Hamam – the bathroom of the Moroccans


Hamam the “bathroom of the Moroccans”

The Moroccan hammam ritual is not as differentiated as the Turkish one, but worth an experience that should not be missed.
There are two types of hammam: the tourist hammam, which costs around € 35 for a one-hour visit, and the “neighborhood hamams” frequented by the locals who sometimes have no bathroom in-house to wash tehmselfs. Here is the entrance about 1 €, but you should already know how everything works and bring your own utensils with you.
The hammams are always strictly separated by gender. Large hammams have completely separate entrances and areas for women and men. Smaller hammams with only one hammam area are usually open to women during the day and are open to the men from evening to late at night.

A good hammam has four areas: the reception and locker room area and three differently hot rooms, where everything is done exclusively on the floor, which is more or less heated by a hypocaust system. The hottest room is always the last under which the hearth is, which is fed from the outside (always with wood).

Behavior in the Hamam:

Discretion in the locker room and hammam area is paramount, especially among men! You should never show yourself completely naked. You always keep your underpants or swimming trunks on and I wrap a towel around your stomach when changing clothes! Surprisingly, women are much more relaxed. At best they keep a panty but are mostly naked. For tourists, it is a very special experience to go to a real neighbourhood-hamam, because here you can communicate woman to women, which is otherwise hardly possible in Morocco. However, most women do not speak French or English, and communication is mostly non-verbal. It is best if you go with a friend. We are happy to organize a Moroccan lady from our riad to accompany our women during the ritual. For women, it usually takes two hours, men can do it in an hour.

What you have to take with you:
Towel, a plastic ladle (you can also use a bowl that you can cut out of the bottom of a large plastic water bottle), a packet of Savon Noir (olive soap paste, which you get everywhere for a Dirham in the souks ), Flip-flops, a scratchy rubbing glove you get for a maximum of 10 dirhams in most corner shops (boutique) around the corner and your own shower and hair shampoo. A bag or backpack to store your clothes.

Procedure of the Hamam ritual:

You enter the entrance area and undress (discreetly!) Except for the underpants, stowed your clothes in your bag and give it to the hammam guard who stows it in a box that is lockable in rare cases. It would be very unusual if something was stolen, but I do not take any valuables or cell phone with me. The towel can be hung in front of the entrance of the wet rooms. Here is also usually a toilet. Equipped with two large buckets, which are provided by the hammam, rubbing gloves, olive soap, your own ladle and your own shampoo you then go to the last, hottest room, fill the bucket with hot water as sutable for you (you get the hot water mostly from a basin and add cold or mix the water from taps). Now you look for a free space on the ground and clean it with some loads of water that you take with the ladle from its bucket. Now you take a seat on the floor and pour hot water over your body and start to sweat. After a few minutes you rub the whole body with the olive paste (attention: do not to get it in the eyes – it strongly burns!!!) and let the soap work on your body. After some time (if it gets too hot you can also switch to the middle room) scrub the whole body (exept the face) with the scratchy glove vigorously, again and again! Usually you are visiting the hamam with a friend or you can always find someone who scrubs your back. After this “gommage” rinse the soap carefully – always with the ladle – from the bodyand have a short rest. You can also lie down on the warm ground. Towards the end, you wash your hair and body with your own shampoo and shave – possibly even wet. When washing, make sure that the genital area is always covered by the pants. You can refill the buckets over and over again. Nevertheless, water is precious and one should not waste it although the Moroccans often handle it very generously. I like to spend the last few minutes in the coolest room, near the exit and when I’m overheated, I pour cold water over my body.

After leaving the wet area you dry off, get the clothes bag and dress – always under cover of the intimate area – and pay at the exit. With a ticket price of 10-12 dirhams you should tip the hamam guard 5 Dirham as a tourist.

In our neighborhood we have an excellent hammam for men, who has come up with something useful for tourists or hammam beginners: for 100 dirhams you get a large towel and the entire hammam equipment including olive soap and the “gommage” with the olive depth and Wash with your own shampoo. For an extra charge, there is even a massage. Compared to the tourist hamams this is very cheap and has the advantage of experiencing a real local hammam. The masseur should then be given a tip of about 20 dirhams. We are happy to organize this, as well as the visit to the hammam for women. However, the woman-hamam in our immediate neighborhood is one of the most archaic in Marrakech and triggers a wide variety of reactions from “The best and most exiting I experienced in Morocco” to “It was a bit too basic for me”. For our female spa guests with sophisticated wellness requirements, we can also organize an individual visit to the Hamam in a nearby Dreamriad for about 45 €.

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