Marrakesh spas reputation stretch far and wide across the globe with its local hammam experiences through to the most luxurious of spas.
I know that there has been lots written about this topic on the internet already however I want to explore the differences between the different options. This might give someone visiting the city an idea of what they would prefer doing.
There are 3 kind of categories that I would like to discuss. The first is a Local hammam, the second is more of a local hammam mixed with a spa which is very much aimed at the tourists and the last is the luxury spa’s where someone can enjoy an escape and be pampered all day long.
This is the very beginning and concept of the spa. An hammam can be described as a local bathhouse where people from the neighbourhood can come and wash themselves. Its such an great concept. Dads will bring their kids to scrub them down and this gives the opportunity for neighbours, brothers, and friends to relax together.
The physical building consist of a room where fire is made to heat up the hammam. The hammam has three rooms in itself. The first room next to the fire is the hottest and to the extend that you will only be able to spent a little time in this room. The second room cooler and the last one the coolest both the latter further away from the first room and drawing the residual heat from the first room.
The experience is quite a ritual too. On your way to the hammam, get yourself some black soap and a scrub glove from the local shop. First when you enter the local hammam you should remove all your close bar your underwear, and hand your clothes to the doorman who will keep it on a rack whilst you are in the hammam. For this reason I would suggest to only take the money you need as your belongings will not be kept with you at all times.
Now the ritual begins, grab yourself three buckets go to the first room and start poring water into your buckets. Wash down a area you wish to sit (someone might have sat there before you did). Relax and let the steam heat you up. Move to the cooler rooms as you feel fit based on how hot you like to stay. Once you are relaxed you can start rubbing black soap on you – it doesn’t smell nice at all. Fill up your buckets of water again once you used them up. Then lie down and relax again. Once soaked with black soap, wash it off and relax some more… Get the picture. This whole process last around 1.5hours. You can then start washing yourself with black soap and start scrubbing yourself with your glove. One thing you will notice is that many men will ask the stranger next to them to wash their back for them.
Once you are done – exit the hammam, get your clothes and leave.
You can also ask the doorman to scrub you down and he will give you a little massage but that will not be worth much.
The second kind of spa that is usually quite popular is what I refer to as the “Tourist Hammam”. This is a spa that pretend to give you a traditional hammam experience however you are being taken care of by someone rather than doing the job yourself.
You will be asked to remove your clothes and either be given a loin cloth or a what can only be described as paper underwear.
Again you will go through three rooms but for different reasons, the first is a steam room, the second a room to wash down and the last a massage room. You will be introduced to the person who will take you through all three of these rooms and he/she will wash/scrub you, and give you a massage.
Generally they say do not tip the masseurs however they sneekely ask for a tip.
I visited hammam Ziani – www.hammamziani.ma
The rate was 270 Marroccan Dirhams which I think is reasonable for the treatment.
To me this is the best option and well worth the money spent. You will typically experience the above however it will be on another level. The steam room doesn’t smell, the hammam scrub is on a nice slate bed instead of a plastic covered bed and the massage is on a proper massage table in your own private room. The cost of this treatment is significantly more however to me the value is outweighed and I would highly recommend this option.
I visited Heritage Spa – www.heritagespamarrakech.com
The cost is depending on the service you take however they advertise their prices on the web. Nice and transparent!
Many of the Riad and hotels offer a spa experience. As a visitor to Marrakesh I will not do the traditional local hammam. You feel like you are intruding a little bit, it is quite private when you bath anyway. The second option is good if you want to stay on a budget and you like to pamper yourself a little bit however it can be a bit disappointing. The last option to me is the best value for money and the standard and relaxation that you can expect from a spa.