Photo credit by Sigrid Malmgren
For centuries, Turkish women have headed to the hamam to soak, sweat and gossip for hours, so it’s no surprise that Berlin’s ‘Little Istanbul’, Kreuzberg, has its very own women’s bath, called, fittingly, ‘Hamam’. In 1988, the bath opened as a branch of the Schokofabrik women’s center, with which it still shares a building. It began as a bathhouse for local women without showers in their apartments and only later took the plunge into the hottest concept of the 2000s: wellness. Yet for the most part, the old traditions have been preserved; for €14 you get three-hour access to a round bathing room covered in detailed mosaic with nooks adorned with ornate sinks and basins for bathers to douse themselves. A heated plateau in the middle is traditionally for massage, but modern times call for that sort of thing to be moved behind closed doors, leaving the hot stone as a place to lie and warm up while gazing at the blues of the mosaic ceiling. Around the room are cold showers, a sauna and a salon, where bathers can lounge on soft cushions, read magazines and sip complementary Turkish tea. These days, in spa-culture fashion, Hamam offers a variety of beautifying services for an additional charge. Popular options are the Kese, a traditional Turkish bodypeel with scrub (€10) and the more gentle soap massage (€20). Also available are mani-pedis (€15 and €20, respectively) and Agda sugar hair removal (€6-28). Unfortunately the tradition of semi-naked manservant masseurs hasn’t made it to the menu.