Relaxing. Tranquil. Soothing. These are just some of the words that describe the ultimate massage and spa experiences.

But what happens when you try to have a relaxing spa experience in a foreign country and you don’t know the rules or cultural differences in another part of the world? Well, I’ll tell you – you’ll end up swimming in your bra, feeling a whole heap of embarrassment and you will laugh a lot.

Let me tell you about the time my other half and I decided to go for a Hammam Massage Experience on our latest trip to Morocco…

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The Decision

We were staying in a luxurious 4* all-inclusive resort right next to the beautiful sandy beach of Agadir. Although we always opt for day trips where possible, we knew that this week was going to be as much about relaxing as we could muster. It was just after Christmas after all!

So, when we spotted advertisements around the resort for an offer on a Full Body Hammam Massage + Body Wrap for just under 300 Moroccan Dirham (£25) each; we knew we wanted to give it a go!

And… this was when the misadventures started happening…

Misadventure #1

We didn’t think to wear swimsuits / swim trunks – we wore underwear and clothes. When opting for massages in the UK, you normally remove your clothes and some of your underwear, with the masseuse draping a towel over you. That’s it – nice and simple. Ahem, not in Morocco.

Misadventure #2

We didn’t know that men and women normally get split up in the spa. You’re not allowed to change together and your massages are also separate. Yep – even when the hotel thinks you’re married because you swapped rooms with your parents!

Misadventure #3

We didn’t know what to do when pointed towards the Hammam room. It turns out that Hamman is a word for ‘steam room’ or ‘sauna’. You’re led into a steam room, asked to sit on mats and relax in here for a few moments. Then a lady comes in to offer you a body wrap (this was part of the offer we bought). So, there we were – sitting, covered in a mud-like substance in a steam room… completely unaware of what was going to happen next. Which leads me nicely onto…

Misadventure #4

We didn’t speak fluent French! The staff in the spa only spoke French and very limited English. So you can imagine there was a lot of gesturing going on and much confusion on our part from the beginning to the end.

Misadventure #5

We had to shower in our underwear. So it was pretty obvious – we would have to shower in our underwear to remove the mud-like substance from our bodies. Oh, how I wish I hadn’t worn one of my nice bras…

Misadventure #6

Up next – swimming in our underwear! Yep, it gets worse… off we went to join a few other couples in a salt water pool to swim in our underwear. Don’t get me wrong – the steam room, body wrap and pool were all lovely. But as we were swimming in our underwear, we did feel a little foolish.

Misadventure #7

We didn’t know how long we had to stay in the pool for. As we didn’t speak French, we were totally unsure whether we were supposed to spend 5 minutes or an hour in this pool. Little did we know that there was a timetable in my dressing robe pocket stating our massage started at 5pm … we found this later, thankfully after only spending 20 mins in the pool so we were actually early for our massages.

Misadventure #8

The massage. This is a little different from a massage you’d have in the UK. We knew it was a full body massage (part of the selling point for us), but in Morocco, full body really does mean full body! Even my boobs got a bit of a massage in there, which I was definitely not expecting!

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Learn From These Misadventures

So, what did we learn? And what am I hoping you’ll learn from reading about our misadventures?

  1. Wear swimming gear
  2. Check the pieces of paper you’re given at reception (does it have a massage time on it)?
  3. Learn French if visiting a traditional spa in Morocco
  4. Realise that Hamman is a ‘steam room’ or ‘sauna’
  5. Accept that your full body will get massaged
  6. Read up on what to expect before visiting the spa!

Although this spa experience was far from relaxing, soothing and tranquil; I’m sure it would have been if we’d known even just a little about what to expect. That was our fault for not reading up on it beforehand – lessons definitely learned! Clearly, I should have read this step-by-step guide!

It’s a good job my partner and I both have a sense of humour as we could only laugh the whole way through and think “Only us”. We’re also pretty sure this won’t be our last set of misadventures – just stay tuned!

I hope you’ve had a little laugh at our misadventures too! Has anything like this happened to you on your travels before? Have you indulged in a Hammam Massage experience in Morocco? Are there any other misadventures you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments section below… we could do with another laugh!

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15 thoughts on “Misadventures in Morocco: Hammam Massage Experience

  1. Laia says:

    Oh, that IS a misadventure! I can imagine it was embarrassing to swim in underwear… but it does make a good story to tell.
    I didn’t try hammam massage in Morocco but I did have an ayurvedic massage in India, in a non touristic place my local friends recommended me. So they didn’t know English, and I didn’t know what to expect. It wasn’t a misadventure but I did have that feeling like “what am I supposed to do?” and “what’s going to happen next?”.

    1. It certainly does Laia! It was totally embarassing but I’m just glad we could both laugh at the situation, and like you say, makes for a good story afterwards! Ahh yeah, I can imagine it being similar for you in India… definitely lots of those thoughts of “Eek, what am I doing?!” Glad we’re not the only ones… 😉

  2. Nina Ragusa says:

    OMG this is gold. HAHA. Mud in the steam room? Everything in your underwear? Good for you for saying whatever and just going with it. I may have done a u-turn and said, uhm I’ll be right back. lol. Good to know as I would have thought similar things as you two did. This makes for a good story but probably not the relaxing time you had hoped for lol

    1. Woo, so pleased you like my story Nina! I’m quite impressed we managed to keep going with it – kudos to my fella for sticking by my side! 😉

  3. Marina says:

    Hahahaha! I did the same thing for the first time. But hey I do enjoy the relaxing time! Gonna do it again tho (with decent things that I finally learned)

    1. Oh good, it’s not just us… ha! At least next time you’ll know what to expect so I hope it does turn out to be relaxing for you. I’m sure we’ll give it another go, this time knowing a little more about what to expect! 🙂

  4. Katie @ Zen Life and Travel says:

    OMG I don’t know what I would do if I all of a sudden was getting a boob massage! haha!

    1. Ha! Well… with the whole not knowing fluent French part and the fact that she was just getting stuck right in there, I couldn’t really do much but just say “Hey, okay then…” HA! 😉

  5. ellisveen says:

    hahaha, I also went to the hammam in Morocco. A very cheap local one so I was kind of prepared for a local experience. STill having your whole body scrubbed and massahged by another lady in a steam room with a lot of local woman staring and laughing at you is a somewhat awkward experience.

    1. Yep, definitely hear you on the “awkward experience” part! Believe it or not, we were the only ones with mud chucked on us. There were others in there but no mud for them. So erm, not sure what that was about :-/

  6. Allison Wong says:

    Similar things happened to me on my first time to Japanese hot spring too! All the foreign massage/spa rituals are so confusing sometimes…

    1. Phew, I’m so glad it’s not just us. We’re hoping to head to Japan one day BUT I will do as much reading as I can into everything beforehand. Definitely don’t want to make mistakes like this again if I can help it… 😉

  7. ha ha this is brilliant. I wrote a very similar post a couple of weeks ago about my experience in a moroccan hamman. It seems I am not the only one that didn’t know what was going to happen. It was enjoyable though!!

    1. Oooh did you? I’ll have to check it out and see just what mistakes/misadventures you had! 😉
      I’m so relieved it wasn’t just us though… good fun but I’ll definitely do my reading beforehand next time! Oops!

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