How to Prepare for Your First Hammam Experience
If you are reading this article, then you are either planning to try a hammam or are curious on what a #hammam is.
When a coworker recommended that I try a hammam in Morocco, I was like "HUUUH. What's that!?!" Googling the term did not give me enough information either. Hence, when I got to Fez, I knew that I had to make it happen. However, I was so confused on which one to choose as I had seen some that were extremely nice, but extremely expensive as well. There were also a lot that were on the opposite end of the spectrum, which had me concerned about cleanliness.
Ultimately, I decided to choose a spot that seemed reasonably priced, but clean too called Hammam Mernissi. We actually got lost trying to find it as it is deep in the #medina. We had to stop inside of a riad for them to call the place. They were nice enough to send someone who walked with us to the front door of the place.
Here is a guide to help you be fully prepared on what to expect. Please note that this is based on my experiences at a tourist hammam.
What is a hammam?
In simplest terms, a hammam is a hot steam #bath that is usually followed by a massage. However, this is not an ordinary steam bath (by any means)!
What should I wear inside the hammam?
Once you get to the hammam, you will be asked to take off your clothes and put on a bathrobe. At the location I went to, I was given a disposable thong to put on.
What exactly happens during a hammam?
STEP 1: Get comfortable...by comfortable, I mean undressed
I was escorted by a woman (who spoke limited English) to a changing room where I was handed a robe, some slippers, and a disposable thong. I placed all of my clothes in a basket.
STEP 2: Take a moment
After my travel acquaintances and I changed, we were asked to wait on a bed in the main lobby. Ultimately, my two acquaintances were given a massage while I was given the hammam first (in a room that had space for two people).
STEP 3: Soap Up
The attendant escorted me to the room and at that point, I was asked to take off my robe. I entered a dark, steamy room that had two marble tables and was asked to lay on the marble table flat on my stomach.
The attendant had a bowl of sticky black Moroccan soap that looked like molasses. I was literally lathered with soap on all parts of my body: legs, feet, back, face. They even lifted my breasts and body rolls to wash in between the creases! At certain points, I was asked to stand up. I had never had any one bathe me before as an adult...
STEP 4: Hot Rinse
Man was this definitely hot, but not scorching hot! Essentially, the woman took a plastic pail and continuously filled it up with water to pour over my body in order to rinse off the soap.
STEP 5: Scrub down...the hard way
The scrub was probably the biggest surprise of the process. Although It can feel uncomfortable at times, exfoliation is important. I do not recall what the attendant used to scrub me down from head to toe. However, once the #scrubbing was done, what shocked me was the great amount of dead skin that came off. The experience was rough at times due to the fact that it felt as if sandpaper was scratching my skin. However, at the end of the process, my skin was so smooth! After the scrubbing, I was rinsed with more hot water.
STEP 6: Hair Wash
The hair wash was another total surprise! This is a rarity unless you are going to a hair salon. Such a treat! I felt so refreshed after this entire process.
STEP 7: Massage
After this long process of #bathing and #exfoliation, I was escorted into another room for a 45 min #massage. This massage was the most thorough massage I had ever received - from head to toe! They definitely identified some of my more painful areas. That massage was very necessary.
STEP 8: Sip mint tea...pinkies up!
Sipping #minttea is supposed to end the experience. However, they ran out of tea (considering we were one of the last customers :-(. )