How to rejuvenate at the Middle East's largest hammam
1 june 2015

Palatial and peaceful, the Talise Ottoman Spa brings the ancient traditions of rejuvenation to the Middle East. We explore the luxurious settings of Jumeirah Zabeel Saray in Dubai

I’ve had my brush (quite literally) with Turkish baths across the globe, from the grand Gellért Thermal Baths in Budapest and magnificent Les Bains de Marrakech in Morrocco, to the very authentic Süleymaniye Hamami, in Istanbul. So where better to experience my first Middle Eastern Turkish Bath, than at the Middle East’s largest hammam? At a vast 8,000 square metres, this lavish Ottoman-inspired sanctuary houses 42 treatment rooms, saunas, steam room, floating baths and a salt water lap pool.

As I navigate my way through a maze of corridoors to the Central Hammam, I am transported to a bygone era of opulent Turkish Palaces, with murals and mosaics adorning the walls and grand halo chandeliers hanging from the high dome ceilings. The décor sets the scene for my three and a half hour Blissful Beginnings treatment, which encompasses a Turkish hammam, followed by a stress relief massage and a facial.

After a leisurely steam, my muscles are sufficiently loosened for phase one of pampering - the traditional Turkish Hammam. My softly spoken therapist, Wafa, guides me to a huge, centralised, heated marble slab or ‘goebekta’, which sits beneath an intricately-decorated atrium. Traditionally, hammams were utilised as public steam baths, but thankfully, this one accommodates a maximum of four. As I lie down, Wafa, begins to rhythmically pour jug after jug of lukewarm water over my body, before vigorously scrubbing every limb with a traditional kese mitt, to aid the removal of dead skin.My body is then engulfed in a cloud of suds made from handmade olive oil soap, a technique that is very hydrating for the skin. In a deeply relaxed state, I am led to a stone alcove where I surrender to a therapeutic hair wash. Cocooned in a fluffy, oversized bathrobe, I recline to a cosy and opulently decorated alcove for some soothing Ayran drink and dates, before my massage.

Executed in a beautifully fragrant treatment room on the first floor, the massage is ideal for relaxing and invigorating the body after a long-haul flight, or a long day in front of the computer. Concentrating on my back, shoulders, neck and scalp, the combination of kneading and longer strokes helps to stimulate energy flow and circulation. With each stroke I feel the tension and stress melt away, and feel altogether lighter as the treatment draws to an end. I’m so relaxed that my therapist has to wake me from a slumber-like state for the final stage of pampering – the Radiant Date Facial.

After a brief analysis of my skin type and an explanation about the hydrating properties of dates, which have been used to hydrate skin for thousands of years, she begins with a light exfoliation and steaming before a creamy concoction of date extract and hyaluronic acid is applied to my face. When it is removed, my skin is slathered with a healing balm, leaving my skin feeling refreshed and radiant. And with the triptych of royal treatments done, I reluctantly leave my palatial surroundings for the real world, with a new sense of vitality, shiny new skin and an eternal respect for dates.