The Hammam (Marrakech, Morocco)


Nourished from the inside by a gorgeous lunch, it was time to nourish myself on the outside - a hammam spa.

This was my first taste of a Moroccan hammam spa. This type of spa experience is infamous, and particularly signatured to Morocco, though similar styles of spa treatment exist elsewhere in the Arabic world, especially Turkey.

A Moroccan hammam consists of steaming, ruthless exfoliation, cleansing, moisturising and sometimes rounded off by an oiled massage. The hammam at La Mamounia was a good place to try all of that.

Situated in a dark basement underneath the hotel, the hammam had a lair-ish mood about it. The lights were incredibly dim, the air cool and damp and the walls clad with echo-jeering marble.

I was greeted and led to a bathroom to change, where I was given a white gown and a flimsy white cotton thong to wear.

There's no way in hell you're seeing the thong.

First step: STEAM

I was ushered to a dark steam room to rest for 30-minutes. The steam was thick and laced with eucalyptus oil. I felt the benefit of this mainly in my chest and sinuses. I felt like I'd had every nook and cranny of my airways bathed and sterilised. It's kinda like that minty freshness you have in the morning after you've gargled mouthwash, but pretend you near-drowned in it. Just a little bit.

Second step: EXFOLIATE

I was led to a dark room, disrobed and laid naked onto a marble platform. I was naked in front of a stranger. It didn't feel as awkward as I thought it'd be

A male masseur introduced me to his exfoliant, a gritty, home-made paste of crushed almonds, salt and honey. He started to rub this mixture into every imaginable crease of my body. He then slipped on a rough, woolen mit, and scrubbed around my entire body. It wasn't a pleasant experience at first, but after 5 minutes, it felt like my skin had woken up. I could feel my whole body buzz. I was extremely aware of my own pulse. I was then rinsed clean and felt smoother than an ovum's bottom.

Third Step: MARINATE

Once I was rinsed of all the dead and useless pieces (yes, PIECES!) of skin, it was time to give my newly-birthed epidermis a grand welcome to the world. After a brutal exfoliation, I was smothered in (pretty much) an olive jam. After being covered in this sticky, mulchy tar, I was left for about half an hour to marinate. The guy never actually told me it would be half an hour, so I lay there wondering if he'd left and forgotten about me. Was this somekind of social experiment: How long would a person lay naked on a marble slab, covered in olive jam, before they do anything about it? Hardly. But after about 30 minutes, he came back and rinsed me clean.

Final Step: MASSAGE

To finish the treatment, I was slicked in thin argan oil, a Moroccan product of pride, and given a gentle but thorough body massage. Nothing too barbaric - all the rough work was complete. I enjoyed this massage for about 10-15 minutes, before being blotted clean and guided to the showers to lather up.

The first thing I noticed after my hammam: you can really feel the air on your skin! It was like a whole new level of nudity. You feel like you've been reborn.

The interesting thing about the hammam, is that the ideology has followed me back home. I wish I had tried something like this sooner. It's widely reported that a regular, abrasive skin treatment encourages your skin to regenerate faster on the whole. As brutal as the hammam treatment may sound (and feel), most Moroccans visit their local hammam for a treatment every week - it's tradition.

 I don't know if I'll be indulging in a weekly deep-scrub mind, but I've certainly started being a little rougher on my skin, and I couldn't recommend it enough!

The results are something to be savoured.

After my hammam, I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing around Mamounia's swimming pools and gardens, getting to know my new skin.

Sunshine and WiFi - all I needed for the rest of the day.

Check out my next post, in which I'll give you a run-around of the pools and gardens - it's a beauty of a playground!

Until then...

Thanks for reading!




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