What is a hammam?

What is a hammam?

Hammam is the Arabic word for ‘bath’. In Morocco it has come to mean the ritual carried out either in a public hammam, spa or, like us, our own private hammam in the Riad.

We provide everything – bathrobes, disposable slip/boxers, spa products, towels and slippers.  It needs to be booked beforehand so that we can heat the room and book the therapist, traditionally male for a man and female for a woman. You enter the spa space in your bathrobe, slippers and slip/boxers. You disrobe to enter the hammam. The therapist pours warm water over you, you then lie down and savon beldi, a natural mix of olive oil pressings and potash perfumed with eucalyptus is spread over your body. You let your body relax and get warm. This is then rinsed off and your skin is gently exfoliated with a special glove – kessa. There is another rinsing and soaping and another buffing with a chbka. Then ghassoul, an Atlas clay wrap, is applied to draw out more impurities from the skin. Finally, there is another rinse and washing. You leave the hammam relaxed and very clean.

Additional treatments are offered in the hammam – a face mask, body mask & short massage or hair treatment. Our therapists can also offer tqsal, a stretching massage done on the floor of the hammam when your body is warm. All these treatments must be booked beforehand.

To complete the experience a massage can be booked in the adjacent massage space.

Couples can be treated one after the other, the second person going in to the hammam when the first comes out and takes a massage. Alternatively, our masseur can give a hammam to a couple at the same time.

A hammam, exfoliation and clay wrap take about 45 minutes, a massage about an hour. Tqsal adds about another 15 – 20 minutes.

There are many spas in Marrakech now. Some of the public hammams have moved a little upmarket and cater for tourists, but very much in the traditional manner. Our local hammam by the big Friday mosque Bab Doukkala has recently had a makeover. Men only mornings and evenings, women only afternoons. The tourist spas range from budget to luxury, with décor and treatments to match. If couples or groups want their treatments at the same time, then Les Bains d’Orient and Hammam de la Rose are nearby. Though they can’t beat having a treatment and retreating to your room still in your bathrobe and having a long relax on your bed.

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