Whilst I was in Marrakech on my last visit I tried a Moroccan hammam.  I didn’t exactly know what was involved, but I heard the word ‘spa’ bandied about and a nice relaxing afternoon after hours in the hot souks was just what the doctor ordered. Little did I know.

Here’s the story of my hammam hell…

spaI checked into a traditional hammam and on arrival was greeted by a rather scary-looking woman with an angry face who guided me lazily to the changing rooms. She handed me a bag (all the while managing to look pissed off at my existence) while I peered nervously inside. It contained a towel the size of my palm and the most enormous pair of paper knickers I have ever witnessed; the kind that even Bridget Jones would object to.

Pointedly, she insisted that I remove all my clothes and put them on. Due to my distinct lack of a grip on the Arabic language this whole charade was a series of grunting and pointing. I tried to insinuate that it might be quite nice to keep my bikini top on, but BOY did this fuck her off. Not wanting to offend, I slipped into the changing rooms and obliged.

A few minutes later, I emerged, stark bloody naked, in this pair or enormous paper pants that hid nothing. I looked like a grown up Rugrat. As the scary, grunting lady lead me down the corridor I decided I was more than a little terrified by this ‘luxurious spa’ experience so far. I was taken into a round steam chamber, directed toward  a pot of what I’m pretty sure was just brown jelly (used to lubricate hinges, that sort of thing) and it was demonstrated that I should smear it all over my body.

So there I sat, alone and completely nude (plus enormous pants), covering myself in gunk. All the while, I couldn’t help but feel another guest might be slightly alarmed to enter the chamber and be presented with a giant naked Rugrat girl covered in jelly, wearing huge paper pants.

After fifteen minutes of cringing about my situation and attempting to shield my bits from view, I believe I experienced a Moroccan form of torture. It consisted of the angry woman continuously refilling a bucket of ice cold water and then chucking (not pouring, chucking ) it over my head and directly into my face.

Spluttering, I was finally directed to a bed covered in plastic. As I lay down I realised the wetness of my skin combined with the jelly-like lubricant it was covered in made it rather hard to stay on board! My skin was scrubbed until it was red raw whilst I slid about like a slug on a water slide.

I eventually managed to extract myself from the situation claiming I needed the loo. A bystander would have watched a petit naked woman wearing a giant nappy running away from a fiercely pissed off Moroccan woman, Hammam scrubs still in her hands.

Worst part of it all? Bitch scrubbed off my tan.



  1. Adelina | PackMeTo June 3, 2014 / 5:00 pm

    I’ve heard so many interesting (aka horrific) stories of hammam experiences. I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to try it! I’ll need one of those luxury experiences for sure.

    • harriet June 4, 2014 / 8:39 am

      Don’t put yourself through it Adelina! Make sure you find somewhere nice! x

  2. Sammi Wanderlustin' June 2, 2014 / 6:23 pm

    Hiya, came across from Sunday Traveler!

    This post made me laugh out loud, very literally. It’s a good scrub in the hammam’s, no?

    • harriet June 3, 2014 / 12:13 pm

      They’re certainly thorough with the scrubbing yes Sammi! Thanks for stopping by, glad you enjoyed hearing about my suffering 🙂 x

  3. Carmen June 2, 2014 / 2:38 pm

    This made me laugh! Sounds similar to the experience we had. My husband and I were made to get naked and then two women scrubbed us down at the same time. It was rather awkward. But then the massage that followed was pure bliss, so I forgave them 🙂

    • harriet June 2, 2014 / 4:47 pm

      Haha so awkward Carmen! At least you were together to laugh about it, I sat there just cringing to myself! x

  4. Molly S June 2, 2014 / 2:23 pm

    Horrible to experience – but so funny to read! I’ve never been to a hammam. Hope you find a nicer one this time around!

    • harriet June 2, 2014 / 4:42 pm

      Ha hope my post has tempted you Molly! I will certainly try and find something nicer… 🙂 x

  5. Corinne June 2, 2014 / 12:14 pm

    I love a hamam…but I’ve only been to Turkish ones, and I have to admit each one has its idiosyncrasies. Hilarious post!

    • harriet June 2, 2014 / 4:42 pm

      Thanks Corinne! Did I have a rogue grumpy person or are hammamers normally that angry at the world?! x

  6. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 1, 2014 / 6:36 pm

    Oh dear!! Poor you – what a drama! I have to agree with Lauren though – it was really funny to read! 😀 So at least you’ve been able to see the funny side of it! Hope you get a proper pampering day soon!

    • harriet June 1, 2014 / 7:25 pm

      Thanks Shikha! In retrospect it is hilarious, at the time it was more of a laugh or cry situation haha. Glad you enjoyed it 🙂 x

  7. Lauren June 1, 2014 / 5:21 pm

    What a dreadful experience! It is kind of funny to read about, I will admit, although I feel really bad for you! I hope you can look back and laugh at the situation now, and hopefully can find a much better place in the future! That angry lady sounds terrifying!

    • harriet June 1, 2014 / 7:24 pm

      Ah Lauren she was frightening! So angry at the world. The force with which she hurled the ice cold water at me was really quite alarming, although I was totally cracking up at how hilariously awful the whole thing was! x

  8. Esther June 1, 2014 / 8:21 am

    Hahahaha! I just posted a blog about visited a hammam in Marrakech. Mind you, I went to one of the luxury hammams (= especially made for tourists, I know I know). And still I was a bit like: hm, should you be scrubbing me everywehere… yikes! However, the plusside of the luxury hammams is that the staff is uberfriendly and you don’t feel so horrible 😉

    (Found you through #SundayTraveler)

    • harriet June 1, 2014 / 7:22 pm

      Haha where did you go Esther you have to tell me so I don’t repeat my horrendous experience! I am clearly just not tough enough! xx

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