Tag Archives: whatisahammamlike

My Hammam Experience

23 Jul

I don’t really have a travel philosophy, but if I had to, I’d say I’m pretty much a “When in Rome” type of traveler. I don’t want to eat or do anything that I can back home, I want an authentic, local experience.

When I knew I was going to be in Marrakech for almost a week, I began researching local Hammams. The prices varied, but were still cheap by American standards. Much to my surprise, the riad I stayed at had a hammam and spa onsite with comparable prices to those I had researched.

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The Welcome sign just outside the riad

From what I had Googled, I could see that everyone’s experience was a little different. And that was to be expected. You were getting a glimpse of this experience from the writer’s perspective, not knowing them and their comfort level. That said, I will let you know right now that I went into the hammam with my guard completely down. I was ready for whatever. I knew I would never see this person again. I tried to look at it from a medical stand point too. Just like when you go to your physician, they see so many bodies daily they’re probably not worried/looking at yours and they are a professional. Anyway, here is my experience. YMMV.

My riad’s spa was hidden away like most places weaving in and out of the Medina. It was small, but cozy. A very sweet younger lady led me into a small room with a jetted tub and asked to remove all of my clothing. “All?” I asked. “Everything?” I reiterated. She nodded. “Even….?” I pointed to my underwear, “Yes,” she smiled.

I just wanted to be clear. She didn’t speak much English, just French and Arabic. Okay, I thought. END OF AWKWARDNESS. I stripped down, hung up my clothes and stood there and waited for her to return. When she got back to my area she led me to the sauna. It was more of a wet sauna. She instructed me to sit on the bench and wait for about 5 minutes. I assumed the heat was opening up my pores. After what seemed more like 10 minutes she returned with some items which were my soaps and some exfoliating gloves. She poured fresh, warm (not scalding hot like I have read in some instances) water all over my body and hair and began to soap me up. I assume this was the “black soap” I had read about that is traditionally used. It was not black in color, however. I was given a throughout soaping and then rinsed clean.

I sat the entire time and did not feel, for lack of a better word, “violated” at all. I was basically being washed by another person. In all my thoughts that were running through my head, one was: “I wonder if this is what happened back in Jesus’ time.” Well, I know they washed his feet, I don’t know about anything else. And don’t laugh because you weren’t there.

Next was probably my favorite part. She put on the exfoliation gloves and some more soap and exfoliated my entire body. You should of seen the dead skin that came off on the gloves! (I bought a pair from Amazon when I got back home).

Next was possibly my second favorite part (because I enjoy this when I get my hair cut). She washed my hair. I don’t know what she used, but it was just nice.

I put on a robe and then I was led to the massage room. Yes, I had booked the combination hammam/massage. I went in the massage room and immediately got comfy. There was no traditional spa music, but the sweet, sweet sound of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” was coming through the speaker. I didn’t mind at all. It was nice for a change. I zoned out. This was pure bliss. I was in my happy place.

When everything was over I was given all the time I needed to put myself back together (dress, blowdry hair, put on makeup, etc.) before exiting the spa. I honestly felt like a new woman. My skin was soft, my muscles were relaxed. It was the perfect ending to my time in Marrakech.

I hope this helps you decide to try out the hammam expereince! Trust me, you get over the “naked and afraid” part pretty quick. The spa staff are professionals and they do this every day.

I did not take any pictures of the interior of the spa, as I was being respectful. I stayed at the Riad Palais des Princesses in the heart of the Medina. The rooms were some of the loveliest I’ve ever seen and I will post about them soon!

Questions? Ask away!

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I needed help from a local to find this place!