I was a bit nervous going into the Hammam because I knew you had to be naked and that they would scrub you all over. I’m used to massages, but nothing like what this sounded like!
In the past, the hammam was where you could go to get cleaned with hot water. There are public ones which the locals are more likely to use, and there are private ones, like the one I went to. The conference I went to, the Trablin International Summit, set it up for me so I could get a taste of the local culture and I didn’t want to turn it down just because I was afraid to be uncomfortable. Time to get outside of my comfort zone! That’s what travel is all about, right?
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My friends told me what it was like and how it was an interesting experience…keeping in mind these friends are all American, so they were raised in the same culture regarding being naked. They all said that after it was over, they felt so clean and smooth. It was all worth it!
So, that’s what I went in with…a little fear, a little curiosity, and a wish that it wouldn’t be too rough.
Location of my hammam
The hammam experience I had was at Hammam de la Rose in the Medina of Marrakech. We actually walked there from our hotel 2Ciels Boutique Hôtel and had lunch nearby at Dar Marjana. While it can be easy to get turned around (aka lost) in the Medina, this is right off of a main road in the Medina, so it’s pretty simple to get in and out of. There’s even a handy drop off point a few doors down if you plan on taking a taxi.
The inside is stunning and seems to be created to start the relaxation process as soon as you walk in from the busy and noisy outside. It’s calm and welcoming smiling faces get you checked-in and sorted. While Sean didn’t want to get a hammam, he did go with me and they were happy to have him sit in the reception and wait for me. They even gave him some tea (which we both love).
Service at Hammam de la Rose
The service was very pleasant but I am now used to a culture that is very direct and doesn’t do a whole lot of small talk. What do I mean by this? Well, I’m aware that there are cultures (like Americans) who are used to being checked in on constantly. “Is this pressure okay?” “Is that too warm?” and things like that. This isn’t like that, and that’s okay. It’s not rude, it’s just quick and efficient.
I was taken to the dressing room which has a thick curtain for privacy and you get a locker, robe, slippers, and disposable underwear. Throw everything in the locker, cover up with the robe and magically someone appears to take you upstairs. I did notice that the men’s and women’s dressing rooms are separate in case you are wondering.
My hammam experience in Marrakech
As I was escorted upstairs, I mentioned I was a bit nervous, so the woman stopped and took a few minutes to help me understand the exact process. I really appreciated that. At the top of the stairs was another room where I was handed off to another woman, took my robe off, and switched to flip-flops that they gave me from the slippers I had put on earlier.
This other woman introduced herself and asked for my name which I thought was a nice touch. I was led into a round room that reminded me a bit of a Roman bath as the walls and benches were heated but there was no steam. There was a beautiful sink/fountain in the middle lit up from underneath which looks almost fairytale-like.
I was to ask if I could let her know if it was too hot and before I knew it, I was splashed with a bucket of water and was asked if it was okay. I had to chuckle because it felt a bit playful but I know she just needed to see if it was okay for me–and it was perfect. Hot but not too hot.
After being splashed a few more time, a Eucalyptus black soap was rubbed all over me and I was left to lie on the bench shielded from too much heat by a mat placed on top. To let the soap do its job, I had to let it soak in and prepare the skin for the scrubbing that would soon come. Once I was done basting, the lady came back in the splash me some more and get all the soap off so the scrubbing could be done smoothly.
Get it? SMOOTHLY? 🙂
I was moved to a room that was less hot (but still very warm) and bigger than the first one. It was very pretty and I kept being seriously impressed with the ambiance of this hammam.
I was scrub-a-dub-dubbed with a scrubbing mitt pretty much everywhere, told to roll over or turn when necessary. All the dead skin got washed all away and I could tell a huge difference! Nothing was as rough or as hot as I feared. The scrubbing was substantial but the moment I made a sound that signaled I was uncomfortable, she asked, “softer?” and I said, “yes, please”. The stomach is a bit more sensitive than the legs, you know?
Having my hair shampooed and conditioned with the yummiest smelling stuff, ever, was my favorite part. Who doesn’t love getting their hair washed at the salon? Everyone loves it!
Then a layer of henna (not the tattoo kind) was put on me, and I was instructed to go rest in the same spot as before — in the hot room. This special henna is to help nourish, rejuvenate, and cleanse the skin to prevent acne.
After this last baking session, I showered and then sat back down with her. Then, I was lathered up with a green shower gel which was rinsed off. The final step was an application of rose oil that left me smelling like an angel while hydrating my skin.
I’ve never felt so clean or smelled so good. Should I even admit that? Geez.
Finally, I put my robe and slippers back on and went up to a room filled with cushions to relax a bit. I was served tea, water, and a little bite. If I had a room like this is my house, I would be asleep in it all the time!
Overall opinion on my Marrakech hammam experience
I like to question whether I would do it again to see if I would recommend an experience. Well, actually, Sean asked me this and it makes sense, so I’ll now be adopting that strategy 🙂
Would I get another hammam experience? Yes, I would. Do I love being super scrubbed? It’s not my favorite thing, but I see it as a personal care thing. I’m more of a massage person, myself. But I definitely see the appeal of getting a hammam. Getting all squeaky clean and literally smelling like a rose was incredible. It wasn’t as weird as I thought.
Do you have any other questions about going to a hammam? Ask away!
Wishing you love and travels 🙂
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