How to survive your first Moroccan Hammam Experience

If you are about to have your first Moroccan hammam experience then hopefully this description of my own Hammam treatment will help you know what to expect!

I think if I had known what to expect from my first hammam experience, I would have been able to relax and enjoy it so much more. Instead, I spent most of my hammam treatment giggling uncontrollably, semi-naked with my friend, trying not to feel awkward!

Interior of a traditional moroccan bath - hammam

What you can expect from this article…

What to expect from your first Hamman experience in Morocco

Getting ready for your first hammam experience

My friend and I were led into a changing room and handed the most unattractive see-through paper thong to wear.

Despite being a GP doctor and hence being around nakedness often at work, I personally remain a bit of a British prude. So I decided to try and keep my one-piece swimsuit on.

The lady who had sold me the hammam had told me this would be fine though the ladies doing the hammam looked a little irritated that I wouldn’t follow the rules!

My friend, feeling awkward in her paper underwear asked for a towel to protect her dignity. The women shook their head and instead ushered us into the spa, ignoring our pleas for modesty!

There was one other woman in the spa when we first arrived but we soon had the place to ourselves – at least that was something?

Fear not, men and women are always treated in separate areas!

hammam bathrooms

Time for a steam bath

We were then ushered into a steam room and were left for about 10 minutes.

It certainly wasn’t the hottest steam room I’ve experienced before but I’ve heard from other people that many hammams are kept very hot so don’t be surprised! Maybe take a bottle of water to keep you hydrated.

We were then collected by the masseuses and taken to a small stool in front of a pool of water. Using a small bucket, they washed our bodies and applied a brown paste which I later discovered was a type of soap containing olives.

We were then returned to our steam room for another 10 minutes.

hammam steam room

Time for some serious exfoliation

After some more time in the steam room, we were taken to the massage tables – more like slabs of marble rather than comfortable massage tables I’m used to!

At this point, I was told to strip. Realising it was more of a demand than an option, I pulled my swimsuit down to my waist and accepted there was no option but to be topless for my Hammam experience! I was still thankful I didn’t have to wear that paper thong though…

We were then exfoliated from top-to-toe in a rather brutal way, huge chunks of dead skin floating away from our bodies as they poured hot water all over us and covered us in some kind of oil.

Getting off the massage table almost ended in disaster – covered in oil, that marble table is somewhat hazardous!

Jacuzzi time

Luckily, my therapist helped me off the table without landing in a heap on the floor – I didn’t have much dignity to lose at this point!

We were then given 10 minutes chilling out in a jacuzzi which was actually quite relaxing.

More olive paste…

We thought our hammam experience was over at this point but no, there was time for one more round of olive paste to be applied to our bodies.

I was then led into the shower and instructed to wash it all off.

My therapist demanded I take my swimsuit off completely. Suspecting she would hang around, I decided to keep it on. But I was right, two seconds later she poked her head back in and again told me to take it off, this time not hiding her exasperation. I guess that’s me told off!

Enjoy a hot stones massage

With the Hammam part of the experience over, they finally gave me a dressing gown so that I could go to my massage.

a hot stones massage as pat of my hammam experience

Though I then learnt that I had to walk through the hotel lobby to reach the treatment room. Again, they tried to insist I wore just a see-through paper thong. But there was no way I was walking through the lobby without even wearing any underwear! So again, I disobeyed, to their exasperation!

Where the hammam experience had hardly been relaxing, the massage was the complete opposite. In a darkened room with tranquil music and the aroma of essential oils, I was treated to one of the nicest, most relaxing full-body hot stones massages I’ve had.

There was certainly less discretion and blankets than I’m used to in the UK but by this point, I was getting more comfortable with my nakedness. I was, however, a little surprised when she started massaging my chest – I’m not sure there’s a lot of muscular tension held in your boobs?!

But, I was so relaxed by this point I just went with it and for once played by their hammam rules!

Top tips for your first Hammam experience

  • Wear your own bikini bottoms, not a swimsuit. Unless you can pull off the seriously unsexy see-through paper thong look?!
  • Accept you are going to be naked and know that these women have seen it all before. If you can get your head around it first, you will be able to relax better.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for different pressure levels in your massage. Whilst the Hammam is a little brutal, the massage after was lovely so make sure you enjoy it to the utmost!
  • Take a bottle of water to keep hydrated during your steam bath.
  • Make sure you book a massage as not all hammam experiences include one.

Have you ever had a Hammam in Morocco? I’d love to hear what you thought! Make sure to pop your own experiences in the comments box below…

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