The Moroccan Hammam: What to Expect


Hammam treatments appear on the spa menus of almost every luxury hotel in Morocco, and I highly recommend trying one during your stay. Like the hammam rituals offered by many spas in Turkey and some in Germany, the Moroccan version involves steam and exfoliation. But the Moroccans have put their own stamp on the experience.

Pouring water for the steam room for the hammam treatment at Royal Mansour in Marrakech
Pouring water for the steam room for the hammam treatment at Royal Mansour in Marrakech - Royal Mansour

Upscale spas will offer a disposable undergarment to wear during the treatment (the spa at Dar Ahlam was an unfortunate exception).

Your therapist will lead you to a steam room, usually with benches along the wall, rather than a central “navel stone” found in Turkish hammams.

Though I did have a male therapist at the Royal Mansour, therapists in hotel spas are almost always women. She will splash you with hot water, often unceremoniously, and rub your body with black soap, made substantially from olive or argan oil and black olives.

After sitting for five or 10 minutes in the steam room covered in the moisturizing soap, you’ll be rinsed and rubbed, usually quite vigorously, with a kessa (an exfoliating mitt). Your therapist may or may not pay attention if you request a lighter touch.

Once you’ve been thoroughly scrubbed, your therapist will apply rhassoul, a mask of clay from the Atlas Mountains, akin to mud masks offered in spas around the world. She may also offer to apply some rhassoul to your face. After one more rinse, you’re finished, unless you reserve a post-hammam massage. I recommend doing so, especially if the therapist uses therapeutic argan oil, produced only in southwestern Morocco.

The Royal Mansour in Marrakech has one of the most extravagantly beautiful spas I’ve seen, and though its hammam treatments are among the most expensive in Morocco (starting at $150), they’re worth it. I also visited hammams at La Sultana Marrakech and Dar Ahlam, but in both cases, the therapist’s English was limited and the treatment was not especially graceful. Even so, I emerged thoroughly refreshed each time.

Nothing is better after a long day of travel or sightseeing than a restorative hammam. To give your skin time to recover, limit yourself to one hammam treatment every five to seven days.

By Hideaway Report Editor Hideaway Report editors travel the world anonymously to give you the unvarnished truth about luxury hotels. Hotels have no idea who the editors are, so they are treated exactly as you might be.

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