Çemberlitaş Hamam


We went to the Çemberlitaş Hamam this evening. We paid TL55each (A$35) for a visit complete with exfoliation and soap down by an attendant. I was amazed to recognise my hamam attendant. It was Alexei Sayle although he clearly didn’t want to talk about his comedy career. Perhaps he’s doing research for some new material. (Rosalie has suggested that there may be a few men in Istanbul who look like Alexei and some of them might work in hamams.)

The bath large circular chambers are impressive with high domed ceilings with circular lights (rather like a lotus pod). There is a raised marble slab for lying, sweating and being exfoliated upon surrounded by alcoves with hot and cold water for dousing oneself. It is extremely hot and humid. The attendants are rather brusque, heavy-handed (especially for dodgy discs) and perfunctory. I don’t think Alexei earned a tip.

Nevertheless, the experience was very nice although they could make a tiny effort to help first-timers who don’t know what to do. Alexei took more trouble explaining how I should go about giving him a tip than anybody did explaining what I should do. He was waiting for me in the foyer as I was leaving. I disappointed him with the news that I had no money (Rosalie had the purse and didn’t get hit on for a tip.)

There was an extended power failure in Sultanahmet this evening. It started while we were in the hamam. Fortunately, Çemberlitaş Hamam had back-up power that cut in almost immediately. Not so most of the district. You’ll be relieved to know that the muezzins had backup power so no-one missed a call to prayer.

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