23 July 2019
A Guide to Your First Hammam Experience in Marrakech
Your first hammam experience will likely be one to remember. The use of these traditional baths can heal and rejuvenate your body and mind thanks to the hands of skillful practitioners and the products they use.
With that said, using a Hammam might be a bit nerve-wracking at first because it is unlike the traditional spa experience that so many people are used to. Additionally, the Hammam is a sacred place for Moroccans, and it’s vital for tourists to respect it.
We will take a look at some tips to prepare yourself for your first Hammam experience and identify some hammam taboos and “house rules”.
A Look at What a Spa Day Feels Like in the Hammam
Hammams are traditional public bathhouses people visit to be washed, scrubbed and cleansed for the purpose of rejuvenation and relaxation. They date back to the days of the Roman Empire and are originally of Turkish origin. Many Hammams have been modernized to offer a spa-like setting along with various procedures that provide numerous health benefits.
For example, our Farnatchi Spa offers the following hammam procedures, each bringing their own benefits.
- Simple Hammam – A 40-minute traditional scrub with an exfoliating glove and black soap, or black soap used in conjunction with eucalyptus oil.
- Hammam Beldi and Body Wrap – A 50-minute traditional scrub that also uses black soap or black soap with eucalyptus oil, but with a body wrap of aromatized ghassoul. The ghassoul contains seven plants that stimulate the absorption of its natural active ingredients that gives your body and skin a radiant glow.
- Royal Hammam – A 60-minute full-body traditional scrub that uses an exfoliating glove and black soap with eucalyptus oil. This is followed by a mask of aromatic seven plant ghassoul. This hammam procedure ends off with a gentle beldi massage that incorporates stretching and a rosewater rinse.
The purpose of these treatments is to help detoxify the body, improve circulation, lymphatic drainage and cleanse the skin. As a result, they promote a deep sense of relaxation and rejuvenation. Aside from knowing what these procedures offer, it helps to prepare yourself for a day in the hammam since it is unlike your traditional spa experience.
Enter the Hammam
- Upon arrival, an attendant will show you to a changing room where they will give you a robe and locker. Women may have the option to go fully undressed or to keep on underwear/bikini bottoms. Men must wear bottoms. Once you are appropriately undressed, you will put your robe on and then meet your hammam attendant.
- Your attendant will then take your robe and bring you into a hot room that’s filled with steam. You will be prompted to sit back and relax by your attendant. You will be told to take a few deep breaths, and the exposure to the steam will open your pores.
- After five minutes, the attendant will bring you a bowl of Moroccan black soap, which has many healing properties for your skin. To apply the black soap, you will need to stand up, sit down, and turn around so that the attendant can apply the soap throughout your body. Once the soap is applied, you can rub it gently into your skin for a few more minutes for deeper absorption.
- After the application of the black soap comes the hot rinse. Not all hammams approach this step in the same fashion, but the attendant may come back with a wooden bucket or a plastic pail full of water. They will then use the water to rinse the soap off of your body.
- With the soap off of your body, the rough scrub will begin. At first, visitors may feel a bit of discomfort since the Kessa glove has a sandpaper-like texture. Most people quickly adjust but if you still felt that the scrub is too vigorous, you can always request the attendant to go more gently. Keep in mind the texture of the glove does your body good – it scrapes away layers of dead skin that typical cleansers and baths can’t remove.
Marrakech Hammam Spa Etiquette
It is very important to remember that Hammams in Marrakech (or any hammam for that matter) is deeply steeped in traditional Moroccan culture. That means there are “house rules” in terms of what’s acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in the hammam. Understanding them ahead of time will guide you so as to not violate offend the attendants.
Marrakech Hammam Rules
- Although women can be fully unclothed in the hammam, men CANNOT be fully unclothed.
- Men and women CANNOT share the same space – there are separate sections for both sexes.
- Splashing or using large amounts of water is frowned upon.
- Face the wall when exposing more private areas of the body.
- When drying off after the hammam, cover up with a towel and remove your underwear with it on.
Following these rules will ensure that you steer clear of potentially embarrassing situations.
Make the Most of Your Hammam Experience
A day spent at a hammam spa in Marrakech can be one of the most rejuvenating and healing experiences of your life. You will leave enjoying a newfound sense of relaxation, not to mention glowing skin and increased energy.
With that said, give thought to the procedures that take place at the hammam so that you can prepare beforehand for the procedures and rules of etiquette. Although most individuals who visit a hammam in Marrakech typically give rave reviews, those who are unaware of what the hammam experience entails may be in for a few surprises.
Nevertheless, with a little foreknowledge and guidance from the hammam’s staff, reminiscing about its steamy rooms will bring you joyous memories for years to come. Book a hammam experience today.
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