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Friday, 2 May 2014 12:00 AM

Unusual Things to do in Morocco on Holiday - Go To A Moroccan Public Hammam

I have been to Morocco many times for work and play and, whilst I always enjoy wandering around a souk or medina and watching the world go past, I also look for unusual things to do to broaden my experiences.

Whilst the private hammams (steam room) are available in a number of the accommodations in Morocco and are a wonderful way to relax and sweat out any stresses that you have, a local public hammam is a completely different experience and I have done these a couple of times.

Public Hammam in Morocco

A public hammam is a series of steam rooms (akin to a Turkish steam bathhouse) where men or women go, often on a regular basis, for a deep and thorough clean. Hammams are segregated, so each local hammam will state (typically on a sign outside or just in the entrance) whether it is for men or women or, if there Is only one hammam in the locality, what times it is designated for men or women.

The hammam is more than just a place to get clean, it is part of the Moroccan culture where friends will chat and relax for a couple of hours, away from the stresses of the outside world. After the changing room (keeping on a bit of swimwear is your personal choice, but don’t be too bashful) are a number of connected hot rooms, some with taps for dousing and rinsing yourself and some for lying down, with locals scattered about relaxing or scrubbing themselves or their friend.

If you are alone you can pay for an attendant to do the scrubbing. Equally, if you have not come with a coarse scrubbing cloth/ glove and soap (the Moroccan soap is almost black and almost gel like) purchased in the souk earlier, you can normally buy the necessary kit as you enter and borrow a bucket.

If you have paid for an attendant to help with your scrubbing, they will lie you down in an appropriate room and then prepare yourself for virtually every inch of your body to be scrubbed until you think your skin can take no more, before you can move on to another room to find a space to lie down and recover.

It is an experience not to missed if you enjoy going local. Perhaps best done with a friend but with guidance/ introduction from your accommodation (language may be an issue if you don’t have such initial help) it is certainly something you can do alone – once an attendant is clued up on your hammam virginity, they will take care of you (and strip your skin) and show you what to do and where to do it – all for a modest fee.

Unfortunately the deep-clean feeling won’t last long when you emerge outside again, but there’s always a second visit another day.