What is a Moroccan Hammam?
What is a Moroccan Hammam?: I was surprised to see how much of a social – and sometimes spiritual – ritual hammams are in Morocco. Hammams are deeply rooted in Arab culture and have survived for many centuries.
Contrary to what you might think, a hammam is a meeting place with a family atmosphere. In Marrakech, it’s common to visit once a week.
Before entering, you need to be open-minded and respectful of the people with whom you share the space. Don’t be surprised if you see people washing each other. In Morocco, this is a sign of love between friends and family. It’s up to us to learn from it…
How are you received in a hammam?
It’s confusing to realize that no two hammams operate in the same way. Read on, however, to find out what to expect ;-).
In general, you’ll find three steam rooms in a hammam. Each room has a different temperature.
The experience starts in the hammam with the hottest room, to let your pores open up. You’ll pour water over yourself and wash with black soap. Leave the soap on for about ten minutes. Then you can start removing dead skin by scrubbing with your glove (called a kessa = a rough glove). Rinse and wash your hair, then rub in some oil (usually argan).
If you prefer assistance, ask another visitor (yes, really) or a hammam employee. In hammams, men and women are segregated.
The difference between public and private hammams:
There’s one thing you need to be aware of before choosing a hammam. Public hammams (public baths) do not operate in the same way as private hammams.
The experience in a public hammam (public bath for locals):
In a public bath, you won’t see any big advertising posters, luxurious decorations or websites. Although they’re open to tourists, they’re mostly popular with Marrakchis, who can do without all that.
Remember to bring your own equipment. You’ll need a large bucket, a stool if you don’t want to sit on the floor, a glove (kessa), black soap, shampoo, a towel or bathrobe and clean clothes.
The entrance fee is around 10 dirhams (1 euro). A little more if you ask a hammam employee for a scrub. It’s ridiculously cheap. If you’re satisfied with the service, it’s customary to tip.
The private (tourist) hammam experience:
In a private hammam, you’ll be taken care of from head to toe. Get ready and let go: you’ll be washed as if you were a child ;-).
The best Hammams in Marrakech:
What is a Moroccan Hammam?: So now you know what to expect when you visit a traditional or tourist hammam. Now let’s list the hammams you should try.
In Marrakech, the choice is vast and prices range from single to double. It wasn’t easy for us to know where to go at first, but today we always go to one of the best hammams, which I present below.
Hammam Mille & Une Nuits:
The 1OO1 nuits is a hammam-spa located in the heart of Marrakech that perfectly respects Moroccan tradition. It’s a clean place where you’re quickly put at ease.
This hammam offers one of the best quality-price ratios. Admission is 150 dirhams, and you’re offered a towel, horsehair glove, scrub and black soap.
You’ll need to pay 330 dirhams for admission including a clay body treatment and a 30-minute massage.
Les Bains de l’Alhambra in Marrakech:
At Les Bains de l’Alhambra de Marrakech, you’re free to indulge in anything you like: a milk bath, a rose petal bath and a relaxing oil massage. It’s a wonderful experience. You’ll have the chance to try out 100% Moroccan products such as kessa gloves, one of the oriental women’s secrets for keeping their skin soft.
The main swimming pool is the ideal place to relax. If need be, indulge in a traditional oriental massage. Messages are all over 100 dirhams, but the quality offered is well worth it. Opening hours vary according to season and day. In general, the Alhambra baths are open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
How much does it cost to enter a hammam?
What is a Moroccan Hammam?: There are generally two types of hammam: one for low-priced locals, and one for tourists and upper-class Moroccans, which generally costs 150 DH (13 euros). Tips of around 20 DH (2 euros) are highly appreciated.
In traditional hammams, schedules are generally set up to separate men and women. Tourist hammams are generally mixed so that couples and families can go together.