The ancient custom of heat treatments as a way to sweat out toxins exists in almost every culture: Russians have the banya, Koreans the jjimjilbang, Japanese the onsen, Native Americans the sweat lodge, and for Turks and Moroccans, the hammam. The last has grown in popularity at spas worldwide, with one of the newest debuting at the five-month-old Spa at Trump SoHo New York. Inspired by Ivanka Trump’s travels in Istanbul, the spa features men’s and women’s hammams with domed ceilings, mosaic-tiled walls and heated belly stones of Calacatta marble on which to lie. The design details certainly make them look the part, but we wanted to know whether the experience meets traditional standards. So, during his latest visit to Manhattan, we enlisted our Turkish expert, Antony Doucet of The House Hotel Nisantasi in Istanbul, to try the 45-minute Turkish Hammam ($100) and report back. Here’s what he e-mailed:
“My attendant clearly had experience. She used the proper scrubbing gloves (handmade kessa mitts) as well as the correct oil-based Castile soap. She made the bath foam in the Turkish tradition, and I liked the way she played with the water temperature, gently pouring the cold water at the right moment, when I was a bit too warm. In Turkey and Morocco, they splash you all over; people often find it too fast and brutish.
“The only thing that wasn’t correct is normally you would stay about ten minutes in the steam to soften your skin before the attendant begins scrubbing.” A 75-minute Moroccan Hamman treatment ($160), using authentic black soap made from olive oil and crushed olives, is also available; trumpsohohotel.com.
Of Note: According to our tester, Trump SoHo’s hammam experience is as good as the Four Seasons Bosphorus and The Ciragan Kempinski in Istanbul. But his best experience yet was at Mamounia in Marrakech.