Hôtel Les Ottomans, Istanbul
STRANGELY ENOUGH, DOING WHAT I DO, I’VE NEVER SPENT A FULL DAY IN A DAY SPA. SURE I’VE INDULGED IN A COUPLE OF TREATMENTS FOR A GOOD 3 HOUR PAMPERING SESSION, BUT NEVER A FULL DAY, FROM MORNING TO LATE AFTERNOON. IT’S ALWAYS BEEN SOMETHING I’VE DREAMT ABOUT AND SAID THAT I’LL DO “ONE DAY”. WELL … THAT “ONE DAY” SHOWED UP AS A SURPRISE BIRTHDAY GIFT FROM MY LOVELY LOVELY BOYFRIEND, AND WOW! IT WAS SOMETHING TRULY SPECIAL! I LOVE A GIFT THAT CAN BE SHARED AND ENJOYED TOGETHER. SO WE PACK OUR BAGS AND HEAD FOR THE VINOTHERAPIE SPA BY CAUDALIE AT HÔTEL LES OTTOMANS, ISTANBUL.
WORDS BY SAMANTHA SAMPLE, BE NATURALLYOU
Located on the magnificent Bosphorous, the “Muhsinzade Mehmet Pasha Mansion”, one of the most prestigious mansions of its time, has been brought back to life, by the Aysal family, as “Hôtel Les Ottomans”. Remaining faithful to its original design on the outside, it was restructured inside, as a journey from its origins in the past, to a mixture of love and lavish beauty. Upon taking our first steps through the entrance it’s instantly understandable why Hôtel Les Ottomans is considered one of the most luxurious and exclusive hotels in Turkey.
Our treatments don’t begin until 10am but we arrive nice and early so that we can start our day with a meditation, having seen on their website that there is a purpose built meditation room. The lovely Julide escorts us to the boys and girls change rooms and after a quick shower I prepare for my day of spa bliss, making my way to the chill out area in my teeny tiny little spa undies, dressing gown and massage slippers – you know the ones with the soft cushion-like spikes that massage your feet as you walk.
Entering the cozy igloo-shaped meditation room with 4 little mini bubbles to sit in built in to the walls I feel like I’m entering a cocoon of peace of tranquility. I choose my little bubble, focus my attention on the dripping water in the centre of the room for a minute or two and then close my eyes for about 20 minutes. What a fabulous way to begin a spa session! I must remember to begin each spa treatment with a mini meditation.
Our first treatment is a 30 minute Dead Sea Water Floating Pool Session. We’re escorted to another igloo shaped room but this time with a circular water pool in the centre that looks like it’s filed with mud. We slip our dressing gowns off and step in to the pool, assisted with the utmost care by our therapists. I lay on my back and “boing” I’m floating! What a beautiful feeling. Having never been to the actual Dead Sea before, this experience is all very new and novel to me. I love it! The treatment begins with a 10 minute scalp massage and then we’re left to enjoy a half hour on our own, laying in a meditative state of bliss, floating in the pool. The composition of the Dead Sea water is extremely unique, as it contains calcium, magnesium, potassium and other minerals that are very beneficial for the skin, soothing and healing the skin and bones. To take full advantage of the curative properties of this salty water, it is recommended that we do not shower with soap for at least 30 minutes afterwards. So when our session comes to an end we have a quick dry off and get back in to our dressing gowns for a 20 minute relaxation in the chill out room.
Next up is a Cranial Massage. Another first for me. We’re escorted to the Private Spa Suite. Yikes! It’s like I’ve jumped inside Jeanie’s bottle … the kind of room that I would love for my own bedroom/ bathroom/ massage/ meditation room at home. Well, we can all dream can’t we?! After a seriously fabulous 20 minute Cranial Massage and 40 minute Plantar Reflexology I’ve left planet Earth all together, and have landed on a little private cloud called dream land. All I keep thinking about is that I still have another 2 treatments to go … what a joy!!!
We’re escorted back to the chill out room and have a little time before our next treatment so after a fresh pomegranate juice we decide to go exploring the spa to use the facilities on offer for spa guests. Being big lovers of crystals, the Salt Inhalation Laconium (i.e. dry heat sauna) with amethyst takes our particular interest so after a quick shower we step in for a 15 minute session. The one thing I immediately notice is how soft my skin is. That Dead Sea Water Pool has certainly worked its magic.
Back to the chill out room for another rest on the day beds, we turn to each other and make an oath to one another that we will set aside the time to do this “full day in a day spa” thing once a quarter.
Next up is the Hamman Treatment – a traditional Turkish cleansing ritual to thoroughly purify the skin and restore vitality all whilst being pampered beneath the sparkling dome of the luxurious Hamman. I lay down on a slab of marble and every little square inch of my body is scrubbed with salt. This is followed by big bowls of warm water splashed all over and then I’m gently brought to my feet to sit down to have my hair washed. I can’t help but feel a little over indulgent. It is definitely a luxurious experience and something I’d highly recommend if you’re ever in this neck of the woods. Feeling squeaky clean and back in my dressing gown and slippers, we’re guided to the massage rooms, for a Traditional Balinese Massage.
Just when I was thinking that I couldn’t possibly be any more relaxed, I am yet again taken further in to that little cloud of relaxation heaven called dream land. I live for massages, personally thinking that they are a necessity, as opposed to a rare luxury, so I’m really quite fussy with how I like my massages to be. I’m not interested in a fluffy soft pat on my back with a little oil. I can do that myself at home. Made, my masseuse, is fabulous – just the right amount of pressure, and I once again drift away. What a day! But it’s not yet finished. Vinotherapie Spa by Caudalie at Hotel Les Ottomans has thought of it all. After all my treatments, whilst my skin is glowing and I’m floating on clouds with a big smile on my face, my hair is still a little wet, and since we’re heading out for dinner this evening, I would really like to look a little glamorous. And naturally, like in all dream lands, there is a lovely lady waiting to blow dry my hair, in the dressing room.
I walk out with a combination of deep relaxation, yet a renewed sense of vitality. Like a new woman!
I can’t recommend a “full day in a day spa” highly enough. It’s what we all deserve but all too often deny it to ourselves for feelings of guilt and overindulgence creep in to our minds. Promise me just this … try it just once, and then it’s up to you as to whether you choose to gift it to yourself on a regular basis, once a quarter, once a year or not.
Where we stayed: The Witt Istanbul – it’s no wonder The Witt is an award winning boutique hotel … words just can’t describe the wow factor of our room with a 270 degree view of Istanbul and the sound of the call to prayer each night from our balcony. Ultra cool. Fab design. Impeccable service. We’ll be back for sure!
Where we ate: Balya organik health food store – the yummiest smoothies, salads, soups and vegan options! Definitely worth the visit.