Marrakech Experience: Hammam
So, what is a Moroccan Hammam?
In essence, it’s a steam room where people gather together and get scrubbed clean, often publicly. While most tourists aren’t going to feel all that comfortable in a gaggle full of nakedness, luckily, there are plenty of private options! It can be a group ritual for locals, typically weekly, though if I was living in Marrakech and faced with the grime we experienced daily, I’d have to up my level of attendance. I always felt dirty!
On our last morning in Marrakech, only a few hours after our arrival back from the Sahara, Rusty and I were welcomed into the Mythic Oriental Spa. We had read that you really MUST experience a traditional hammam while in Morocco, and considering that we both had sand plastered into body parts we couldn’t reach, it just seemed like the right thing to do.
A hammam treatment can be basic, in essence, a thorough scrubdown with Black soap, or, you can opt for something a bit nicer, in a cleaner, fancier setting. The basic bath tends to run you $20-$30, and lasts 30 minutes or so. Not a bad price, but honestly, we were tired and sore and we just wanted to make sure our experience was a nice one. I’ve read some cheaper ones can be a little scary, possibly unsanitary, and really, who needs that? Not me. Not Rusty, for sure. He’s OCD about being clean, in fact, I’ve known days where he’s taken four showers. So, we chose something better, something with great reviews.
We chose the Mythic Oriental Spa. Lucky for us, it was only a couple minutes walk from our Riad, so we didn’t even have to fight the heat of the city to get there. The reviews online were all fantastic, and after seeing it and experiencing it ourselves, I can see why.
Buried back off a main street, but easy to locate, the spa is in a beautifully converted Riad. It is wonderfully clean, luxurious, and serene…exactly what you want in a spa. We chose Le Mythic Amoureux package, a couples hammam, mineral bath, and hour long massage. No, it wasn’t $30…it was $85. For TWO hours. It’s hard to find an hour massage in the US for that, much less the scrub and the soothing bath. So, great value, and well worth what we paid!
We started by changing into robes, and the traditional paper underwear that are common in all hammams. (Rusty’s were black, and long, like boxer shorts, where mine were basically a Post-It Note tied up with shoestrings. I cared at first, but soon all decency left the arena so it became a non-issue. You’ll see.). We also donned comfy white robes, then were served mint tea to start the day.
From there, we were led into a dark room lined with stone benches that were roughly two feet wide. The benches were enclosed, and heated. Very, very heated. On top of the stone tops, thin cushioned mats were placed and doused with water to create steam and somewhat cool the bench. We each sat on the cushions, then two ladies came in and started pouring/throwing buckets of hot water on us, head to toe. We were told to lie down, and the scrubbing began.
Black soap, and scrubbing mitts peeled layers upon layers of skin off of our melting bodies (it was a steam room, and so so hot!) then we were doused again with buckets. These ladies know their jobs and they do NOT CARE what you look like. They are scrubbing your hind end, moving your Post It Note from side to side, getting that scrubber in places you yourself have never washed. They DO NOT CARE. You get clean, your skin is brand new and like a baby’s, and you feel so FRESH. After the steam room scrubbing, we moved into a separate room for shampooing and more dousing with buckets…which is both refreshing and punishing at the same time. They aren’t sweet about it, no. It’s a big wooden bucket of warm water and she slings that thing around like a shot put at you. I don’t like water in my face, but I had to get over it…and luckily the dousing didn’t last all that long.
Next up was AWESOMENESS.
We were ushered into a room with two big, white soaking tubs, each full of hot water and mint leaves, eucalyptus, rose and minerals. We each sank into our own deep bliss, drinking cool spring water with orange slices, and started making plans to build our own bathroom with two tubs because…yessss. Two tubs? It was sexy and smart and if you both like baths, this is definitely the way life should be.
After our bath, we had hour long massages, with orange blossom and mandarin oils. The tension just melted away! In fact, I managed to forget that the busy streets of Marrakech were right outside the doors!
Once the massage portion was over, we sat on the roof, drinking more water and sharing English cookies in our robes. The day was sunny but cool from our covered spot on the terrace, and if we hadn’t had to get to the airport, I imagine we would have stayed for hours!
So, if you’re ever in Marrakech, I highly recommend this gorgeous little spa, because I would go back in a heartbeat. The staff is delightful, and so helpful. Very professional, it’s very clean, and it’s a wonderful value…what more do you need?
Mythic Oriental Spa
Riad Laarouss, Derb Saleh, N7, Marrakesh 40000, Morocco