An ancient tradition that’s said to have originated in Turkey around 1450, the ritual of the Hammam, which is available at the Spa at Ashford Castle, still influences our bathing practices today. The Hamman is believed to be a combination of both Ottoman and Roman bathing rituals, and in Turkish means, ‘the spreader of warmth.’ Originally only visited by men, gradually women were permitted entry to the Hammam at specific times. Historically in the Middle East, it became an important part of a woman’s typically limited social interactions, and the chance to meet friends and family at the Hammam is still almost as integral to the experience as the cleansing process itself.
The traditional Hammam consists of three rooms. Guests undress in the camekan and are given a thin cloth and slippers to change into. After that, they’re lead to the hararet, or hot room. Here, guests lie on slabs of marble known as göbek taşı - belly stone. After a few minutes in the heat, the skin is ready for cleansing with the traditional olive soap; this is either performed by the tellak, or self-administered. This first cleanse rids the skin of dirt and grime, which is then rinsed off and washed away, before a thorough scrub is carried out with a kese, rough mitt. The treatment finishes in the cool room, the , where visitors can relax on day beds and rehydrate with water or tea.
Ashford Castle may be a world away from the Constantinople of the Ottomans, but it is home to its very own Hammam. The award-winning spa offers guests an enticing choice of Hammam Ceremonies, which can be combined with other spa therapies or enjoyed as a stand-alone treatment. Individuals and couples can choose from a range of Middle Eastern inspired treatments that include The Ashford Soapy Massage Cleanse, performed using the traditional olive soap and rough mitt, as well as ‘The Rub’ Herbal Poultice Massage. This aromatic option involves a relaxing session on the heated stone beds in the Hammam hot room, before a restorative body massage performed using heated home-grown seaweed and herbs, which are applied to exfoliate and condition. In addition to these decadent treatments, guests can reserve the Hammam for a private session and perform the ritual by themselves.
Experience a Hammam Ceremony, alongside an extensive range of restorative treatments, at the Spa at Ashford Castle.
Image Credits: All images courtesy of Red Carnation Hotels.