An experience straight from Turkey

If you would have told me that after a long hard day at work I'd be submerging myself in a pool of ice cold water, to 'relax', I would've told you %&#@$#!

But that's exactly what I did.

And I loved it.

Kempinski Grand & Ixir Hotel invited me to try out their Turkish Hammam in their Pure Spa. They recently opened this spa treatment facility with the Turkish Hammam, which is the biggest in Bahrain. I believe it's also the only one.

A Turkish Hammam is a variant of the Roman steam bath, the difference being that here more water is used instead of steam. Traditionally it's 45 minutes of cleansing- body scrubbing with a handwoven wash cloth known as a kese; a foam wash; and a massage. In ancient Turkey, the Hammam was a social centre where men and women gathered {at separate times}, as well as a bath. 

Kempinski wanted to replicate this Turkish experience authentically, which is why they built the biggest Hammam on the island. Up to 6 people can be accommodated at one time.

Before being taken to start the Hammam treatment, I was given a form to fill out {as most spas do}, asking if I had any medical conditions and to indicate what areas I wanted the massage to be focused on. I circled shoulders and hamstrings, as they're always sore from all my punching and kicking in combat. I had also had one helluva week so I was quite looking forward to this. {I wonder if you get as excited as me at the thought of getting a massage. In my head I was going, "Yaaaaay! Masssaaaage!"}

The Reception Area

As I entered the Spa area, I was greeted by a soothing scent of lemongrass. Now most spas have this, but the difference is that it wasn't overwhelming. Just light and inviting. I was shown in to the locker room where I changed into a disposable bikini {this was the first time I had even heard such a thing as 'disposable bikini'. Pretty cool!}. You can bring our own bikini if you like.

I managed to sneak in a quick pic with my phone in the locker room. My camera was rendered useless since everywhere was steamy. 

My therapist was Shivona, from Johannesburg. Friendly and smiling, she took me into the Wet Lounge first, below.

If you notice on the left, there are pools. These are 4 small pools, each containing water set to a different temperature. The temperatures are 30° C, 34° C, 38° C, and 12° C. So three warm water pools and one ice cold. To start the treatment I had to soak for a few minutes in any one of the warm water pools, to get my body warmed up and to soften my skin. But what was the cold water pool for? Keep reading, you'll see.

There are 3 warm water pools just so guests can choose what level of warmth they want. 34° C was fine for me. After soaking, Shivona escorted me to the main Turkish Hammam. And man, was it big.

It was nice and steamy, like a sauna, but not as cloying. The idea is to let the pores of your skin open, releasing dirt and toxins. The entire room is made of marble that is heated to a specific temperature. I was laid down on the heated stone marble bed. Shivona started by pouring warm water on me using two copper bowls. Then she started scrubbing my body all over with the mitt. The surprising thing is that no soap is used for this scrubbing. It's just your skin and the kese mitt. And trust me, a lot of dirt and dead skin came out during the scrubbing. After a thorough scrubbing, comes the foam wash and massage. A giant sponge is used to release foam all over the body. The foam wash is done to wash away all the dirt and dead skin that comes out during the scrubbing, leaving you squeaky clean. The foam was from a herbal soap that contained olive oil and smelled delicious. With the foam still on me, she gave me a massage, focusing more on my shoulders and hamstrings as I had requested. Ahhh... blisssss.... 
Once done, she poured lots more warm water using the copper bowls to rinse me off completely. After that she sat me down on the bench along the wall and shampooed my hair. 

I was then led out of the Hammam, back to the Wet Lounge.

The last step: I had to take 3 dips in the ice cold water pool. YIKES! {They inform you of this at the start of the treatment. I concealed it to keep the suspense.}

The reason for finishing off with a cold water dip is to close all your pores, rehydrate your skin, and energize you. Since the body is not used to being in such a warm environment and perspiring so much, sometimes you may feel dizzy and the cold water dip stops the dizziness. 

So, steeling myself, I went into the pool as Shivona watched with glee {I'm sure this is the best part of her job}. I put one foot into the water. YIKES! COLD! Another. OHMIGAWD! I stood in the pool now, submerged in freezing water until my hips. Now I had to go down completely into the frigid water. Taking a deep breath, I crouched down submerging the top of my head. And sprang back up with a OHMIGOODLORDTHATISFREAKKKINGCOLD! Shivona stood laughing. I had to do this two more times?! GAH!
But I did it. I climbed out of the pool shivering and Shivona quickly enveloped me in a robe. And that felt sooooo good. Surprisingly, I felt really, really good. My body had returned back to it's normal temperature. My muscles felt like warm toffee and my mind was clear and calm. 

I was taken to the Relaxation Area where I was seated on a very comfortable lounge chair. Shivona brought me a pot of ginger and honey tea and a glass of cold water. It's very important to rehydrate as much as possible after the bath as your body has lost a lot of water through sweating. I took my time just sitting there, enjoying the feeling, before I went back to the locker and changed.

The entire session lasted for 45 minutes. It looks seemingly simple, just a scrub, wash and massage that relaxes you, but it has a plethora of benefits for your skin, body and health:
  • Removes dead skin revealing softer, smoother skin underneath.
  • Improves blood circulation.
  • Relaxes strained, tight muscles.
  • Decongests the sinus.
  • Reduces acne, hyper-pigmentation and rosacea.
  • Leaves the skin glowing.
  • Releases lactic acid build up in the muscles.
This Hammam feels similar to a Moroccan bath, but it's different in the way that Moroccan baths use the black soap for scrubbing while this doesn't. I've been to a Moroccan bath before and within a week after it my skin had a reaction. There was no bad reaction after this treatment, just really good results. An immediate effect I noticed once I got back home from the Spa is my face looked smoother and clearer. And my hair! My hair was so shiny and soft I contemplated showering in ice cold water every day. It's been more than a week since the treatment and my skin still looks and feels amazing. Even the soles of my feet still feel very soft! 

The one I got done was a Traditional Hammam which costs BD 35. There are different packages for BD 40, BD 50 and the most expensive- BD 60, which lasts for a good 120 minutes and includes a special body mask. {One and a half hour of relaxing. Ooooooh. I think I know what to splurge on next month.}

What I loved about the entire experience is that Kempinski has truly replicated the Hammam as you'd find it in Turkey. They've actually imported the kese mitt, copper bowls and bath towels from turkey to ensure it's authentic. I'd recommend this Turkish Hammam experience over a Moroccan bath anyday, preferably once a month, if not once a week {if your wallet allows}. I also highly recommend it for men since their skin is tougher. 

The Pure Spa at Kempinski Grand & Ixir Hotel is open from 10 am to 10 pm everyday, to both men and women. You can book by calling 17 17 11 22 or email

Follow Kempinski Grand & Ixir Hotel:
Facebook: Click HERE.
Twitter: @KGIHBCC
Instagram: @kempinskibahrain
Shabana Feroze

1 comment:

Leave me a comment! I love reading what you've got to say!

[name=About Me] [img=] [description=I'm an entrepreneur, published author, fitness instructor and artist. But most of all, I'm me. And I LOVE being me. Through this blog, I want to inspire you to love being you, too. I enjoy dressing up, chasing my passions, travelling the world, staying fit and encouraging others to do the same. If you'd like to know more, click the Who I Am tab on the top of the site! Thank you for reading my blog!] (facebook= (instagram= (twitter= (bloglovin= (pinterest=