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The Ultimate Luxury Hammam Spa Experience - Fes, Morocco

When I decided to go to Morocco, I was as excited as I was on my first visit. I was excited to explore new corners and dive deeper into the vibrant culture. This time, because it was my second visit to this country, I had my heart set on soaking up as many cultural experiences as possible. And a hammam topped my list? I wanted to experience a traditional hammam, a ritual that was relaxing and enlightening. So, let's dive in!

There are several nice Hammams in Fez at different price points and services. It will be my first hammam experience, so I chose a traditional but private luxury hammam in a palace. It was located on the opposite side of the Medina from where I was staying and way too far to walk, so I took a short walk from my riad inside the Medina to the Blue Gate (Bab Bou Jeloud) and took a 10-minute taxi ride. Check out my blog post, "Stepping through the Blue Gates," to understand the significance of this iconic architecture.

I was dropped off at a parking lot, walked up about 30 concrete stairs sandwiched between two tall buildings, arrived at the top, turned right, and walked a few steps before I arrived at the palace.

The Origin

Riad Courtyard

Before I share my hammam experience, let's discuss the origins of Hammam. Public bathhouses might be associated with Turkish and Roman cultures, but the traditional Moroccan Hammam is a unique experience. The ancient bathhouse rapidly grew in Islamic Moroccan culture with a few modifications that made it unique and different from others. Moroccan hammams are located near mosques to facilitate the purification of body and soul before prayer rituals. Another reason the traditional Moroccan Hammam grew in popularity is that water is an essential symbol of purification and cleanliness in Islam.

Let's Continue

I was standing at the palace entrance, where I was greeted by a set of beautiful, large wooden doors. I rang the doorbell and was escorted to the spa. Because I made reservations and paid weeks in advance, all I had to do was check in. Shortly afterward, I was presented with mint tea (Algerian mint tea) and cookies (Moroccan Almond Macaroon), which is genuine Moroccan hospitality. While I waited in the courtyard, I admired the garden. I listened to the waterfall, which is a hallmark of a Moroccan riad. I found myself relaxing mentally and physically, which was much needed. When I arrived at the palace, I had already been in the country for four days and enjoyed many activities.

It was time I was escorted through the courtyard and down a short, narrow hall that was dimly lighted and into a private room. I was shown a basket with a lid and key to stow away my valuables; a bathrobe, slippers (babouche), and a disposable thong were given to me. Then, I was asked if I wanted rose or argon oil, and I chose argon oil. I was left alone to undress, to put on a soft and plush robe, and put on my slippers. A female scrubber (Kessala) retrieved me and led me down two flights into an even dimmer hall. Then, the entrance to a steamed-filled room where I had to disrobe, take off my slippers, and sit on a bench. Now fully nude, the scrubber rubbed clay (Rhassoul) into my hair, which was tough because I had braids, so I asked her to focus on the front of my hair.

Afterward, the scrubber escorted me into another steam-filled room (sauna) with benches and a large, beautiful Moroccan ceramic water fountain. The scrubber doused me with water by dipping a brass bucket into the fountain and pouring the warm water from my chest and back several times.

Lunch setting after hammam
Lunch setting after hammam

Afterward, she motioned me to the bench, which had what looked like a yoga mat on it—probably to prevent me from slipping on the benches. While lying on my back, the scrubber unwrapped a "bath glove." Then, she dipped her hand with the glove into a black soap mixture (olive oil and macerated olives) and began scrubbing EVERY part and corner of my front side from my neck to my toes, and the same while I lay on my belly. Afterward, I was left alone in the room to relax, detox, and be with my thoughts for at least 20 minutes.

She returned to the room and motioned me to the water fountains. She filled the brass bucket with water and poured it over my body several times. Then she walked me to the bench, sprayed the glove because it was covered with black soap, and asked that I lay down again on my back as she began rubbing Argon oil on every ounce of my body. Again left me in the room alone for thirty minutes. By the end of the thirty minutes, I was deep in sweat. The scrubber entered, rinsed the oils off my body for the final time, and led me to the shower, where I could wash the clay out of my hair.

Oh, it isn't over. After my shower, I was escorted upstairs, where my things were kept. I disrobed and lay on the massage table for my 40-minute deep tissue massage with Aragon oil. Needless to say, I fell asleep, but when I woke up, I had never felt so clean and relaxed. To end my luxury hammam experience, I was dressed and treated to an elegant and tasteful Moroccan lunch.

Moroccan lunch
Moroccan lunch

In the end, I felt refreshed, and with nine days left for my Moroccan vacation, I was ready to continue as if I had just landed. But being a part of a centuries-old Moroccan tradition was a privilege and an activity I will repeat.

Be sure to check out my YouTube channel for even more Moroccan experiences.


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