulgent private spa suites in Istanbul,” the Chi Spa also sells organic skincare and health products. Ask for a customized massage or relax in a hammam.
rhythmuswege, leyla.a, Karl Cossio, Dennis Wong, PortoBay Hotels & Resorts