After an exhausting day of strolling through the Fez medina or through the shops of Marrakech, there is no better way to relax and unwind than visiting a Moroccan hammam. These are similar to traditional bathhouses except hammams do not provide guests with the same levels of privacy as a bathhouse. Bathing in hammams is conducted in open water pools in a public setting, with hot and cold water faucets and pools.
Hammams in Morocco are a place where friends come together to rest, relax and visit. Upon entering a hammam, tile rooms with hot water faucets built into the wall. Local hammams are open water pools where everyone comes together to soak and receive treatments.
Men and women bathe separately. Women and men bathers are required to wear a minimum of a bikini bottom or shorts into the bathing pools. Bathers engage in a cleaning sessions while enjoying the company of friends. For this, conversation at times may reach almost unbearable levels. Most bathers do not mind this. Conversation is what makes the hammam a popular meeting ground.
Visitors are presented with the option of bathing in high end versions of the traditional Moroccan hammam. All treatments begins with the bather receiving a bucket containing olive oil soap and a towel. At these upscale hammams, treatment is one-on-one with a specialist. A full range of treatments entails body scrub down, mud paste application and oil treatments.
This is followed up with a soothing trip to the sauna. With the skin now clean and warm from the sauna, bathers receive a loofah scrub to exfoliate skin cells and restore a natural, healthy glow to the body. After this scrub, bathers finish treatments with a massage, rose infused bath and cold water treatment to relax and rejuvenate the skin.
Moroccan hammams are readily available in any city or small village. There is virtually one on every street corner in the bigger cities and towns. Wherever there is a group of people heading in one direction with bath buckets in hand, a hammam is sure to follow.
If a hammam calls for individual bathing techniques instead of one-on-one service, there are a few rules to keep in mind. To start, only use two buckets of water to bathe. Taking anything more will be looked upon as greedy. Moroccan hammams are frequented at least once a week by residents. There is no better place to catch up on the latest news than over a warm, relaxing bathe with friends.
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by Sam Mitchell