ESPA Istanbul
Monday 17 Jun 2013


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The only brief received by The Gallery HBA London for the ESPA Istanbul was to create a contemporary spa in harmony with the ethos of the EDITION brand's debut hotel. The result is a modern, moody and masculine take on time-honoured Turkish hammams. Inspiration for the designers' concept came from the layered shadows cast by light filtering though the star-shaped cut-outs of traditional hammam domes. Although sprung from ancient roots, this idea was made fresh by playing with scale, texture and materials.

Extending over three floors, the 1860 sq m spa includes both social and private spaces. The upper level needed to feel as spacious and private as possible; it contains separate male and female hammams as well as thermal, sauna, steam, ice fountain and relaxation rooms plus ten individual treatment spaces. The middle floor has been designed for "social / active" services; the fitness centre, swimming and vitality pools, a co-ed thermal suite, steam room, sauna, snow cabin, experience shower, a family changing room and the spa café are all located there. At the bottom level are the entrance, retail, changing rooms and "quick access" areas such as the specialist nail salon. The VIP suite is also reached from this floor so that these guests have a more discreet journey.

The journey through the spa is one of comfort, glamour and seductive charm, encompassing spaces with an air of mystery in which to relax and rejuvenate. Interior walls run at interesting angles, creating intimate nooks with nuanced shadows and shafts of light reminiscent of hammam domes' faceted cut-outs. Married with a rich palette of materials, the concept creates luxurious and alluring spaces in which guests feel both indulged and protected. Angular surfaces and contrasts between light and dark are expressed through materials such as bronze clad walls, finely textured horsehair wallcovering and, wrapping over the pool, backlit undulating panels with honey-toned ripples. A bronze curtain linking 529 faceted glass crystals scatters light around the reception area.

Rather than using the grey and white marble conventionally used in hammam construction, very dark stones were installed - Baltic Brown granite on the floors and Imperial Brown marble for the central plinth and benches. Accent walls in the VIP Suite are lined with rare smoky dark quartz. The result is a spa that truly reflects the spirit of Istanbul as a city steeped in ancient rituals yet also a vital force in contemporary culture.