- JoAnn Gustave
Authentic Hammam experience in Fes
Updated: May 28, 2020
Before arriving in Morocco, I knew there was one thing on my to-do-list that I wouldn't miss for the world, besides all the food I was going to eat of course, the Hammam experience! So after what seemed like a whole day of walking in the Medina, six of us decided to take the plunge.
A Hammam otherwise know as a Turkish bath is a place of public bathing focusing on relaxation through water. I had done some research online prior to my arrival and even contacted a few spas about pricing and different options available to us. If you are as investigative as I am when you plan a trip, you may have daydreamt about all the fabulous hammams that pop up on Instagram with the #heaven or #besthammamintheworld. Just like you, I was saving to get that perfect shot to share it with you all.
After speaking to our tour guide, he convinced me that if I wanted to experience the real thing, I should go to a facility where the locals go.
He gave us a few options and we picked The Nausikaa Spa, a fairly new and spotless venue in Fes.
The girl at the reception was very friendly and helped us book our sessions then showed us to the locker room. We all picked the same treatment (Hammam Nausikaa) which was basically the everything option priced at 180 dh roughly $20 USD. Twenty dollars for a spa treatment! Who wouldn't?
As soon as we went down the stairs to the locker room, we were given robes and all the necessities for our treatment: black soap, sponge and shampoo. We were then ushered to a waiting area where they stripped us of our phones and that is when the real fun began.
First of all the locker room attendant spoke no English or French, which is widely spoken in Morocco. She was very strict with us but I knew that it was the language barrier that bothered her. No one likes to be bothered by tourists, especially when they are loud and don't understand you. We were pretty loud I must say. We were just excited and eager to begin our treatments.
After about ten to twenty minutes in the waiting room, we were taken down to the treatment room by the attendant where we removed our clothes and were left with only our bikini bottoms. We were then led to a sauna room together, and had no clue what was coming.
If anyone had any insecurities about their bodies, this was not the place to be. We all looked at each other after a while and started laughing. Something about that moment felt so liberating.
All of us in a room so hot we thought we had descended into hell and no one could tell us what to do. I finally walked out and grabbed a lady by the hand and pulled her in the steam room and just like you do when you play Pictionary, mimed my confusion until I realized that we had to take a shower in the sauna. First we laughed then we joked about how we had gotten ourselves into this situation.
It must have been thirty minutes when the door reopened and we were handpicked by our "scrubbers". These ladies were fighting over us like I would with my sister over the big slice of pizza. The more meat we had on our bodies, the harder they would have to scrub. I am not big but being so tall, I could tell I wasn't exactly prime meat either.
We were then taken out to the marbles tables and scrubbed like the skin on our bodies had to come off. I don't know how they do it but I felt as though I'd been peeled of the first layer of my skin by the time my attendant was done with me. She did not miss one inch of my body, not one! After the scrubbing, she rinsed me off and gave me the most amazing shampoo wash I had in my life.
I peeped over to the two girls next to me and both had their eyes closed like they had slept through the whole thing.
After we were done with our massage, they had us take a dip in a cold jacuzzi, then shower off to go home. We all had a grin on our faces and everyone felt renewed and rejuvenated. It was sensational! Probably the second best thing I did on that trip after the night in the desert.
I know I could have gone to a fancy spa and taken pictures to get a few hundred likes on social media and boast about the experience to others with the perfect hashtag, but what I got in return was far more special than any amount of validation one might seek from others. So to you, booking your trip to Morocco as you are reading this post I say: go where the locals go. Follow the unusual path, do something that will be enriching to your soul.