Hammams are an integral part of Moroccan culture. It’s a place where people go not just to cleanse their bodies but also to relax their minds. A hammam experience usually consists of a hot room, a good slather with a traditional black colored soap called savon noir and then a good scrub with a kessa glove. This post covers the types of hammams and what to expect at a Moroccan Hammam.
Types of Hammams
There are both public and private hammams. The ritual is essentially the same in both. The difference is who you share the experience with and of course the cost! A public hammam experience is a lot cheaper, however, you will have to be naked around other people your gender (bikini bottoms or disposable ones are allowed). This is the most authentic hammam experience dating back centuries.
A private hammam is a more spa like experience. Most of these private hammams have other additions to the traditional hammam experience like massages, manicures, pedicures and facials.
What to Expect at a Moroccan Hammam
This was my experience visiting Heritage Spa in Marrakesh. The biggest tip I can give you regarding a private Moroccan hammam is to book one ahead of time. I made the mistake of not doing this but luckily Heritage Spa had an opening later that evening and took me in! I booked a massage coupled with a hammam experience.
Most people do the hammam part first and then the massage but since mine was a last minute booking I had to reverse it. Honestly, I think I preferred it reversed. I don’t like feeling greasy so doing the massage first followed by the bath worked well for me! The thought behind doing the massage later however is for the oils to heal the skin after all the scrubbing.
Experience at Heritage Spa
As I first walked in, I was checked in and ushered into a nice waiting room. Here, I was asked to choose which oil I would like for the massage from a few bottles of various types of oils. Then I was taken to a locker room where I was given a locker to put my stuff and was asked to wear a bath robe and slippers that were available inside the locker room. I was also given disposable underwear.
From there, I got a relaxing full body massage using the oil I had selected from before. After the message I was taken to a nice relaxing room. This room was dimly it to set the mood and had lots of Moroccan elements to it. The chairs are all legless and close to the ground.
After a few minutes, I was taken to the hammam room. Since this was a private experience, only I was in the room. It had a ledge with a mat to lie on and was already hot. After de-robing (disposable undies can stay), the attendant (If I recall correctly her name was Ameena) asked me to lay on the mat for a few minutes. It got real hot in there but nothing unbearable. The ledge itself was hot and hot water dripped from the ceiling.
After sometime, the attendant came back and slathered on the transitional black soap and left me for a few more minutes. She then came back and started scrubbing me with a kessa glove, which is a textured glove. Umm…..I was so embarrassed by all the gunk and dead skin that came out of my skin but my skin had never felt that clean and soft before. It was amazing! After all the scrubbing, I was washed off and was covered with a hydrating mask. Followed again by a good soap wash.
After the Hammam
After all this, I wore my robe and went back to the dimly lit relaxing room. Here I was offered tea, mint water and Moroccan sweets. It was such a nice way to end the treatment. The reason you have to wait for a bit before you can go out is so that your body can adjust to the outside temperature again after being inside the hot hammam.
After a few minutes, I got dressed and went my way. I was given a free soap and the kessa glove that the attendant used on me to take home. I still have it and it’s incredible!
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