Don’t get me wrong: when you leave a hammam you feel relaxed, clean and splendid, yet in a way I also felt somewhat beaten up. Let me explain.
It was my first time in Marrakech, and as an experience-it-all traveler there was no way I was going to leave Morocco without visiting a hammam, also known as Turkish baths in other parts of the world. I had never been in one anywhere else (the closest experience being visiting a sauna in Finland just a couple of weeks before) leaving it for the time I was in a country where this practice was part of everyday life, and I did not miss the opportunity.
There are two kinds of hammams in Marrakech: the real, authentic ones where locals go to get a bath and rub for around 80 DH and those aimed to tourists which also include a massage, with different prices. I’m one of those travelers who like to experience the real thing, whether it’s riding chicken buses in Central America or eating grasshoppers as a snack in South East Asia, but truth be told I’m not a big fan of saunas ( Morocco is already warm enough) and I didn’t see the point of just getting a rub in a sauna, so this time I went for one that included a massage as well- my buttocks needed a rub after the 12 hour return drive from the desert the previous day. After looking around and as suggested by the friendly staff of my budget yet fantastic hotel in Marrakech I decided to visit Hammam Cleopatre, just a 1 minute walk from Djema el Fna square.
A Hammam: the Gommage and Massage
I was welcomed to the Hammam by Fatima, the manager and owner. She’s a very charming lady who makes everyone feel very comfortable, and was offered some tea as soon as I stepped into the reception area. I was yet to finish it when I was told that the hammam was ready, and was guided to a simple changing room behind a curtain. I took off my clothes and put my bathing suit on ( I had been told to bring one), and was next asked to walk into the hammam. As soon as the door opened I was slapped by hot and humid air, and saw that the young man responsible for the gommage was poised and ready. An essential part of a hammam experience is the gommage, the traditional exfoliation treatment using a black eucalyptus and olive oil soap. The whole body is scrubbed with an exfoliating glove for deep cleansing and skin stimulation. This is followed by a hairwash and natural soap rub after many rinsings, much needed duethe humid air and the friction because of the gommage. I do have to say that the rubbing was not the most pleasant of sensations for me, but I can’t even imagine what it is to have to rub people in those extreme conditions. Once finished though I felt clean and tired at the same time, and was glad to be out into the cool room ready for the 1 hour massage.
My favorite part of the hammam was the massage. I had been traveling for three days almost non stop (including a camel trek into the desert) and the gommage has worn me out. The masseuse appeared to be very knowledgeable and worked all the muscles of my body, intensely but smoothly. There is AC to keep the room at a comfortable temperature and traditional Arab music was played in the background to keep the environment spiritual and soothing. I felt very comfortable and relaxed by the time I was done, and was glad it was my last event of the day (unlike locals who visit hammams in the morning) prior to dinner as I was in the mood to sleep right then and there.
I highly recommend Hammam Cleopatre. It is very close to the most important square in Marrakech (and hence probably close to your hotel), the staff is super friendly and the facilities and services are both experiences that will make your day, everything at affordable rates.
Address: Kennaria n 44, Marrakech, Morocco
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I was a guest of Hammam Cleopatre, however all the information provided in this article as well as opinions expressed are entirely my own based on my visit .
Have you ever visited a hammam? Did you like it? What would you tell others who are thinking about visiting one? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below and this post too if you like it!