Attention weary tourists, travelers and Palestinian workers alike; those in need of pampering, take note: there’s an inexpensive two-hour experience to be had in Ramallah that includes a massage, a full-body traditional loofah scrub, steam room, pool and hot stone relaxing at the Turkish Bath in the twin city of Al-Bireh.
The bath offers exclusively single-sex schedules and is priced by services: entrance includes using the steam room, hot stone room, pool and traditional turkish bath for 50NIS (about $12); add a and soap massage scrub to that and it’s 70NIS, and with a back massage it’s 80NIS (about $20) — the full package, including all of the above and a full body massage is 110NIS (about $35). The full package can be done in an hour and a half, but to really relax and enjoy the full spa experience, give yourself two hours onward.
The bath asks that you make reservations before you arrive, but two of us were graciously accommodated when (not knowing this), we showed up without.
Click below for the Turkish Bath’s schedule and more about the experience.
The Turkish Bath is located in Al-Bireh (the town adjacent to Ramallah), just to the east behind Al-Irsal Street and close to the Mall. It’s walking distance from the main service taxi line; get off at the Best Eastern and walk on the road parallel to Al-Irsal street south toward the Manara (city center) until you pass the mall plus about three more minutes of walking. Or take a private taxi from wherever you happen to be for 10-15NIS.
The women-only hours made for a great treat after work. At 5pm, we walked in to be greeted by a friendly Rana, who explained our pricing options and what we should do.
First you’ll change in the locker rooms — wear a swim suit or shorts or whatever you’re comfortable getting wet in, but remember you’ll want to leave a chance to be scrubbed and massaged — and rinse off again in the shower before heading into the steam room.
Here is the first step toward melting into relaxation. The steam is thick, hot and minty with eucalyptus, opening the pores and loosening muscles. Spend 10 to 15 minutes sweating and relaxing in here before rinsing off in the shower again and taking a dip in a pool of cold water. Just go for it — it’s good for circulation and feels pretty great. Plus, you’re rewarded by the next stop: hot stones in a beautiful multi-sided room. It has one huge stone platform in the middle, surrounded by others at the edges of the room. The stones are hot as if warmed for several days by the summer sun, heating up the body enough to cause the skin to redden. So pleasant and relaxing, it’s easy to fall asleep.
Those getting the full treatment will soon be summoned by Rana or another staff member to the adjacent section of the room. Here you’ll be asked to lie on a platform at waist-level while you’re oiled and scrubbed with a coarse natural loofah and olive oil soap. It’s a little rough, but you can say goodbye to dirt, dry spots and dead skin cells. They’ll dump some water on you and you’ll feel smooth and soft as a baby all over. Then head back to get warm on the stones again.
Any doubts about whether to get a massage should be erased by the price (think about it — in the US, the cheapest massage you’ll find will be what, $60? Here, the whole package is $35 and you spend as long as you like in the spa) and testimony to Rana’s skilled, strong hands. Guys, I hope your massages are the same in quality, because this was a memorable one.
Once your services are done, you’re free to go back and repeat as much of anything as you want — more steam room, dip, hot stones, and when you’re ready, go back for your loofah and soap and give yourself a traditional seated bath by pouring water over your soft and oily body.
The spa also offers a sitting area and sells light food, drinks and argileh (sheesha/water pipes) to smoke.
No matter what you do at the Turkish Bath, you’ll leave glowing and relaxed. Enjoy!
The Turkish Bath was opened in 2000 by a Nablusi businessman. It closed for a year and a half during the second intifada, and now operates every day except during the month of Ramadan.
For reservations and more info, call 02-240-8281
Monday: (Ladies) 9am-5pm / (Gentlemen) 5pm-12am
Tuesday: (Ladies) 9am-9pm / (Gentlemen) 9pm-12am
Wednesday: (Ladies) 9am-5pm / (Gentlemen) 5pm-12am
Thursday: (Gentlemen only): 10am-12am
Friday: (Gentlemen only) 1pm-12am
Saturday: (Ladies) 9am-5pm / (Gentlemen) 5pm-12am
Sunday: (Ladies) 9am-9pm / (Gentlemen) 9pm-12am