I did it. I bared all to be pampered like a princess and bathed like a baby. And I liked it.
Marrakesh Must-dos for a Girl’s Day Out are what I call the 3 Ss–souk shopping, Jemaa el- Fnaa Square, and a scrub. By- day the largest market in Africa hops with henna and monkeys and snakes, Oh My. And by- night, pop up food stands serve with a shake (aka) belly dancers. But to really Go Moroccan, after a day of dodging noisy motorcycles, pushy peddlers, and some pungent smells, globe trotters can wash away a world of care.
For locals through the ages, public bathhouses, like those found in Turkey and Rome, are places to steam to release steam weekly. Those covered head-to-toe on the street disrobe and socialize here, but for those too shy to go public with strangers, private spas and hotels are ways to test the waters.
My first two hammams were with three friends at two different private spas. While those experiences were good, this Goldilocks found the third bed at my last close encounter—the slab of stone on which the washing takes place—to be just right. It’s not surprising that at Royal Mansour, a luxurious mini medina of private riads built by king’s decree, one will receive royal treatment. The spa is open to the public for those wanting to splurge.
Up to a party of six can receive hammams simultaneously. I went solo, but a party it was nevertheless. Whether your fantasy is to be Jasmine preparing for Aladdin in Arabian Nights, or a mom, who after years of bathing little ones and watching the Disney version gets to rediscover her own child within, letting go under waves of water is wonderful.
First I was given a plush robe and slippers to walk from the dressing room to the entrance of the hammam across the hall. At the cold pool where the hammam begins and ends, the attendant took the robe from my shoulders and led me to a warm, king-sized slab of stone. She filled a silver bucket of water from a beautiful basin, poured it on me, and left me to stretch out and steam.
Next, she lathered me with black soap and olive oil, sabon beldi, and left me as my skin became more supple for what was to come. Slippery like a seal or mermaid, I waited, till it was time for her to scrub off my scales.
She untied a gold bag that contained an exfoliating glove or kese. She told me to turn over and sanded my back side from scalp to heels, then my front side from forehead to toes, taking layers of peeled skin till silk was exposed underneath. Next she covered me in local Argan oil with honey from the Maroc Maroc line. On my face she used a mix of Argan oil and powder. I was rubbed with aromatic Vallée des Roses cream, and on my hair she used almond shampoo, then an orange masque for conditioner. More buckets of warm water.
We walked back toward the frigid pool for a final dip, but first she instructed me to take a tepid shower with multiple nozzles. Wrapping me in the robe, she led me to the “relaxing room” where I had my own tented bed to sip mint tea served by the waiter. Or was he just a dream?
Like Scarlet O’Hara at the Wilkes’ picnic, I was encouraged to nap. Unlike her I obeyed. Outside my curtain, birds sang about the balcony. After my rest, I sat by the pool and thought about how good it felt to feel be like a little girl again. Arms raised and lowered to be dressed and undressed. Back massaged, and my hair caressed. I left smelling of oranges, roses, and almonds. And feeling pretty.
Thank you, Royal Mansour, for the invitation to tour your haven and for the hammam. Indeed, the experience was a whole new world.