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Public Hammam

Hammam

A hammam (a type of steam bath) is a fun and relaxing experience, although it does have its own (sometimes unwritten) rules of etiquette.

Before your Hammam

Men and Women take their Hammam separately. They will either be in different rooms, or available for different times of the day.

You should take normal bathing items with you: soap, shampoo, razor, brush, scrubbing mitt and towel. Put them in a bag that you will hand over at the counter.

You will need dark underwear while in the Hammam, and a dry pair to change into afterwards.

The public hammams cost about 5 dirhams for entrance, and you should also tip a few dirhams to the person who looks after your bag (About Moroccan currency).

Once in the Hammam you will collect hot and cold water in buckets (which are available at the Hammam, or you can take your own in case they are in short supply). You can then mix the buckets for temperature and pour them over yourself as you wash. A water scoop (a bowl) is helpful for this.

Hammam procedure

Pay your entrance fee, you will be given a ticket.

Find a space in the dressing area for yourself and undress down to your underpants. Remove your equipment from your bag, except for the towel, and replace with your clothing. Hand the bag to the counter staff with your ticket and a tip. The staff will remember you and return the bag after the hammam.

If you didn't bring your own buckets, take a few from the pile. It is normal to wash them out well when you reach the hot water.

Inside the Hammam find a space against the wall, the temperature will vary in the rooms depending on how far you are from the hot water; the area around the hot water can get crowded. The floors are sloped to drain the water so stay uphill in a well drained area.

Keep your space by setting your belongings out around you, take your buckets to the water tanks and scoop up hot water into one, and cold into the other, return back to your area.

In the Hammam

Exactly how you enjoy your time in the Hammam is your personal preference, the basic technique includes

  1. Rinse with clear hot water
  2. Wait while the heat softens your skin and you sweat.
  3. Using the rough mitt scrub away the dead skin using hard pressure. No soap is required, and do not rinse until the skin is coming off. If you are alone, you can ask someone to scrub your back, but do ask them to not rub too hard (say 'shuya') if you are not used to it.
  4. Once you have scrubbed, wash with the soap.
  5. Wash your hair and, if required, shave
  6. Rinse again

An employee of the Hammam may offer to scrub you, in return for a few dirhams. Be aware that this may be more 'extreme' than you are used to, particularly for the men.

After the Hammam

Empty your buckets and return to the dressing room and collect your clothing. Dry off and get dressed - it is appropriate to cover yourself with your towel while changing your underwear.