What is a Hamam?

{2:06 minutes to read} In your typical hydrothermal suite found in your typical American  What is a Hamam? by Matt Williamsonresort spa, you have the usual suspects—saunas, steam rooms, whirlpools, relaxation areas, showers, maybe an ice/snow room. The combination of these features provides the guest the necessary tools for wellness and relaxation. A new (though actually really, really old) feature that is becoming more common in these spas is the Turkish Hamam.

The Hamam, an incredibly versatile hydrothermal area characterized by heat and  What is a Hamam? by Matt Williamsonhumidity (but not steam), is rather well-known in Europe and Asia but is essentially a mystery to American spa-goers. What IS a hamam exactly? Glad you asked.

The word “hamam” literally translates as “bathroom” in Turkish and refers to the entire Turkish bathhouse. Its structure and function is derived from traditional Roman bathhouses – an influence forced upon  What is a Hamam? by Matt WilliamsonTurks in antiquity by numerous Roman conquests. When the occupying armies eventually vacated, Turkey evolved the hamam to better suit its Muslim cultural needs, specifically the fastidious cleansing of the body (and soul).


 What is a Hamam? by Matt Williamson

The hamam, traditionally, is a large, domed structure with a central room called a “sikaklek.” The centerpiece of the sikaklek is the “gobek tasi,” or belly stone, where attendants vigorously scrub bathers with a rough mitt called a “kese.”

Other common features of the hamam are “kurnas” (basins that supply water for washing and rinsing), stone tables for oil-massage treatments, and contoured benches for relaxation and socializing.

 What is a Hamam? by Matt Williamson

Modern hamams can often be the crown jewel of the entire spa, with their dramatic domed ceilings and ornate gobek tasis, intricate mosaic tiles and specialized treatments. It’s time for the American public to experience this time-honored tradition.

Matt Williamson
Design for Leisure
715 Discovery Blvd.
Suite# 408
Cedar Park, TX 78613 USA

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