The Hammam

After a week in Rabat, some of us decided that we wanted to experience a trip to the Hammam while in Morocco. I had heard of a hammam before coming on this trip, and I couldn’t wait to come out with soft and very well exfoliated skin. A traditional Moroccan hammam is  a steam bath typically consisting of three large rooms that increase in temperature from room to room. Along with black soap, buckets of hot water are used to clean the body – with the option of an attendants aid. Hammams are a segregated space, with either separate entrances and rooms for men and women, or different times of admissions reserved for each gender.

After some research and talking to our host families, we decided that a Turkish spa would be the best option, as it entailed private rooms rather than the public atmosphere of a traditional Moroccan hammam. However, this didn’t happen, as the Turkish spa could not accept more than two or three people at a time. So with the recommendation of Barkave and Erin’s Lalla a group of us (Erin, Barkave, Lily, Mahisha, Kelly Wu and I) decided to visit a traditional hammam next to the Medina.

After being dropped off near the Medina, Lalla led us to a small convenience store and instructed us to buy a small portion of black soap (3 dh to share) and an exfoliating mitt (10 dh each). We were then led to an unassuming door that had small paper taped to the wall letting us know that it was in fact Hammam Marisa. We were ushered into the hot rooms and given buckets of hot water. After a few moments, a few attendants wandered in, and we were instructed to remove our bathing suit tops. We tried in a mix of Darija and French to convince the attendants to allow us to keep them on, but with a lot of shouting in Darija and French, and some convincing from Lalla we decided to remove our tops on the count of 3, 2, 1…

And right away an older attendant made her way to me and with some muttered instructions she began flipping me around like a rag doll, soaping me up and then scraping roll after roll of dead skin. I still cannot believe how much stuff was peeled off my body (gross, I know!). The experience quickly changed from painful to very soothing when the massage portion of the hammam began.

Once we were all done with our baths we stood in front of the hammam entrance admiring the softness of each other’s arms (apparently I was the winner). Although the experience was not what was expected, the end results were amazing, it’s too bad we don’t have such a “bath house” culture back in Canada!


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