There are very few times in oneĺs life, other than in childhood, when you are bathed by another individual, particularly when that individual is a stranger. And yet, here you are: submissively being bathed. It is a strangely intimate and sensual experience, without any consequential creepiness.
First we were seated by our attendant close to one of the marble bathing basins. She proceeded to pour bowls of alternately hot and cool water over our heads. Once we were drenched, we lay on a raised heated marble slab and were scrubbed more thoroughly than we ever have been scrubbed before with a rough mitt called a kese. It felt so good it was like having a hard-to-reach itch scratched. Again, by a stranger.
This might also be the time to mention that men and women have separate hamam rooms, but there can, and usually will be, other members of the same sex enjoying a hamam at the same time as you. To reiterate: intimate but not creepy.
Once the top-to-bottom scrub was complete, we were lathered with a big fluffy... sponge, maybe? (Frankly, we donĺt know what it was because, at this point, we had our eyes closed and were in a blissed-out reverie.) Bowls of warm water were then poured over us to wash away the soap. Just when we thought it was over, we were moved over to the seat by the basin again and the attendant proceeded to wash our hair. Once again, bowl after bowl of water washed away all.
At the end of the treatment, we felt like we had shared this oddly intimate experience with someone we will, most likely, never see again.
Our advice to you? Put aside your inhibitions and surrender to this decadent tradition. And do it where you can have a luxurious relaxing experience instead of an unsettling bare-all episode.
A 30-minute hamam at Amrita is 150 Turkish Lira ($83) or 250 Turkish Lira ($139) for 60-minutes.
[Disclosure: Janice stayed as a guest of Swiss˘tel, but the views expressed are her own.][Photos: Amrita Spa & Wellness/Swiss˘tel The Bosphorus]