If you’re in search of total down time in Cyprus, you’re in luck. There’s no better way than letting your skin breathe and switching your mind into zen mode at the renowned Hamam Omerye centre. Here’s what to expect while visiting this relaxing spot.
What is Hamam Omerye?
Some people loosely refer to it as a beauty and spa centre, but it’s more than that. Hamam Omerye is an easygoing, relaxing spot where you can enjoy a traditional scrub and bath that will leave you feeling and looking younger. It’s a place where traditional Turkish baths are infused with modern treatments and massages from head to toe, and is set in one of the island’s most unique spots for those also wanting to take in ancient culture.
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Located in the heart of Nicosia’s old city, Hamam Omerye is an impressive dome and beautiful stone architecture from the 14th century. Initially, the site was a church (Augustine Church of the Virgin Mary) during French rule. Under Ottoman rule, however, it was soon transformed into a Muslim shrine by Lala Mustafa Pasha in the belief that this particular ground was a resting spot for the prophet Omer on arriving in Nicosia. As such, the name Omerye came to refer to this area.
The main door is what remains of the Lusignan era. Once you go through it, you shut out the past – inside, the space has undergone several restorations, and today, Hamam Omerye is a small paradise where you can escape to for some much-needed tranquility amid the buzz of modern life.
What to expect
Guided by their respect for tradition, at Hamam Omerye you will be taken back to a mystical journey into centuries past, starting with the architectural designs which greet you as you enter the building. You will be welcomed with a cup of ginger tea, as you wait for your session which will introduce you to the best traditional bath in Cyprus.
Don’t be alarmed when you see the curtains running halfway through to what should be your private cubicle. Operating as a traditional public Turkish bath, this is close to what you would have experienced in the years back – without the curtains. Instead of worrying, jump on the bandwagon, and enjoy a traditional Turkish hamam – if you would rather have a private session though, you can make your request known during the booking.
Expect to be pampered, scrubbed, and massaged. If you feel more comfortable clothed, you can bring a swimsuit for your comfort. Otherwise, expect everything from disposable inner-wear to towels, a robe and slippers.
What you should know
Hamam Omerye is very traditional, even though it operates in a modern city. Limited changes have been made to the traditional building, and the same case applies to the Turkish baths. Keep an open mind.
The private cubicles operate without doors, part of the ‘best’ kept traditions at the centre. The establishment serves a mixed clientele, and is open to all except on Thursdays, when it is reserved for women.
In the spirit of Turkish public baths, expect to see clients walking around in various states of undress, though modest clients can bring their own swimsuits. There are separate female and male masseurs, and you are allowed to ask for either to suit your preference.
To make the most of your time, keep away from alcohol before the hamam, and avoid large amounts of food, as you’ll be lying on your stomach for the best part of the session.
Though the pricing is a little more than what you’d pay for a normal modern spa, the experience is worth it for an authentic traditional Turkish bath.
First, bear in mind that the hamam is a traditional public bath. This means you will meet and see many people half-dressed. Do not stare at them. It is not only rude but also embarrassing. Unless these people are your friends or loved ones, keep minimal eye contact.
The attendant will allow you fifteen minutes to change into the bathrobe or pants without invading your privacy. Women are advised to remove makeup before the start of the session.
Tips are appreciated and encouraged at this point.
While you look forward to a whole body bath, you should be informed that you are expected to wash your nether regions.
If you have any health issues, ensure you inform the management prior to your appointment.
Last but not least, you need to select and pay for the service of your choice.
Hamam Omerye provides self-service and traditional style options. You can opt for the former, but you will be required to bring your own products. Additionally, you will be required to bathe yourself, which isn’t quite so much fun. Go for the traditional style option, which gives you the real Turkish bath experience. After settling into your private cubicle, an attendant will wash and massage you. And you don’t have to bring any of the above items – unless you want a little privacy, in which case you can bring your swimsuit.
There are different pampering options available – you can go for a facial treatment for that renewing feeling, try a head massage for a calming effect, or enjoy a pressure joint massage to reduce pain and anxiety. Alternatively, you can opt for a full body scrub and massage.
For that relaxing feeling, you need to include special treatments. They are in plenty at the centre. One of the popular ones is the Kesse Borek, a traditional kind of foam used to scrub and massage. It is believed to promote health and wellness. On the other hand, if you would rather flex your muscles, go for the newly launched Okram Yoga – a session lasts approximately one and a half hours. While you will be provided with a glass of water, it’s a good idea to carry bottled water to keep hydrated throughout the visit.
After the session, you get a cup of ginger tea, which comes with slices of cake. Better still, you can enjoy a glass of wine in the scenic courtyard garden.
Hamam Omerye has become so popular among locals and visitors that it was voted the best traditional bath spa in Nicosia by Lux – Hotel & Spa Awards in 2016. In appreciation of its ancient architecture, it received the Europa Nostra Award for Architectural Heritage Conservation.
The benefits of visiting a hamam are vast, but according to the management here, their main goal is to “rehabilitate the lost balance among the soul, body, and the mind because of the stressful modern way of living”.
Hamam baths involve scrubbing and massages, which are key contributors to relaxation of both body and mind. From the steaming effects of the baths, the skin pores open allowing you to sweat, cleansing your body from the inside out. Additionally, the alternating water temperatures activate blood circulation to all body organs.
The benefits of the scrub and massage on the skin are many. One major benefit is the fact that it helps remove dead skin, and regulate skin oil secretion, leaving your skin looking and feeling younger. It helps prevent acne and heals scars, especially because of the use of traditional oils that are known to repair and reduce blemishes.
In addition to contributing to the relaxation of both body and mind, a visit to a hamam helps to reduce stress and anxiety, which are the highest causes of sleep disorders. If you are having muscle cramps after a day’s activities, there’s no better way to soothe the pain than engaging in a hamam bath. What’s more, you’ll learn how to listen to your body, an important skill that can help you to address major physical and mental health issues.
Monday-Tuesday: exclusive appointment only
Wednesday, Friday-Sunday: 10am-9.30pm (men/women)
Thursday: 10am-9.30pm (women)
Hamam Omerye, 8 Tyllirias Square, Nicosia, Cyprus, +357 22 460006
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