A LOCAL Moroccan Hamman In Essaouira | (What to EXPECT!)

Morocca - Exploring street of Essaouira

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What do you think when you hear ‘Moroccan Hamman‘ or do you not know what it is? Before my trip to Morocco, I hadn’t heard of a Hamman but that never stops me from trying something new. In short, a traditional Moroccan Hamman is a hot steam bath, followed by a massage. Sounds straightforward, doesn’t it!

But there’s a little more to it, as I found out when I visited my first public Hamman in Essaouira, on the west coast of Morocco.

After leaving the craziness of Marrakech behind I arrived at my hostel in Essaouira. One of the Moroccan guys who worked at the hostel recommended visiting a Hamman. I had heard about them since arriving in Morocco and I am always up for trying out new experiences.

I honestly had no idea what it really involved but after experiencing my first Hamman it wouldn’t stop me from doing it again. Next time it will be nice to know what is going to happen!

In fact, I’m back in Morocco in December for a winter hiking trip in the Atlas Mountains. Ask me any questions in the comments below.

Moroccan Hamman – Top Tips

Moroccan Hamman Essaouira Experience - streets in Essaouira

Arriving at the Moroccan Hamman Essaouira

After walking through the windy streets of Essaouira, one of the best cities to visit in Morocco, we arrive at a door, a lady appears and the guy from the hostel says a few words then disappears. This is a ‘Women only‘ Hamman so the front door is as far as he is allowed. Now I really wish I had learnt a bit more French before arriving in Morocco. I don’t think, ‘Où est la boulangerie?’ (Where is the bakery?) is going to help me in this situation.

I have no idea what she is now saying to me. And unsure whether I am supposed to be getting undressed or not? Eventually, she gets someone from outside to translate what she is saying. ‘Do I want a scrub, massage and a bath?’  Well, of course, I opted for everything, I wanted the full Moroccan Hamman experience.

‘Do I want a scrub, massage and a bath?’  Well, of course, I opted for everything.

Moroccan Hamman – What to wear?

Firstly, to set the scene, I am in a small room with stone walls and a low curved ceiling. It could have been an old dungeon, with huge metal chains hanging from the wall. Now, this might be obvious if you have been to a Moroccan Hamman before. I wasn’t too sure what to wear so I opt for my bikini. I sit nervously on the wooden bench wondering what is going to happen next.

A few minutes later she is back, wearing a pair of huge knickers and a bright purple scarf tying her hair up, that is all. I point at my bikini top, yep that’s coming off. Not a time to be shy!

Moroccan Hamman Essaouira Experience - streets of Essaouira

Moroccan Hamman – Here We Go!

She smiles and takes my hand guiding me through the wooden door, the hinge turns out to be another huge chain. It’s a small room with a tiled floor and ledge to sit on. I can hear loads of banging going on next door but have no idea what is going on. The Hamman feels very medieval with all the rusty fixtures and fittings on the wall.

She starts by soaping me all over, chatting away in French. I do my best to reply but I can’t seem to remember anything except ‘C’est bon, c’est bon’. Then disappears into the room next door and comes back with a bucket of lovely hot water which she throws over me. Oh, I wasn’t expecting that. Well, I am clean now or so I think!

Essaouira - Morocco (5)

Scrubbing Time at the Moroccan Hamman

Next, the scrubbing begins, it’s very ferocious and she puts all her body weight into it. She is very methodical, using the exfoliating glove first on my arms and legs. Then I’m instructed to lie face down on the tiled floor.

She is scrubbing so hard I can see her boobs swinging back and forwards. She’s definitely more than a double D, that’s all I’m going to say!

Now the one and only thing I was told, was not to have a shower beforehand. This particular day I had travelled via Supratours Bus from Marrakesh and been exploring Essaouira town, which meant plenty of sun cream had been applied along with some sweat, nice!!

It is now, whilst lying practically naked on a tiled floor I have that embarrassing moment. She is doing some serious scrubbing, it feels like layers of skin are coming off and all she keeps saying ‘whoa’, not just once but over and over again. I am not really sure what to say, so I smile and nervously laugh. That always works when you have a language barrier.

Then I am lying on my side, the scrubbing continues. She is scrubbing so hard I can see her boobs swinging back and forwards. She’s definitely more than a double D, that’s all I’m going to say! It’s a very surreal image, I am not really sure where I am supposed to look!

Are you visiting Marrakesh? Read my Marrakesh Guide including tips for solo female travellers

Essaouira - Morocco (20)
Essaouira Town made famous by Games of Thrones

What’s in the Hamman Room Next Door?

After the scrubbing has finished, it feels like an hour at least. I am lead into the room where all the banging has been coming from. I am pleasantly surprised to see about 6 other women and a little girl sat with buckets of water and scrubbing themselves. The banging had been coming from the buckets being thrown around.

The Hammam is an important part of Moroccan culture. In Essaouira and other cities, Moroccan’s visit their local Hammam at least once a week spending a good couple of hours there. Unlike when they are out in public, the Moroccan Hamman is the complete opposite and the women are far from shy with each other Catching up on gossip with their friends, and following the long rituals for cleansing their bodies until their skin glows. They will usually go with their friends or family, both to chat and socialise, but also to help each other with the ritual.

I’m given a few bowls of lovely hot water so I can wash my hair. Then back on the tiled floor whilst she gives me a massage and then does some stretching.

Finally, back into the room, I started in. I have my very small travel towel, it’s about the size of a tea towel. She finds that very funny. Well, I am glad I can provide some entertainment.

Check out these Quick dry, lightweight travel towels

Feeling refreshed after my first Moroccan Hamman Essaouira - Morocco
Feeling refreshed after my first Moroccan Hamman

The Moroccan Hamman is something I could definitely get used to on a regular basis. I can honestly say I feel totally refreshed, my skin feels amazing so smooth, I can’t stop stroking my arm!! This 2-hour experience only cost me Dh120* ($12) and I got to keep the exfoliating glove. Make sure you add this to your list of things to do in Essaouira.

Becky’s Tips for your First Moroccan Hamman

  • Remember to take with you bikini bottoms (of course, you can go without if you want to), a towel, shampoo and conditioner.
  • Leave your valuables at the hostel/hotel. As you guessed this is not a place for cameras.
  • Don’t worry about showering before you go.
  • And lastly, try not to be too self-conscious, this is the Moroccan way so enjoy it 🙂

*Price correct at time of writing

Do you have any more questions about my Hammann in Essaouira? Ask me any questions in the comments or send me a message via my Facebook page.

Further Reading on Morocco

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Moroccan Hamman Essaouira Experience - harbour in Essaouira
First Moroccan Hamman Essaouira
First Moroccan Hamman Essaouira - harbour at Essaouira

*Becky the Traveller participates in the Amazon Services Associates Programme, as well as other affiliate programmes. If you make a purchase through these, I earn from the qualifying links. This is at no extra cost to you. Read more here.

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18 thoughts on “A LOCAL Moroccan Hamman In Essaouira | (What to EXPECT!)

  1. Annebeth says:

    Great post! Essaouira is a super relaxed place. Better than Marakesch! ;p I’d love to do a Hamman, unfortunately we got lost in the dunes (long story) so there was no time..

    • Becky the Traveller says:

      Ah yes I totally agree, I had 2 days in Marrakech and that was enough for me. Essaouira was a great place just to wander around and relax. That sounds like an interesting story. Hopefully you will get to go back to Morocco and experience one another trip 🙂

  2. Kelly Duhigg says:

    I love this post and when you say she was a double d. I felt like this when I went to my first spa in South Korea. Everyone was nude and I just went with it!

  3. Jen says:

    Oh my gosh! I went to Morocco in 2014 and we went through much the same experience except we didn’t go to a public bath, so you got quite a deal! Nevertheless, the $30US was way cheaper than the $180 it costs to get a hammam in Toronto! We had an Hammam early in our trip & after we got over the initial surprise, we couldn’t wait to do it again and actually had another before we left Morocco, also in Essaouira. Both times our ‘technician” (?) was clothed in a scrub-like outfit, so we missed the full experience by the sounds of it!

  4. Kiara Gallop says:

    This post made me giggle! I’m afraid I’m very typically British and super reserved when it comes to getting topless in front of others. But the idea of a hamman (and also an Onsen in Japan) really intrigues me. And I do like the idea of a massage afterwards 🙂

  5. Julia says:

    That sounds like such an interesting experience! I’ve never heard of Moroccan Hamman before, but I’m interested in experiencing it for myself now!

  6. Lici says:

    Wow I loved this blog! You made me crack up and it was useful info. I will be going to visit Marrakech next month so I glad I ran into your blogs. Thanks and keep up the good work!

  7. Siawwei says:

    Nice experience & info about Hamman! I’m in Marrakech and going to Essaouria tomorrow, properly would be nice to give a try, but I’m
    Nervous! Can I opt to keep my underwear on? And do you remember the name of the Hamman?

    • Becky the Traveller says:

      Hi Siawwei, I’m pretty sure you could keep your bikini top on if you weren’t comfortable. The Hamman I visited was very traditional, in fact, I don’t think tourist generally went there, I got lucky and had an introduction from a guy at the hostel I was staying in. There wasn’t a name, it was pretty much like walking in someone’s house! Have a lovely time, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it 🙂

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