Before visiting Morocco you will hear horror stories of local Moroccan hammams where people sit on plastic buckets being hosed down and directed to scrub their naked self with BYO soap and gloves. In lieu of this intriguing experience bathing with the locals, and fearing the language barrier may mean I got an unexpected additional treatment, I opted for a visit to Heritage Spa that offers the typical Moroccan hammam experience in more luxurious surroundings. If you are also looking for the perfect blend of traditional Moroccan hammam techniques with a touch of lavishness then the Heritage Spa is for you!
On arrival you will be greeted with mint tea (obviously!) and asked to select the soap and oils you wish to be used for your treatments. I chose the traditional Moroccan hammam treatment followed by an hour long hot stone massage – my ultimate favourite as the hot stones really help my muscles relax. If you haven’t tried one I highly recommend you do.
Once led upstairs to a changing room you will be given slippers, a robe and disposable underwear. I suggest taking your own bikini bottoms as the disposable ones were so small I could hardly work out which direction they were meant to be worn! There are lockers provided for your belongings and then it’s time for your hammam. The entire Moroccan hammam experience takes place in a hot room (a little cooler than a sauna but still very hot!) with a warm tiled bench and a waterproof pillow to lie on.
Stage one of your experience will involve a good wash – you will first be rinsed with hot water, covered in a jelly type soap and left to bake in the hot room. Thankfully a bottle of water is provided to prevent dehydration! I ended up laying beneath one of the spots where the drips formed on the ceiling, so would occasionally get welcome relief from the heat when a droplet of cool water fell on me.
I can’t be entirely sure how long we were left in the hot room but soon two of the hammam ladies will return, rinse the soap off you and begin brisk scrubbing of every inch of your body with an exfoliating glove. The gloves are rather rough and the ladies surprisingly strong so any tan I had built up during my first two days in Marrakech was scrubbed off, along with several layers of skin. You will shortly be instructed to sit up so they can scrub your back properly, and I have to say the sight of my dead skin was revolting but they were clearly doing a great job exfoliating me!
Thankfully another wash follows the scrubbing, and they even wash your hair before caking you in Moroccan mud and leaving you for another session in the oven. I’m not sure if the room had got hotter or if I was so flustered from the whole scrubbing experience but I struggled to cope with the heat of the room the second time. I counted the mosaic tiles and drips on the ceiling trying to distract myself, then tried closing my eyes and trying to forget the furnace-level temperature – neither were that effective! It got to the point that I considered opening the door for some fresh air when I heard the welcome sound of the hammam ladies’ footsteps. Disclaimer: I am a bit of a pansy when it comes to saunas and steam rooms, I’m certain you will love relaxing in the heat!
After another rinse to remove the mud and a full body wash – they make sure to get in all the cracks and crevices (don’t worry you wash your own private parts), it is time to re-robe and progress to the relaxation room. To refuel post sweaty hammam you will be offered mint tea, mint infused water and a delicious sugar cookie. The relaxation room is clad in beautiful Moroccan fabrics with soft lighting and music creating a peaceful atmosphere away from the busy medina outside. After the bizarrely enjoyable Moroccan hammam experience I was pleasantly surprised by quite how soft and smooth my skin felt, sure enough everyone else in the room was also sat their stroking their silky legs and I’m sure you will be too!
Next it’s time for your massage and I have to say it was one of the best I’ve ever had. The massage includes a good mixture of normal massage techniques and use of the hot stones (I did find the one placed on my tummy a little odd I’ll admit). You will be massaged head to toe including a brief face massage to ensure not a single part of your body is left tense, I was very disappointed when my hour was over! I could already feel my muscles had started to relax following time in the warm hammam, and after the divine hot stone massage I felt sublimely zen.
If you’re looking to try a lavish Moroccan hammam without the big price tag associated with hotel spa facilities then Heritage Spa is perfect. Located within the maze of Marrakech’s medina, a short walk from Dar el Bacha, make sure you use google maps or watch their online video before you visit so you don’t get lost!
Find Out More…
Heritage Spa – http://heritagespamarrakech.com/en/index.html