Hammam | My Experience In Morocco + Helpful First Time Tips
Interested in having a hammam experience?
Different health and wellness experiences are something I like to try, especially when I travel. Having a hammam experience in Morocco was something I was determined to do when I was there. A hammam is a Middle Eastern variation of a steam bath but with someone assisting you. If you’re at all squeamish about people touching you, I would avoid it. A fan of treatments like massages, then try it out. Also, be aware that you will be either half-naked or almost fully naked during a hammam.
When I organized my trip to Morocco I had a detailed itinerary with things I wanted to do in each place. Essaouira, on the coast, was a bit more relaxed so it was the perfect place to try and squeeze in a hammam experience. My sister in law and brother were with me on this trip and they were both up for anything I wanted to do. I did some research about hammams in Essaouira but didn’t really find any with stellar reviews so I asked the lovely proprietress at our riad. She called a place called La Relaxation Marocaine for us and arranged our appointments for the evening.
I snapped the location for future purposes :)
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The spa was near Bab Marrakech in the medina and a 5-minute walk from our riad. When we arrived at the spa, we poured over menus. Similar to Southeast Asia, the treatments were really cheap!! Yay for us! My sister and law and brother went for a 60-minute massage along with a hammam. I went for a 30-minute massage plus hammam. Because their massages were longer they went to have them first. The spa attendants sent me to a room where they suggested that I take off my clothes. I wasn’t totally comfortable with being naked especially since I was having issues with my stomach so I threw on my bikini bottom but was topless. I sat in a hot and steamy sauna-ish room and just waited around for a while.
Finally, a young lady came in and then took a bucket some warm water and doused me with it. After more waiting around, my sister in law and my brother came into the room. Oh hey, there family! Check out my boobs. Talk about awkward. I imagined that my sister in law and I would be in a women’s bath and my brother would be in a separate bath. But because we were the last and only customers and the spa actually stayed open later for us, they threw us in the same room.
So there sat my family all in variations of partial nakedness.
The young woman who was bathing us started with me. She scrubbed me with black soap and a kessa or a texturized exfoliating mitt. Argan oil was then poured onto my head. As the argan oil was being absorbed into my hair, she moved on to my sister and law and brother. Then she came back to me and gave me a scalp massage. After the scalp massage, she washed my hair and rinsed me off. All of it was fabulous even though awkward with my family there. My hair was so soft for the next few days and my body softer than it had been in ages. I would definitely go for more hammams if the opportunity arises.
A luxury hammam – Photo credit: Flickr
Photo credit: La Relaxation Marocaine
There are different hammams to be experienced in Morocco, just like any spa treatments when you travel. You can go high-end luxury, mid-range, or more of a local experience. While I wanted to experience a local vibe, my sibs wanted a spa experience. So we went to a spa located in town. I would classify it between mid-range and basic. I like all kinds of spa and wellness treatments and will go to everything from budget to high-end.
Massage room. Photo credit: La Relaxation Marocaine
Some helpful hammam tips:
- If you are uncomfortable with being half naked or naked, I suggest wearing your swimsuit or underwear. I went topless but wore bikini bottoms. My siblings were in their underwear
- Some spas provide shower shoes or slippers. I brought flip flops in case
- Bring a change of clothes if you are getting a massage because you may be rubbed down with argan oil and you may not want your clothes to be layered in oil
- Be prepared to wait a lot. If you have no patience, this may not be the treatment for you. You will be waiting as attendants bath other hammam patrons
- After my hammam experience, I loved how soft I felt so before I left Morocco I purchased some black soap, kessa gloves, and argan oil in the Chefchaouen medina. I am still using my gloves and have a lot of argan oil left since I bought loads but I have since run out of black soap! If you love beauty products from around the world as I do, I suggest stocking up on some before you leave Morocco.