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I had heard about hammam years ago from some travelers who spent time in Turkey and Morocco, but I never imagined that a ritual deriving from the Ottoman Empire would be found here in Düsseldorf, Germany.
What is a Hammam?
A Turkish Bath or hammam combines techniques from the Roman bath, Scandinavian, and Asian steam bath which focuses on water rather than steam. Hammam coming from the Arabic word for “bath”, provides a spa-like experience for those who are in need of relaxation.
German winters tend to drag on, dark, rainy, cold with rare glimpses of sunshine. As a result of that, I would often find myself hunching over to the detriment of my crooked spine and generally feeling down in the dumps.
Everything changed when I discovered the health benefits of a Turkish Bath. Indulging myself with a hammam completely refreshes me, both mentally and physically. My back, my muscles, and bones thank me a million times over. My skin is so radiant, forget the Botox and expensive creams, choose hammam.
So, if you need a pick-up here is one of my best tips for life in Düsseldorf (I also wrote a list on the best spas in Düsseldorf too).
What can I expect? And how can I prepare?
Before you head out the door for your hammam make sure you have packed enough towels for drying the body, hair, and to sit on in the steam room. I suggest four towels of varying sizes. Although, you can rent towels at the entrance for a fee of 1 to 3 euros. A warm housecoat or dressing gown is a must when chilling out in between your scrub and sauna.
I always pack a pair of flip flops because the gently heated tiled room with marble stone still has a floor like a locker room.
Hairdryers are usually provided, but you will need to bring all of your own beauty aids and shower stuff.
After you have paid your entrance, you will be given a scratchy loofah mitten, a lock for your locker, and a small Hammam towel called a “ Pestemal” which looks more like a beach wrap than a towel.
Time to get your clothes off; pin your locker key to this small towel and wrap the towel around like a skirt then throw on your housecoat. Later the attendant will use the hammam towel on your body for the foam massage.
Note: If you are uncomfortable about being naked, you can go in your bikini, tankini, or swimming costume. In fact, at the Sahara Turkish Bath, a bathing suit is mandatory and walking around in your birthday suit is forbidden.
The attendant who is always female will suggest you to first take a shower and then a dry sauna to open the pores. Be aware that usually the attendants do not speak English, but don’t worry you can still manage with a few German words and better if you know Turkish or French.
Step 4: Now you are ready for the ultimate experience.
Your attendant will bring you to a large marble slab of a table which is actually called a tummy stone, heated between 50 to 60 degrees Celsius, and instruct you to get on your stomach. Here is when you are allowed and usually suggested to take off your bikini top, so the attendant can give you a really deep scrub. Don’t worry about people looking at you, because the other women on the other slabs can’t really see you through the veil of water and soap. The attendants have seen every shape and size of a woman’s body.
I was at first apprehensive about this whole naked thing but now find it to be truly liberating.
Usually, there are four women being scrubbed down at the same time, but everyone has their own “private attendant” She begins first by pouring warm water all over your body, then the scrubbing begins with your scratchy mitten; from top to bottom, never too rough or too soft just enough to exfoliate off all of the dead skin. Sloughing these dead cells away is a great way to unclog the pores in the skin as a preventive measure to acne.
She gently rinses away the dead skin with warm water from a bucket, and before you know it, the towel has been lathered up soaping the entire body for an amazing foam cleanse. You will be asked to sit up so she can scrub your back again and get a better angle at washing your hair.
Depending on your package she may even give you an extra scrub to the neck and back. Don’t worry, she won’t scrub in between your legs, or scrub your face, although the scrubbing will include your breasts and underarms.
When you get off the marble slab you feel like a new person with soft baby skin. An attendant will guide you to the chill-out area, here you can bundle up in your housecoat and a warm blanket; do nothing but sip on tea and relax.
Where can you experience a hammam in Düsseldorf?
Location: Birken Strasse 41, 40233 [Flingern] Düsseldorf
The Turkish Hammam Düsseldorf is open from 12 PM to 11 PM, the last entrance is at 8:30 PM. No appointment is necessary, just show up and decide which program you want to buy. Bikini is optional. Women’s only days are on Mon, Tues, Wed, Sat, and Sundays. Fridays are for men, and Thursdays are closed.
The basic entrance costs 35 Euros and will give you access to their saunas, (dry and steam) scratchy mitten, towel, body scrub for 10 minutes, and a complete body foam massage with olive soap. You can stay there for up to three hours chilling out, using their saunas and showers.
Note: I always go for program 2 because it entails a complete body oil massage for 25 minutes, foot and face massage plus a face mask while you are chilling. You can stay there for up to 5 hours. It costs 58 Euros which may seem steep but when you calculate how much massage costs and the opportunity to have your body scrubbed and washed it is worth it. Every time I leave the Hammam I say to myself that was the best 60 Euro I could spend on myself.
There are other programs ranging in cost from 45 Euro up to 130 Euro.
Location: Mintropstr. 21, 40215 [Friedrichstadt] Düsseldorf
In July and early August, the Hammam on Birken Strasse is on summer holidays, so I will then head to Hammam Sahara which is located a stone’s throw from the Düsseldorf main train station at 21 Mintrop Strasse which is not the best area of Düsseldorf but don’t let that put you off.
Women’s days are Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri, and Sunday. Men days are Wednesdays and Saturdays. They are open from 10 AM to 11 PM, which also includes holidays. Prices are marginally cheaper than at Birkenstrasse with a 25 Euro entrance fee offering the classic program of scrub, foam massage, access to steam bath and showers. Other more expensive programs offered in addition to the entrance fee include; head massage, Japanese footbath, oil massage, facial treatments, ranging from 45 to 70 Euros.
I really like this place, and my friend from Canada called it “amazing”. However, there are some drawbacks, a swimsuit is mandatory, and due to lower prices, it is rather crowded, so you have to wait longer. Part of the magic of the Turkish bath is also the silence in the chill-out area, if there are several women coming as friends, the chatting more or less defeats the purpose of overall relaxation.
Location: Huttenstrasse 3, 40215 [Friedrichstadt] Dusseldorf
The Argan Garden is the newest addition to a hammam in Düsseldorf, it just opened last year. Although I have not been there, it looks authentic offering the usual service of scrubbing, massage, and sauna. The basic entrance fee starts at 30 euros with further packages from 60 and 90 euros, offering body massage, salt foot baths, and face masks.
If you’re looking for another relaxing activity in Düsseldorf, why not take a stroll through the Botanical Gardens? It’s free entrance and certainly a beautiful sight to see!
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