A trip to Morocco wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a hammam. Central to the daily life of many Moroccans, the hammam is more than just a spa – it’s a social meeting place where deep-rooted traditional Islamic bathing and cleansing rituals are practiced. It’s a place to share news and relax with one another – often on a weekly basis – with men, women and children all coming for a few hours of downtime.
Royal Mansour, MarrakechThe practice is believed to have originated with the Romans before becoming an Islamic ritual and one that was made available to people of all classes and status. Unlike the dry heat of the sauna, the hammam experience centres around steam and water.
Travelling in Morocco is an unadulterated feast for the senses – from the bustling cities and the smell of spices, to the noise of the souk and the heat from desert winds. So visiting a Moroccan hammam is exactly what’s needed to refresh and rejuvenate after seeing the sights.
So what can you expect from your hammam experience? Although practices may vary slightly from place to place, there are usually three stages to this pampering paradise. First up, your Tellak (hammam assistant) will ask you to de-robe. Going naked is de rigeur in Moroccan hammams, so don't be shy – you’ll soon be engulfed in a cloud of steam. Sitting in the hot steam room gives your pores a chance to open up and your mind a chance to unwind. Next, it’s time to get lathered in black soap made from olive oil and macerated olives, and then you move on to being vigorously scrubbed with a kessa loofah to remove dead skin. Finally, you are refreshingly doused in cold water. You will never have felt cleaner or more invigorated!
Marrakech hammams are in abundance – here are some of our favourites:
Les Bains de Marrakech
In the heart of the Kasbah area of the Marrakech medina, this is a perfect option for couples, as they have joint hammam and massage rooms.
Heritage Spa, Marrakech
Located in the Bab Doukkala area of the Marrakech medina, they offer bespoke treatments to their guests. Booking in for an argan oil massage after your hammam scrub leaves you feeling sublime and your skin glowing like you didn’t know it could.
Hammam Dar El Bacha
Going where the locals go is always a good choice when you’re travelling and the locals flock to this hammam situated in the old city. Men can go in the morning, and women can go in the prime afternoon and early evening time.
La Mamounia, Marrakech
This hotel and spa is the epitome of serenity. For an extra charge, get use of the pool after your hammam experience and soak up the opulent décor.
Another favourite with the locals, this unassuming hammam is easy to wander past and can’t be found online, but is gorgeous nonetheless. Find it on Rue Riad Jdid, or ask a local to point the way – they’ll know it!
This white sanctuary devoted to the senses is quite possibly one of the loveliest hammams in Marrakech. Packages include a tailor-made hammam session and access to the pool and herbal tea room afterwards.
If you can't yet whisk yourself off for some pampering in Marrakech, you can recreate that spa feeling in your bathroom at home. Our Moroccan bathroom blog post tells you how. And don't forget the Argan Oil - essential to every indulgent spa moment!