The Moroccan Bath House
For centuries, the community hammam—or bath house—has played an important role in Moroccan society. At its core, the traditional hammam visit provides locals with places to relax, cleanse the body, and ease sore muscles using a combination of heat, warm water, and cold plunge pools. Nourishing local ingredients and products like olive-based black soap, rhassoul clay, and essences of eucalyptus and orange blossom add to the transportive experience.
Equally important, though, is the neighborhood hammam’s role as a social institution where friends and family gather to reconnect and catch-up, both during the bathing circuit and afterwards, whether in the moucharabieh relaxation alcoves or over cups of mint tea. It’s not unusual to see three generations of a family enjoying the ritual together—a testament to the fact that, even in our hectic modern world, a visit to the hammam encourages us to slow down and follow an ancient example of self-care.
You’ll be cleansed with hot water then slathered with a black soap balm, followed by a body mask made of roses, clay, or saffron.
A Serene Sanctuary
For an upscale and private (but no less nourishing) version of this age-old ritual, visit the Spa Royal Mansour Marrakech, a standout in a city where spas abound. Centered around an elaborately-carved, natural light-filled atrium resembling a series of birdcages, the stunning, 27,000-square-foot facility houses 13 treatment rooms, an indoor swimming pool and Watsu bath area, a state-of-the-art gym, and rooms for yoga, pilates, and fitness workshops.
Tucked among the spaces are two hammams (separated by gender), each with hot, warm, and cold areas. Here, guests can enjoy the Private Custom Hammam treatment, a tailor-made session using personalized ingredients that is available for one to six bathers. The ritual begins in the first heated chamber, where you'll be cleansed with hot water then slathered with a black soap balm that stays on the skin for about 10 minutes. "No other soap can prepare the skin for exfoliation better than black soap, which is a natural paste made with black olives," says Spa Director Malika Rojhani. "It’s rich in Vitamin E and deep cleanses the skin, leaving it feeling revitalized and soft as silk."
A vigorous scrub using a traditional Kessa mitt comes next, followed by a body mask made at the spa using roses from the Kalaat M’gouna Valley, a gray-clay from the Atlas Mountains, or saffron from Taliouine, depending on your skin type. Next comes a truly special touch: While you are lying on the heated marble slabs waiting for the mask to absorb into the skin, a traditional musician will sing a few songs to further help you relax, and that evoke the historic aspect of the hammam experience. Finally, a dip in a cold plunge pool helps close the pores and encourage blood circulation, leaving you revived and ready for more Marrakech adventures.
To learn more about Royal Mansour Marrakech or the private hammam experience, please contact the concierge upon making a reservation.