Hammam – Stadtbad Zürich: A genius twist on Turkish bath

A genius twist on Turkish bath

Hammam at Stadtbad Zürich is dear to my heart. As a Turkish “Sauna Explorer,” I’m both proud and inspired by this modern interpretation of hammam, the traditional Turkish bath.

Hammam spreads out to a large area under the Volkshaus building near Helvetiaplatz, central Zurich. If you are ever wondering what to do on a rainy, dark Sunday in Zurich, which many people do, a visit to Hammam is my first answer. As you descend into this world, you’ll be completely cutting off all ties with the world outside. There are no windows, no access to open air, but the atmosphere down here really gives you the chance to isolate yourself from the daily life, and focus on your own body, your own well-being.

There is a recommended order of going through the hammam, spa and sauna experiences here. The helpful receptionists will hand you your peshtemals (very light, traditional Turkish bathing towels), bathrobe, kese (exfoliating mitt) and everything else you will need to enjoy this experience, as well as explaining you how it all works.

The highlight here for me is the massive navel stone. This hot monolith piece lies in the middle of the bathing area, and everything else revolves around it. You can lay on it before and after the steam room, relax your muscles and fall asleep watching the dreamy pieces of art hanging from the ceiling. This is where the stress and tension in your body will leave your body, and melt away into the smooth surface of the stone.

The sauna here is actually small but sufficient, and usually quite warm. The cold pool is also small, but really refreshing, so don’t skip it. After treating yourself to the steam baths and the sauna, you can get into the semi-private compartments to wash yourself in privacy. You can scrub yourself with the exfoliating mitt (kese), and wash clean with the olive oil soap. Finally, finish off with a DIY mud clay body mask, provided in your welcome basket.

Result: baby-like, pure and smooth skin. A rejuvenated you. A successful Sunday!

Good to know

  • No swimwear allowed. However, you will cover your body with peshtemal most of the time. Sauna section and bathing compartments are public, but nicely separated with dividers, so you get a decent sense of privacy even if you are not very comfortable with nudity.
  • Best enjoyed alone, or as a couple. Keeping the silence is really important here, so leave heated discussions outside.  
  • Light food and drink options available in the resting room.
  • No sauna infusions.
  • Walk-ins welcome.
  • Price: $$$$

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