First I was asked to change into paper underwear and wrap myself in a towel/robe. I locked up my belongings and followed one of the estheticians into a room with two tables and two stools. The next thing I know, she took the towel/robe right off of me in a single swift movement and I was left in the paper undies that maybe cover half of each cheek! I was told to stand as she turned on a faucet and started filling buckets with water and dumping them all over me. Next came some red substance that I think was a kind of soap… rubbed it all over and then washed it off with the buckets of water. While this was happening, another topless woman was brought in and went through the same procedure next to me. She had clearly done this before and wasn’t shy at all, so at least I felt like I wasn’t being taken advantage of in some foreign country!
I was then led into a steam room where the floor was visible but the steam blocked out everything eye level. I was seated and then left alone… almost naked… not speaking a word of French or knowing what was going on. I tried to relax and just enjoy the steam until about 10 minutes later, I saw feet walking towards me and then through the steam I saw it was my esthetician coming to retrieve me for the next part of the treatment: the scrub.
Going back to the first room, I was asked to lie on the cement table on my stomach (not too comfortable and the germaphobe in me felt a little uneasy). Next came the scrubbing. As she rubbed her gloved hand over my back, the first pass felt nice but then it felt like sandpaper scratching my whole body, back and front. I was imagining walking out with my sensitive skin covered in red splotches. After my back and front, I was asked to sit up so she could get my arms and I opened my eyes to see all my dead skin around me and coming off where she was scrubbing – eww! I closed my eyes again because it was gross and because it made me less uncomfortable that I was naked in front of this stranger. After my top layers of skin were gone, buckets of water were again thrown at me to wash them away, and then I was taken for my massage. I got to a room with four tables side by side and a woman laying topless on the table next to me getting a massage. I asked for a towel to lay on because I don’t think the plastic-covered tables are cleaned that often. The massage was great – especially on my feet that are so tired and sore from a month of sightseeing.
Back to the main room to be washed off once again, this time the massage oil came off with a loofah and sudsy soap (which I guess also cleans the table I was laying on). Then she washed my hair (no conditioner!), wrapped me in a robe, and left me without instruction to change into my clothes as the treatment was complete. What a whirlwind! My skin definitely feels soft and fresh now (and I didn’t lose my tan with all the skin that came off!), so it was a positive experience, but I do have some advice for anyone experiencing a Hammam for the first time.
Tips for your first Hammam experience
- Bring your own bikini bottom (this way you will have a bit more coverage especially when sitting on the stool to be washed off). And, if you are shy or modest about showing your girl parts, you can wear a full bikini, not just the bottom
- Bring or request a towel when lying on the massage table – if you’re a bit skeptical like me
- Not sure how other Hammams are, but this one had lotion and a hair dryer out in the main waiting room, where you will already be dressed. So, you may want to bring your own lotion, face lotion, deodorant, etc.
- Ask for a bottle of water to take with you in the different rooms throughout the treatment as it can get pretty hot and you don’t want to be dehydrated, especially if you will be spending the rest of the day in a hot place like Marrakech