You know what they say – clean body, clean mind. Or something like that, at least. Despite the dust and the heat, Marrakesh is the place to go if you want to experience cleanliness like never before. Forget your lukewarm showers with a squirt of sterile-smelling shower gel – what you want, weary traveller, is a hammam. After stripping down to your bikini or boxers, you’ll pop on a skimpy robe and be invited to enter a steamy, warm room with a slab in the middle. You’ll lie down, your attendant will come at you with a soap-soaked sponge, and every inch of you will be cleansed – even between your toes. You’ll be rinsed with buckets of warm water, massaged, then towel-dried – seriously, it’s the most relaxing thing in the world.
However, the experience can vary – not every hammam will leave you feeling like you’ve just had the cleansing of a lifetime. Here are five of the best, so the next time you’re feeling a bit hot and stressed post-souk, head to one of these establishments…
Hammam Dar el-Bacha
If you’re a lady travelling alone or with a group of women, Hammam Dar el-Bacha should be your first port of call. Not only is it the largest in the city, but it’s the public hammam of choice for women, who get prime afternoon/evening hours here. Look out for the striking architectural features – there are star-shaped vents in the domed ceiling.
If you like to get close to royalty, this is the place to do it – this is the hammam where staff and servants from the nearby Dar el Bacha palace would scrub up. It has no website address, social media links or phone, but you should be fine if you just drop by. There are also no card machines, so you’ll have to pay in cash.
20 Rue Fatima Zohra
This gay-friendly spa offers a, quite frankly, bewildering choice of treatments – so if you love your smellies, it’s the perfect hammam for you. Situated in the famous Bab Doukkala district in the medina of Marrakech, Heritage Spa is a marvellous choice for couples and families. All of the products used are organic, and crafted from local argan oil.
The staff here take relaxation so seriously that you can even enjoy a tailor-made ‘care programme’ that’ll ensure you leave looking (and smelling) like a million dollars.
40, Arset Aouzal, Bab Doukkala
If you can’t get enough of essential oils, this is the place for you. The attentive staff here specialise in clay masks and crushed rose petal and geranium oil massages, which will leave you smelling, well, heavenly. A traditional hammam session with black soap and a kessa body scrub lasts 30 minutes and will set you back around 200 Dh, but for ultimate luxury, give the Royal Hammam a go.
It includes a kessa body scrub, a honey body masque, and an argan oil body modelage (whatever that means, but we bet it’s nice, and leaves you feeling very silky). Expect to part with 450 Dh for 45 minutes of luxury.
Derb Assehbi, Marrakesh 40000
This hammam is one of the city’s first private hammams, and remains one of the best, as it’s popular with tourists and locals alike. The owners even make their own beauty products for use in the spa – if that’s not dedication, we don’t know what is. Creator Kader Boufraine wanted to create a place where he would recreate the friendly atmosphere that he experienced in the hammams he visited as a child, and he’s done a rather fine job.
This hammam offers double massage rooms and duo baths, so if you’re with a friend, family member or partner, you can experience the first-rate services together. Les Bains de Marrakech’s own products are worth splurging out on – their skin creams and scented candles are lush.
2 Derb Sedra, Bab Agnaou, Kasbah
For some serious relaxation that comes with a price, head to the hammam at Amanjena. We’ll be blunt – it’s the best place to go if you’re after the ultimate luxurious experience. It’s around five miles outside of Marrakesh, so it won’t be a quick walk away, but the expansive spa and tiled hammam make the journey worth it.
It’s the skilled therapists at Amanjena that make the experience, and you can rest assured that only the best are working within their walls. Here is the place to enjoy steam baths, a glassed-in whirlpool and a full range of treatments, from massages and manicures to pedicures and facials. Don’t miss the fantastic Thai restaurant on-site; their food is unforgettable, and the perfect way to refuel to get you ready to hit the souks again.
Let us know if you have ever tried a hammam or traveled to Marrakesh in the comments below.
Written by Vicky Anscombe and originally posted on A Luxury Travel Blog.