How to Visit a Traditional Moroccan Hamam
The word Haman is an Arabic word meaning ‘spreader of warmth’. These closed areas for bathing originated in Turkey during the 14th century. The Seljuk bath, located in Armenia, is thought to be the first Haman building of Anatolia. This bath culture has been transferred from generation to generation and is still with us today. After soaking in the warmth and steam of the Hamam, the bather can use special soaps and oils to cleanse the body, draw out toxins, and soothe the skin.
When you are in Morocco a visit to a Traditional Moroccan Hamam is a must. There are however certain etiquettes to adhere to. If you follow these guidelines, you will have and fun and an relaxing experience.
Firstly, men and women take their Hamam separately. There may be different rooms to go to, or men and women may take them at different times of the day. It is useful thus, to check beforehand to see which rules apply to the Hamam you are visiting. You should take your normal bathing items with you. These should all be contained in a bag, as you will be asked to hand them over at the counter when you arrive. You will also need dark underwear with you while in the Hamam, and a dry pair to change into afterwards. Also, when you enter you will be asked to pay around 5 Dirhams for entrance and be given an entry ticket. You should also tip a few Dirhams to the person at the counter.
Enter the dressing area and get undressed down to your underpants. Keep your towel in your bag and put all your clothes in. Hand your bag in with your ticket and you are ready to go in.
Once in the Hamam, you will collect hot and cold water in buckets. You can mix the hot and cold water to suit your own temperature and pour them over yourself as you wash. Find a space against the wall and you can surround your belongings around you to give yourself a bit of space. The temperature will vary from how far away you are from the hot water.
It is best to first rinse with clear hot water, to wait till the heat softens your skin and then using a rough mitt, scrub away the dead skin. Wash with soap afterwards and then rinse again. An employee of the Hamam may offer to scrub you for a few Dirhams. Just remember, that they may be a little rougher scrubbing than you would be.
After your Hamam, empty your buckets, collect your clothing and get changed. It is appropriate to cover up with a towel when changing your underwear.
A Hamam is an excellent way to distress, reduce tension and relax. Hippocrates stated ‘Give me the power to create a fever and I shall cure any disease’. The steam raises your body temperature above normal, which stimulates the immune system to increase production of antibodies and interferon. This is the reason why you have the feeling of total well-being and relief after you have been for a Hamam. The benefits can also include pain relief, muscle relaxation and removal of toxins from the body.
If you have a medical condition or any concerns about using a Hamam, it is advisable to consult with your doctor before your trip to Morocco. It would also be advisable about checking policy on children entering the Hamams if you have your family with you. You should be able to access a public Hamam where ever you are in Morocco, as they are part of the ritual of relaxation and well-being, which is intrinsical to the Moroccan way of life.
There are also a number of different varieties, ranging from the basic Hamam to the most luxurious, offering a range of oils and soaps to enrich and benefit your skin and body. Consult with the hotel or accommodation you are staying with to find out the range available. It is even possible to experience a sand bath, which has been developed around Tinfou and Merzouga in the Draa Valley.
To feel the full benefits of going to a Hamam, it is best to go more than once. It is one of the most wonderful, relaxing and deeply cleansing experiences. The whole body sense of well-being is truly magnificent. This will also have a positive impact on your stay in Morocco, as you will feel refreshed and full of energy to visit the other wonderful places of interest.