Hi! Long time no type… well, it’s been a few months, which, for this blog, is actually a pretty fast turnaround. But I’m back! This time, with a bucket list entry that was… an experience, to say the least…
I’ve been to Morocco once before (pre-RR), and, honestly, didn’t really rate it back then. I’m not sure if it was walking through the medina and souks and having all of my senses attacked at once, the dubious tour guide that tried to scam us multiple times, the fact that my travel buddy got some horrendous stomach pains from some street meat, or a combination of all three… but I left Marrakech feeling more stressed than I was when I arrived. Which is a shame, as anyone who has been can attest to the gorgeously delicate buildings and culture that just seems to soak into you.
All that being said, I was in dire need of some heat, sunshine and relaxation towards the end of October, and, given I live in Europe and only had a few days of annual leave to take (no long term suntraps this time!), this left either Morocco or the Canary Islands, realistically. Marrakech it was… which also gave me reason to tick off another one of my bucket list items, visiting a hammam!
For those of you who aren’t familiar, hammams are traditional steam baths and spas, closely associated with Islam and predominantly Muslim countries. They were historically used for both religious and hygienic purposes, and also offered a place for socialisation (you can still very often find male- or female-only hammams across the Middle East and North Africa specifically). Nowadays, they offer mostly spa/beauty/relaxation services, but you can still get traditional services within certain hammams… which naturally I opted for. Go big or go home?
I booked my hammam experience in Marrakech through Get Your Guide, which I hadn’t actually used before and would recommend. All in, including transfers from and to my hotel, it cost around £35, which was a steal if you ask me, and the transfers were easy to find and very prompt. Another woman and I got to the centre of Marrakech at around 10.30am, and we were led down an alleyway to the spa itself (Click Spa, Derb Toudgha).
Upon arriving, we were given small lockers to put our belongings in, and a robe and some sandals to wear around the building over our underwear/bikini bottoms (top tip: bring an extra pair of dry pants. Trust me on this). The spa itself was a very thin tall building with steep stairs, and I was led to the top of the building where the wet rooms were.
Step One: The Wet Room
After entering the wet room, I stripped off to just my pants and was asked to sit on a bench, where a lady chucked buckets of hot water at me. It’s a good thing I was the only person in that room because the screams were real. When I say she chucked buckets of hot water at me, I literally mean it – think pouring water over my head in a mild waterboarding motion. The wet room itself was warm, and I was then encouraged to lie down and “relax” so my pores opened. Don’t need to tell me twice!
After lying in the room by myself for 15 minutes, increasingly concerned that they’d forgotten about me (!), the lady came back and threw some more hot water on me, lathered me up with a very heavily scented Moroccan black soap, and then forcefully scrubbed about 20 years of dead skin from my body using a mitt. I’ve never known anything like it, I knew it would happen but actually seeing the mitt in action was utterly ridiculous. Didn’t hurt as much as I was anticipating, was very effective, and I felt like this afterwards:
After the vigorous scrub, I was once again asked to return to a seated position where, surprise surprise, I had various buckets of hot water thrown at me again. My favourite! I was then oiled up and moisturised, and then left alone for a bit, presumably so the oil soaked into my skin.
Step Two: Tea and Massage
I was then given back my robe and sandals, and led to the middle floor of the hammam where I was handed a cup of sweet Moroccan mint tea, some dates and little spiced biscuits. It was a lovely touch, and, apart from not being able to shake the thought that I was basically naked in a public building, very relaxing.
After drinking several cups of tea, I was invited into an incensed massage room with two beds, where I was given an incredibly relaxing Argan oil back, neck and shoulder massage for the remaining 45 minutes. Honestly, I couldn’t fault this part of the experience – it was a very “normal” massage but felt wonderful after the scrub-and-hot-water shock to the system. After this, I was led back downstairs, changed back into my clothes, and led back to the main street, where the other woman and I waited for our transfer back to our hotels.
Honestly, it was an experience. I’m not sure I’d do it again any time soon (maybe just the massage part? Is that lame to admit?), but I’m glad I got to experience it, and the ladies running the spa were just lovely (even if the morning forced me to use my poor GCSE French). I’d recommend going to a hammam at least once, especially if you’re made of stronger stuff than me… I’d just strongly advise, once again, to take a spare pair of dry pants.
And because I like rubbing it in, here are some shots of the hotel I stayed at, just outside of Marrakech (Sol Oasis Marrakech):
Until next time!