A Moroccan hammam experience
Heady perfume-scented steam, total pampering, letting the cares of the world drift away. These are all images that the word hammam conjures up.
Below are my experiences of a hammam: for someone who isn't a spa buff, this was quite a new thing for me, I found it decadent, pampering and enjoyable.
The hammam room was decked in cream marble, had beautiful cream tadlekt walls, a vaulted ceiling, a huge bath full to overflowing at one end with steps up to it. A marble bench ran the full length of one wall and a large deep sink in the corner.
To begin with I sat on the hot cream marble bench in the vaulted ceiling room watching the water and light patterns reflect around the room, for about 5 minutes, allowing my body temperature to rise closer to the temperature of the room.
To start, warm water was poured over the bench and floor creating a sauna like atmosphere. I was then doused in warm water and asked to lie face down with arms outstretched.
Sticky Moroccan black soap was rubbed into my skin and my muscles stretched and massaged, I then rolled over and this was repeated on my front. I was then rinsed off with copious amounts of warm water.
Laying back down, black soap was again applied and this time rubbed vigorously in with a "gome" glove. This coarse mitt removes all the dead cells from your skin and stimulates the circulation, reducing the build up of cellulite. This was repeated on my front, but with less gusto.
My feet were enthusiastically rubbed with a ceramic foot stone, a terracotta foot rub with coarse grooves cut into the flat surface which is an incredibly effective remover of hard skin. I then sat up and was rinsed again with warm water.
Rhassoul clay (see our section on rhassoul) was then applied all over my body, face and hair: only my eyes were left uncovered.
I then lay on the warm marble bench and cooked gently in the cleansing clay for about 5 minutes. I was then brought a glass of cooling water to sip, before the clay was rinsed off in warm water.
I then stepped into the large marble bath which was filled with cool water. Fully submerged, all the last remnants of the clay were washed way.
Stepping out of the bath warm water was poured all over me followed by a sprinkling of delicately scented rose water.
Wrapped in a fluffy bath robe, complete with hood, I was served Moroccan mint tea, a refreshing end to a truly pampering experience.