How to hammam: get soaped and sloshed the right way


How to hammam: get soaped and sloshed the right way

From paper panties to bordering-on-violent exfoliation, our awkwardness-avoiding etiquette guide to bath time in Marrakech

Sarah Jappy

BY Sarah Jappy20 July 2019

If you’ve never been lathered, scrubbed, rub-a-dub-dubbed, dunked in hot water, shoved in a steam room, flayed with a loofah, attacked with North African black soap, shampooed and massaged all over – we do mean *all* over – with argan oil, then you’ve never truly been clean. Don’t worry, dirty ones: all you need to do is book a trip to Marrakech, rock up at a hammam and follow these five tips…

Hammam at Palais Namaskar, Marrakesh, Morocco


You’re not hammam-ing as you should be unless you do it authentically. If the masseuse looks unimpressed and offers you disposable paper pants, you’re in the right place. Keep in mind, this isn’t the typical spa soak you might be used to at home.


Shortly after arriving at your hammam, you will be expected to strip naked and don a tiny, baggy paper thong (see above). The door to the changing room may well be left open so that anyone in reception gets the dubious pleasure of spying you in your birthday suit – embrace this.

Hammam at Riad de Tarabel - Mr & Mrs Smith


Don’t expect to be given any warning as to what will happen to you, or in what order. Hammams aren’t known for being a fount of conversational brilliance, which is a good thing, really – no hairdresser-style small talk while you’re being sudsed and rubbed. It’s not unusual to be left entirely to your own devices for lingering periods of time, but the basic order usually involves stripping naked, having a bucket of hot water dunked on your head, heating up in the steam room and then exfoliation followed by a massage. If you get bored, just wander vaguely into the next subterranean chamber – at some point you’ll be tended to.


You could be forgiven for assuming that the person exfoliating you has never seen a face they like less than yours when you experience the vigour with which they scrub you, but this isn’t the case. Traditional loofah mitts and the accompanying gritty soaps may have you tearing up with pain, but it will all be worth it when you see the (yes, slightly revolting) layers of skin being sloughed off with gay abandon.

Hammam at Selman, luxury hotel in Marrakach - Mr & Mrs Smith


Women: if you’ve never had a boob massage, that’s probably about to change. Men: don’t be perturbed if you have your feet tickled by your male attendant. Just lie back and think of England – resistance is futile.

For more squeaky-clean stays, check out our polished boutique hotels in Marrakech