If you’re going to visit a historical site, it makes good sense to enjoy the whole experience as people in the past did, so I recommend the Cagaloglu Haman in Istanbul. It’s one of the oldest Turkish baths in the world and has been visited by figures as diverse and illustrious as Florence Nightingale, King Edward VIII and Tony Curtis. This place was a gift to the city from Sultan Mahmud 1 in 1741and it retains the original features, such as beautiful high-domed ceilings and marble fountains as well as an interior garden. The bathing experience is still just as it was in the Ottoman days - you are given a brisk body exfoliation followed by a bubble massage as you lie on a smooth marble plinth. I skidded around like a beached seal as the masseur slapped and pummelled me before washing my hair with a deliciously herbal scented soap. Afterwards, wrapped in white fluffy towels and sipping tea, I could almost imagine myself back in the days of the Sultan.
Alemdar Mh. Cağaloğlu Hamamı Sk No:34, Fatih, Turkey
+90 212 522 2424
Google map: bit.ly/15fTNQg
It's actually harder than it would seem to get a Turkish shave in Istanbul. We asked a waiter who recommended us via letter to his mate who runs a very busy hair salon, under the Galata Bridge.
There is a central internal corridor under the bridge, which all of the outward facing restaurants and bars have entrances on to, on the Eminonou side. It's bright green and the staff all wear green and has no other signage. It's extremely cheap too and you get a great pampering shave for about £1!
Galata Bridge, Eminonu side,
Istanbul is choc full of exciting things to see but there is one spot that could easily be missed.
It’s the Yerebatan Saray Sarnici, one of the many cisterns the Byzantines built to make sure they had a plentiful supply of water. It's a vast underground space full of elaborate columns and arches, which are reflected in rippling water. Everything is bathed in coloured light and there is soft soothing music.
It's an eerily fascinating atmosphere. You climb the steps and you are suddenly in the bustling streets around the Topkapi Palace.
It’s a great place to go if the streets above are hot! Cool and peaceful.
Sultanahmet Square at the northeastern end of the Hippodrome, just off Divan Yolu
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org