A hammam is a steam room, similar to a Turkish bathhouse. The hammam is an important part of Moroccan culture and a way of life for many. Men and women bathe separately, of course, but most Moroccans go at least once a week to cleanse themselves while socializing and enjoying a little gossip. I had heard going to a public hammam is a really eye-opening experience for Westerners but after four days of breakneck travel, I was so tired I opted for a private experience in my riad (Moroccan guesthouse).
Full disclosure: If public (or semi-private) nudity is not your thing, you will likely not enjoy this experience. However, if there is no shame in your game, continue reading.
The Hotel Hammam
The hammam at my riad, the Hotel & Spa Dar Bensouda, was small and intimate. There was just one room that is scheduled by appointment only.
After I had arrived at the spa, I exchanged my clothes for a robe, put a bonnet on my hair, and entered the steaming hot room. Except for a thong, I sat naked on the bench enjoying the steam.
After about 10 minutes, the attendant came in, and the ritual began. First, she poured hot water over my entire body using big buckets.
Next, she applied a thick clay to my skin from top to bottom. Then she removed the clay and applied a black soap that was left on to penetrate my skin. The soap was washed off, and then the real fun began.
The attendant, a slightly stout woman who you could tell has done this for years, put on scrub gloves and began exfoliating the hell out of out skin. I lost several layers of skin in the process. It was intense and at times I wanted to giggle because here I was, stark naked, getting scrubbed by an older woman wearing a one-piece bathing suit. Instead, I just smiled and remained present enjoying this unique experience.
After all the dead skin cells had been removed, my skin was rinsed again with slightly cooler water allowing my pores to close.
The attendant dried me off and helped me put my robe back on. I was ushered to a massage room where I had a full body massage in a warm, quiet, darkened room with Moroccan argan oil to fully relax me. Total bliss I tell ya.
Suffice to say, I slept like a baby that night. I can’t wait to go back to Morocco to experience a public hammam. While a hammam is not for everyone, I enjoyed it and highly recommend the experience.