Relaxing. Soothing. Cleansing. These are just some of the words that should describe a traditional Moroccan Hammam massage.
However, your experience could be anything but if you don’t know what to expect.
Take my husband and me, for example. We found ourselves being slathered with a mudlike substance whilst sitting in our underwear. We also later found ourselves swimming in said underwear.
Our experience is certainly right up there with some of our most hilarious travel fails ever!
Don’t fancy making the same mistakes as us?
Read on to find out what you need to know about a traditional Moroccan Hammam massage.
- What is a Hammam massage and why is it called that?
- What happens in a Moroccan Hammam massage?
- 7 things nobody tells you about a Moroccan Hammam massage
What is a Hammam massage?
A Hammam massage is a traditional massage associated with the Islamic world.
Hammam roughly translates to “Turkish bath”, which is a type of “steam bath”.
But Hammam also has a deeper meaning.
Consider this definition: “A Moroccan hammam consists of a bathhouse with multiple rooms (dry and steamed) for cleansing the body and soul.”
Interestingly, Morocco was one of the first countries to embrace public bathing once the Ancient Romans had introduced the idea.
With all this in mind, then, during a Hammam massage, you can expect to find yourself within some sort of steam room.
Whether your massage happens within the steam room or later on depends on the type of massage treatment you choose and where you have it done.
But – strictly speaking – you can pretty much guarantee that a steam room is involved.
What happens in a Moroccan Hammam massage?
Despite the traditions associated with a Hammam massage, you may experience different things based on where you go to have one.
Here’s what a traditional Moroccan Hammam massage usually involves:
- Hot steam room: So your body can sweat all its impurities away
- Treatment room: Where you may get scrubbed with black soap or “mud”
- Bathing room: Where you can have a short swim or paddle
- Resting room: Where you can relax before your massage and potentially drink some mint tea
- Massage room: Where you’ll likely receive a full body massage
7 Things Nobody Tells You About A Moroccan Massage
1. Wear your swimming gear
During a Moroccan Hammam massage, you’ll likely be slathered with a mudlike substance. You may also end up going for a swim or dip later on in the experience.
With that in mind, be sure to wear your swimming gear. Or else you could find yourself swimming in your underwear – just like we did.
Off we went to join several other couples in a swimming pool to swim in our underwear. And we felt very foolish!
Please note that some hammams require you to be completely naked during your experience. However, we’d suggest erring on the side of caution and wearing your swimming gear as you may be allowed to keep them on.
2. Expect to get messy!
You saw me mention the mudlike substance, right?
While some parlours use black soap (made from black olives), others offer a type of mud wrap. Either way, expect to get messy and scrubbed every which way!
But this won’t be a problem if you’re wearing swimming gear, huh?
3. You’ll probably have several showers during the experience
After we’d had the mud wrap experience, we were shown where to shower. We were then also asked to shower before and after swimming.
Once again, this shouldn’t be a problem if you’re wearing your swimming gear.
4. You may be separated from your partner
While some steam rooms in Morocco are starting to allow men and women to stay together, many are more conservative. So you may find yourself separated from your partner.
While Scott and I were allowed to sit in the steam room together, we were ushered into separate changing rooms. We were also in separate rooms for the massage part of the experience as well.
5. You may want to learn some French
Although we had our first Moroccan massage at a 4-star resort, the staff taking us through the massage experience spoke very limited English.
They were speaking to us in French and gesticulating wildly, which left us feeling very confused for most of the experience.
So, maybe we should’ve refreshed our minds of some basics before heading there.
6. Don’t forget to look at your schedule!
As there’s so much involved in a traditional Moroccan Hammam massage, you may be given a piece of paper at the start to tell you the order of things and at what time your massage will be.
We didn’t realise this at the time, so we had no idea what was happening or how long we should stay in the swimming pool for. Did we have five minutes? Or an hour?
We stayed in the pool for about 20 minutes, but we ended up being very early for our massages.
So, you’ll save yourself a lot of confusion, stress and guesswork if you actually look at the timetable they’ll likely give you!
7. Expect a full body massage… and I mean FULL body!
Finally, you’ll get to the actual massage part of the Moroccan massage experience. However, it’s quite a different experience from what you might be used to at home.
First off, you’ll likely be separated from your partner.
Secondly, women are usually asked to remove their bras.
And thirdly, expect a full body massage… and I mean FULL body!
Even my chest got a bit of a massage in there, which I wasn’t expecting!
I still remember those fateful words of “Flip!” as the lady gestured for me to turn over onto my back. I was – of course – VERY aware of the fact that I wasn’t wearing a bra at the time. Eep!
So, are you feeling ready for your Moroccan massage?
We don’t say all this to put you off. If you’re going to Morocco for the first time, then it’s surely a rite of passage to experience a traditional Moroccan Hammam massage.
We simply wanted to share our experiences with you, so that – hopefully – you have a much more relaxing and carefree time than we did!
As a reminder, here’s what you’ll want to take note of before your Hammam experience:
- Wear your swimming gear
- Check the pieces of paper you might be given at reception – do they have a schedule or massage time on them?
- Learn French if you’re visiting a traditional spa in Morocco
- Remember that Hamman is a type of ‘steam room’ or ‘sauna’
- Accept that your full body will get massaged
- Read up on what to expect before visiting the spa! This step-by-step guide is also very helpful.
And you have it – our tips on how to make the most of your Moroccan Hammam massage (ideally minus any embarrassing travel fails!)
Do you want to know anything else about a Moroccan massage or for your trip to Morocco in general? Drop us a line in the comments below and we’ll reply asap!
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