Never been to a Turkish Bath? Have no idea what it’s all about? Make sure to check out the History of Turkish Bath here or our guide explaining just what goes on at a Turkish Bath here before visiting!
Name of Hamam: Kasımpaşa Büyük Hamamı
Date Built: 1533
Traditional style: Yes
Date of Visit: Jan 14 2019
Location: Kasımpaşa Istanbul
Price (in Lira): 35/15/15 (hamam entry/scrub/massage)
Tip Expected: Yes
Drinks: Yes Free: No
There is a section for both Men and Women.
Reviewed for: Men
Final Score: 36.5/50
In many ways Büyük Hamam should hit that sweet spot of being an authentic Turkish Bath with a long history and grand architecture situated just outside of Istanbul’s touristic quarter. In regards to location this Turkish Bath is easy for more adventurous tourists as it’s only a 15 minute walk from Galata Tower. Unfortunately, this hamam with its once lovely historic building and great massages is marred by two main issues: mold control and smell. If the walls could be cleaned more regularly, and the sauna replaced then this would be great place to experience the traditional hamam experience.
Length of stay: 4.5
Note: While we were a bit rushed at the beginning to go for the scrub and massage we were able to stay for quite some time afterwards.
Change room: 3.5
Note: Changerooms were a decent size and comfortable, though there’s obviously an air flow problem as the ceilings in a few of the rooms had mildew on them. Something we hadn’t seen anywhere else yet.
Common room: 4
Note: Large, old, authentic feeling, nice woodstove sitting in the middle of the room. Only issue was that it wasn’t really well set up as an area to sit and relax for long with a cool drink as some other places are.
Note: Büyük Hamam has most of the important features of a classic Turkish Bath; a hot stone slab in the middle, lots of space in the main room and side rooms for bathers to sit and douse themselves with water, and a sauna. The issue is that they decided to mix steam room with cedar sauna. You can’t mix wood and constant dampness without causing the wood to rot and get moldy. Rather than smell like fragrant woods, the sauna smells like mildew and looks terrible.
Hamam esthetics: 3.5
Note: As a Turkish Bath built in 1533 by renowned architect Sinan, Büyük Hamam is a large and fairly pretty Turkish Bath. Unfortunately, the stonework seems to have been heavily abused and what was once likely to have been ornate is now new, cheap, and broken. That being said the bath house is architecturally a great example of classic Ottoman baths. If it were to be even gently renovated it could easily be a stunning hamam.
Note: Surfaces seemed clean but the mildew on the walls ranged from pretty bad to horrendous. The above-mentioned sauna was also a major issue. Overall this Turkish Bath isn’t dirty as much as the mildew needs to be taken care of in some rooms and the sauna needs to be taken care of.
Note: The bathing area was well heated, the sauna perfect (in regards to temperature only), and the hot stone in the middle of the room was great. The water however had only a little pressure and the two faucets were a choice between cool-ish and hot-ish, not exactly what it should have been.
Note: change rooms smelled fine, the bathing area was ok, the sauna bad, but the entry room between the common room and the bathing area was horrific. This is where the bathrooms are and where the scrubbing is done so you do more than just pass by it. The fact that hundreds of mothballs are thrown into the urinals only adds to the stench.
Quality of Scrub/Massage: 5
Note: The scrub and massage were great. One of the most thorough that any of us have ever had. The whole ‘fold you into a pretzel and stand on you’ tradition is alive and well at Kasımpaşa Büyük Hamam!
Note: Staff were very friendly and helpful though the pushiness for tips is annoying. This seems to only be an issue at Turkish Baths near touristic areas as this hamam is.
Never been to a Turkish Bath? Check out the History of Turkish Baths here or our guide explaining just what goes on at a Turkish Bath here!
Have any tips or info to add? Spot any mistakes? We’d love to hear about it.