classic turkish hammam inside view

What do you wear in a hammam?

Posted by Pınar Unek on


A hammam is a public bath house. Historically in Turkey a hammam was a place where friends would gather, have a bath and socialise. For many women, it was commonly a place where you would gather for a hen party with women from both families attending. 



When you enter a hammam, you would be asked to get changed, then sit in the steam room to relax and soften your muscles. You would then be taken to the main hammam. Traditionally the interior design of the main hammam is made of marble with seating around the room and a large island in the middle. There are also water taps around the main hammam. While waiting for the person who will exfoliate your body, you can run the tap and start pouring water over yourself with the small bowl (this is called a ‘tas’). If the person exfoliating you is a man, he would be called a ‘Tellak’. However, if it is a woman she would be called a ‘Natir’.


The hammam room is often quite hot. The person who exfoliates your body calls you to lie on the marble island. Here, they will begin pouring water over you with the tas. The water is often hot so brace yourself and do let them know if it is uncomfortable. They will then begin to exfoliate your body using a ‘kese’. A kese is a rough cloth mitt which helps to unblock pores and remove dead skin. They would then exfoliate the front of your body and the back (excluding private parts). When they finish, they would wash you with soap.


At a hammam you can expect to be steamed, soaked, scrubbed and washed. You will come out feeling really relaxed and clean.



Traditionally you would wear a Turkish hammam towel (also known as a peshtemal). We have a selection of beautiful hammam towels, our particular favourites are Santorini hammam towel and Sardinia hammam towel. Most hammams may offer you a hammam towel to use but others may ask you to bring your own. They may also ask you to bring your own soap, slippers and kese as well. For men, the hammam towel is tied around the waist. For women, it is tied around the chest to cover your chest to your hips. Depending on how comfortable you feel, you can either wear your underwear or swimwear under your hammam towel.  Some places offer you disposable underwear. You are exfoliated while wearing the peshtemal but you can choose to remove your hammam towel if you have your swimwear underneath so that they can exfoliate your stomach and back. 



Traditionally, men and women had separate hammams or the time for men and women to enter the hammam would be different. This is still the case in some hammams, however this may not be case for hammams at tourist locations. You should enquire about this before booking a session and choose the option that you are most comfortable with. Irrespective of where you choose to go to a hammam, investing in a hammam towel you will not regret. There are many benefits to owning a hammam towel.



Traditionally, a Tellak would wash a man and a Natir would wash a woman. However, please note that in some tourist locations there may just be a Tellak. For example, on a holiday to Marmaris in Turkey, I went to the hammam and a man washed me. This was not uncomfortable for me because the hammam was full of both women and men and I had my swimming costume on. If you are uncomfortable with a Tellak then you need to request a Natir when booking your session.



The wash itself doesn’t take long but you are often free to stay in the steam room and sit in the hammam for as long as you like unless you are told otherwise.



We bring you a taste of the Anatolian tradition of hammam towels (peshtemal) with contemporary designs and colours. Our products are handmade by family ateliers on traditional looms. They are made using OEKO-TEX 100% certified cotton and AZO free dyes. Our hammam towels are unique and special because they are soft, lightweight, absorbent and compact. What we also love about them is that they are versatile which means you can use them indoors (bath and home) and outdoors (beach, park, travel and exercise) - see the different ways you can use your hammam towel here.


Thank you for visiting our website and we hope you have enjoyed your time here.


Before we end this blog we would like to leave you with a quote: 

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain

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