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Great Turkish Bath Mystery

When we visit London we stay in Bloomsbury and have done so for decades. In that neighbourhood, at the corner of Guilford Street and Southampton Row, there is a brass sign embedded in the pavement pointing to the Turkish Baths.

Image of floor sign

We knew that the sign was old because of the style and the fact that we had never seen another one like it. But where were those mysterious Turkish Baths?

Over the years we have searched - admittedly superficially - for the Baths, and never found a hint about where they were. But our quest was solved at a recent Ephemera Society fair when we came across a tiny and very inexpensive booklet promoting the Imperial Hotel chain.

Image of booklet cover

From the room rates we concluded that it certainly dated to pre-World War II. That probability was underscored by the images of the hotels. The Imperial Hotel of today is much more modern than the one pictured.

A page promoting the Premier Hotel ("next to Imperial Hotel") and describing this "Grand old house…next door to the Imperial Turkish Baths" shows a property much different from the newer President Hotel of today, which occupies that position. It appears that bombing from the Second War may have led to a post-war rebuilding program!

Image of booklet cover

According to the booklet, the Turkish Baths provided "Magnificent Baths for Ladies and Gentlemen" including "Russian Vapour Baths, Electric Light Baths, Medicated Baths, Alpine Sun Baths, and the well-known Hydro Electric Therapeutic Treatments". What an array of options!

Q So if the Turkish Baths are gone, what's there now?

John G Sayers