All but twelve minutes.
This is the amount of time which separates the wintry streets of Zürich's Old Town from the steamy Turkish Hammam at Münstergasse.
On a recent night, we escape the freezing rain to try out the hammam Zürich, a hidden treasure.
At the entrance, each of us is provided a cotton cloth. The "pestemal" might raise some questions for the initial visitor, but the idea is to wrap the cloth around your naked body - kind of like the Romans used to do. Ask for the practical user guide in English. It provides step-by-step instructions to those who have never visited a hammam spa in Zürich. In case you were wondering, there is a mixed section or a women's only hammam.
Hammam Zürich offers an authentic and soothing setting
Better than learning hammam etiquette on the spot is to study how it works beforehand. The tradition goes back to the Ottoman Empire when people would meet at a central spa. In modern times, most apartments in Turkey have their own bathroom. Yet visiting a hammam remains an important part of Turkish culture.
The hammam bathing ritual usually combines a bath with a massage. Here in Zürich, the traditional way is available on the spa menu as well. However, we are here to forget about the cold streets outside and soak in the heat.
With every round in the steam bath, rain forest shower or cleansing station, this adventure is becoming more compelling. We scrub each others’ backs and marvel at the fascinating architecture and decor. Is it really possible that we are inside a basement in Zürich’s old town?
There are Turkish wall murals and oriental lamps casting beautiful shadows. My favorite part about the hammam experience is resting on the enormous marble slab. The “gobektasi” is heated and provides a rejuvenating rest.
In the end, we are sipping on complimentary mint tea in the “camekan” (see below). Soaking in the pool and rubbing off that old skin sure is a soothing ritual! Does it come as a surprise that we are already scheming our next visit to the Zürich Fitnesspark Hammam? But the next time, we are going to try the traditional way including foam massage...
(All photographs copyright Fitnesspark Zürich)