While recently in Istanbul, I made a point to visit a local Hamam, or Turkish bath. We decided to go to the Cemberlitas Hamam. It is a little more touristy, but still offered the traditional service of a scrub and oil massage. This hamam was built in 1584 by famed Turkish architect Sinan.
After paying, my husband Ray and I went our separate ways to the gender specific locker rooms. It has identical separate spaces for men and woman.
Once there, women who pretty much only speak Turkish directed me to a locker room where I was given a new pair of black underwear and a cotton towel. I put on the underwear and wrapped the towel around me. I was then led into the main room that had a huge round marble platform where I was instructed to lie down. It didn't feel as hot as a sauna, but I soon started to perspire. There were other women around me in the same room. Eventually a Turkish woman came in and dumped a bucket of water on me. She then used a special scrubber and scrubbed my whole body. After that, she took a cloth that was shaped like a bag and filled it with air and soapy water. She squeezed the bag and warm suds flowed all over me. It felt great. She washed me up then sent me off to the room with two baths. I soaked for awhile then had my oil massage which was more like a rub down. It softened my skin, but if I had the opportunity to do it again, I'd skip the oil massage.
Ray said his experience was pretty similar. I really enjoyed it. We had spent the entire day touring and after the Hamam we felt refreshed and ready to have dinner and go out.