I remember the day I discovered the joys of the hammam. I was in Turkey and finally worked up enough courage to venture into the dimly lit steam bath, not speaking any Turkish other than please (“lute-fen”) and thank you (“tash-a-kur”), and having virtually no idea of what to expect.
I’m not sure I found that first experience relaxing … I was too attuned to the process, what was expected of me, and trying to anticipate what would come next. Oh, and a little uncomfortable being starkers in front of strangers.
But 13 years later, I am a hammam expert and addict. Turkish hammams are still my very favourite (I love being enrobed in the whip cream-like soap bubbles!), but my recent trip to Tunisia and Morocco had me appreciating the north African style as well. Lucky me — in the Tunisian hotels I was writing about, I was treated to a hammam every two or three days!
Have you been tempted by the hammam, but not yet gone because you’re feeling a touch nervous? Read my latest article about what to expect in a hammam, for the wellness website Nanuism, The hammam: A different sort of spa day.
Plus, soon to come, an article about my experience in a locals-only hammam in Marrakech, Morocco. No fluffy robes or soothing spa music, but some surprising insights into Muslim modesty and community.
Have you been to a hammam in another country? Was it different from the ones I describe?
And Canadians, did you know that there is a 98% authentic Turkish hammam in Winnipeg (of all places?!). I say 98% authentic because they have spa-ified up a few elements. I yearn for the day my plane is diverted to Winnipeg and I have nothing to do but hang out at the Ten Spa‘s hammam in the Fort Garry Hotel…
Thinking about a spa holiday? Here’s a photo essay, Spa seeking: Spa hotels around the world, to inspire your next trip and some advice to help you plan (for Nanusim, featuring: Morocco, Laos, Peru, Tunisia, Ecuador, and Indonesia).