Mahlia Lone tries out Ava Salon & SPAâ€™s Turkish style Hammam rituals
There are many day spas in Lahore and more than enough salons, but there is only one Turkish style hammam for women. Recently, Ava Turkish Spa opened its doors for business and I was agog with curiosity to try out the treatments on offer.Â I went in for the traditional hammam experience. AvaÂ Â day spa is centrally located in Mini Market and easy to find. The minute I entered the aromatic fragrance and soothing music lulled my spirit made uneasy by the cityâ€™s insane traffic. A cup of flavourful Turkish tea further soothed my ruffled senses.
After undressing and putting on a wrap, I was led to a steam room big enough for two. Since the hammam is a communal experience in Turkey, here itâ€™s been made for two women to ideally share. I would recommend you go with another woman you are close enough to strip in front of and who you are comfortable enough to chat or remain silent with as the mood pleases you. Also, I recommend taking your own bikini as though a washed one is handed to you, the more fastidious ones, like me, would prefer to clothe your modesty in your own undergarments.
An attendant waiting patiently outside the steam room handed me a glass of water to cool me down with a drink and led me to the piece de resistance, the hammam itself.Â Itâ€™s a large immaculately clean room entirely covered with pristine white marble under a blue dome. Massive white marble lotus shaped basins with wall mounted silver taps lined the sides. The white marble glowing under blue light made it appear otherworldly. I lay down on one of the two massive marble slabs and my two masseuses, Merhma and Zeenat, expertly went to work on me. First, they sloughed off the dead cells with exfoliating mits, then used charcoal soap to wash me and finally a pillow cover filled with air to rub sudsy bubble bath all over my body, a divine, indescribable feeling. I felt like I was being kissed by angels.
My hair was gently shampooed also. Impressed with the quality of service, I asked my two attendants how long their training had lasted for. Three months, they replied, while carefully helping me up from the by now slippery marble slab.
By now, I was so squeaky clean. Next came the step to massage my skin with aromatherapy oil. I was kneaded and massaged till there was not a knot left in my muscles and my skin glowed silky with the oil.
Last came the Jacuzzi, big enough for two, filled with rose petals and a rich bubble bath to wash away the excess oil. This room too was lit dimly with candles to optimize relaxation. Aaah, bliss!
I highly recommend all women to make the hammam a part of their busy lives. Itâ€™s especially recommended to get ready for an anniversary, for brides the day before their wedding, or even as a monthly ritual. The whole process takes closer to two hours. If, during Ramzan, you donâ€™t want to sweat in the steam, I suggest trying one of their body wraps. The Cleopatra wrap sounds particularly enticing. More on that another day.
â€œAyesha and I took a trip to Turkey and Greece last September. When we were in Istanbul we visited a hammam there. After our services we both were talking about how there are so many spas in Lahore but none offer the hammam. Thatâ€™s when we decided to tap this market gap and open one in Lahore.â€ â€”Ana Ali