Turkish Hammam in New York City

What a great Monday for our New York City readers. You can get one step closer to experiencing Turkey with us by purchasing today’s Living Social offer. The deal provides about 30% off the regular prices at the Russian & Turkish Baths on East 10th Street.

Before you hit the purchase button, let me tell you about our Turkish hammam experience in Cappadocia. Sandeep’s brother generously gifted us two hammam sessions as well as babysitting coverage, so we went on an afternoon date. We were led to a comfortable locker room and given teeny tiny cloths to use as coverage. The first part of the treatment was mellowing in a sauna for ten minutes, after which gender-matching attendants summoned us into a large colorfully tiled bathing area where we lay on heated marble slabs. Hammams traditionally have domed ceilings with tiny glass openings that allow for plenty of natural light.

We opted for the exfoliation and massage treatment, which is the traditional Turkish hammam experience. Exfoliation entails being rubbed rather vigorously with a dry glove. After the exfoliation, the attendant bathed us much like we bathe the kids. The only thing that made being cleansed like a toddler less awkward was the heaping pile of soap that provided ample discretion. The bathing was combined with a great massage, using the suds for moisture in lieu of oil. Just as we were about to fall asleep in bliss, the attendants rinsed us off and patted us dry, resulting in the toddler feelings all over again. We rested from the treatment in a spacious lounge before returning to our parental duties of bathing Ava and Kayan, albeit with much less soap.

The characteristics of a traditional Turkish hammam include separate times and/or areas by gender, a hot room visit followed by a bath glove and massage treatment, and then a rest in the lounge. Tea shops outside hammams restore lost fluids.

The Russian and Turkish Baths in New York are not quite a traditional hammam, but they’ll get you close. The facilities have a mix of coed and gender specific hours. In addition to a soap massage, you can get more global with Swedish, Thai and Russian treatments. While there isn’t a Turkish tea shop outside, there is a small restaurant serving Russian fare. The building is not in a domed facility, but there is a sun deck that serves as a lounge. Resting on a rooftop in Alphabet City after a massage is just about as awesome as relaxing in a tea shop in Turkey.

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2 Responses to Turkish Hammam in New York City

  1. Jack Peisach

    I have personally experienced so much change in New York that it’s so nice to see that the Tenth Street Baths are still going strong. Bathing establishments of this type were not uncommon on the Lower East Side during the early part of the twentieth century, in part due to limited bathing facilities in apartments and as a hold over tradition, especially for Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, where a visit to the “schvitz” was a regular weekly event. I remember as a pre teen back in the 1940’s joining my late father on one of his regular outings to the Tenth Street Baths. Little had changed since than by my last visit about ten years ago except that it was no longer gender specific.

    • Diya

      It is so wonderful that you shared this, thanks Jack! Don’t be too disheartened – the tenth street baths still have gender specific hours. Perhaps you are due a visit and some rooftop relaxation.

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