Hammam Spa Marrakech
My friend and travel companion Diane recently visited Morocco with TravelEyes and shares her experience of visiting a Hammam.
A Hammam also known as a Turkish bath “is a type of public bathing associated with the culture of the Ottoman Empire and more widely the Islamic world. A variation on it as a method of cleansing and relaxation became popular during the Victorian era, and then spread through the British Empire and Western Europe. The buildings are similar to the thermae (Roman baths). Unlike Russian banya, the focus is on water, as distinct from ambient steam” (Source : Wikipedia)
Diane tells us about her first visit to a Hammam. Unfortunately, she had temporary misplaced her camera so didn’t get any pictures of inside the Hammam.
During my trip to Morocco, one of the things I was really looking forward to was experiencing a Hammam which is a cleansing and relaxing ritual.
Rather than using the Spa within the hotel we chose to go to a local venue to have the authentic experience. We were taken to the Amouna Spa which is a public spa used by the locals. It was located down a narrow alley in the middle of downtown Marrakech and there was not a tourist in sight.
16 members of our group decided to visit the spa so it was a little crowded and there was a lot of waiting around as they could only deal with 5 max at a time as they only had 5 massage beds.
On arrival we were escorted though to a waiting room where we were provided with mint tea. It was not nice (Yuck!!!)
There were 3 visually impaired males who needed guiding so myself and the Travel Eyes guide were the only one’s game enough to share the Hammam with the men so we were allowed to wear a swimsuit whilst the other ladies were provided with a small disposable spa thong instead.
The Hammam ritual takes place in a hot steam room which is called a Harare. The room was fully tiled with two marble slabs at one end of the room and a marble seating at the other. Two female attendants provided the Hammam. Myself and the other sighted female guide were first to receive the treatment whilst the men sat at the other end of the room on the marble seating area.
The ritual consists of being fully doused in hot water by the attendants (called a Tellak) using a cup filled from a fountain.
Once cleansed I then laid out on one of the slabs before being doused and splashed with hot water again. I was then soaped up back and front before being rinsed in more hot water.
Next came the scrub. Using a special black soap and a special mitten called a Kessa the attendant scrubbed my body. She wasn’t gentle but it felt good and I am sure that if I had found it too much I could have asked her to be a bit gentler. I am not ticklish but the others let out bouts of laughter when it was their turn for the attendant to scrub between their toes!!!
Knowing that I was going to share the experience with the 3 visually impaired males I wore a tankini so that it could be arranged for the process to take place yet spare embarrassment and keep my modesty in front of the men. The non-English speaking attendant however had other ideas. The tankini top was pulled up and then down whilst I was laid out on the slab, after all it is a full body scrub! In the end not a lot was covered.
Therefore, it was a good job that the 3 males in the Harare with me had little or no vision, and any that they might have had was obscured by the steam.
Once dosed again to swill of all the black soap I was sat down on a stool and I received a head massage whilst my hair was washed. After a final dousing with hot water I was fully scrubbed, swilled and refreshed and had time to sit and enjoy the steam whilst the 3 males were receiving their treatment.
The final part of the Hammam is a 30-minute massage. The massage was pleasant but not one of the best I have had, but the main reason was to experience the Hammam which I thoroughly enjoyed despite being concerned about possible exposure. I wouldn’t want to put anyone off experiencing the Hammam ritual. You have to remember that this was a typical Moroccan Hammam Spa used by locals and the odd tourist, rather than a Hotel or Tourist Spa offering a more private and luxurious experience.
Have you visited a Hammam in Marrakech? what did you think? I went to one and I felt strange bearing all but I did however I had to leave as it was too hot and it made me feel sick so I just had the massage instead which was amazing. You can read about my personal experience in a Marrakesh Hammam here.
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