SPA SECRETS: A History of the Hamam—Spreader of Warmth ... and Spirits

Jun 29 2012

“The Turkish Bath” by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, 1862

Around the world the practice of travelling to baths in hopes of curing physical and spiritual ailments dates back to pre-historic times. Forms of ritual purification existed among the Native Americans, Persians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, Japanese, Russians and Scandinavians. Spiritual bathing, ritual purification through water can be found in the most religions. These ceremonies reflect the ancient belief in the healing and purifying properties of water.

Few traditions span millenia and still retain their popularity. Hamams (which translates to, “spreader of warmth”) and the healing bathing ritual began centuries ago in the Mediterranean. Modern takes on these historic baths can now be found across the world, but, not to brag, you’d be hard to put to find another Hamam quite like The Standard Spa’s anywhere else on the East Coast.

Hamams used to be attended exclusively by young boys from the provinces.

The moment one enters the hamam the relaxation begins. It’s as therapeutic as it is communal. Lounging on the belly stone marble of the hamam, the heat soothes the muscles and worries melt away, the Hot Sauna increases circulation while the Steam Room serves to draw out toxins and soothes the skin. Once you’ve let the steam warm you up you can begin a hydrotherapy cycle of cold showers in the Sound Shower or submerging yourself in one of four full length tubs, indulging in an herbal bath or a self-scrub in the Scrub Room.

Hamam at The Standard Spa, Miami Beach. The heated marble steps spread warmth and literally raise your spirits.

Traditionally, the masseurs in the baths, tellak in Turkish, teenaged boys who helped wash clients by soaping and scrubbing their bodies. The Standard employs actual adults, better in fact, trained spa technicians who offer up amazing treatments like the signature “Hamam Rub + Scrub.” If you have never tried one, well, how to describe. You lay down on a warm marble step ensconced in towels and then you are covered, layer upon layer of warm water, oils, and exfoliate creams. The very substance of water transcends to something else entirely, something, well … you just have to try it.

For these and many many other services and treatments, click here to view The Standard’s Spa Menu.