Moroccan Hammam – Spa Ritual at Riad Farnatchi

When I planned my trip to Marrakech, I had two things on top of my list: finding Argan oil and indulging in a traditional spa experience. Argan oil is literally offered at every corner and Marrakech seems to have endless hammam and spa offerings. So the challenges left was buying organic oil at a well negotiated price and finding an organic spa that is luxurious yet traditional. So I was happy to find the Farnatchi Spa which uses the luxurious Ila Spa products as well as the premier local brand, Nectarome. Just having freshly arrived in Marrakech, we’ve spent an afternoon at the beautiful Riad which invited us to a traditional hammam. Farnatchi is nestled within the narrow streets of the medina, just a few steps away from the impressive Medersa Ben Youssef Islamic School. The Spa consists of After entering the house, a lovely decorated hallway leads to the spa area which is especially welcoming and bright. We were greeted with verbena tea (without sugar, thankfully!) and started out testing some Ila products while waiting for the Hammam to heat up. Ila, though based in the Cotswolds in England, uses such Moroccan ingredients as Argan oil.  After having tested a few samples, I know I’d like to try more.

Once we were ready, we were led to the steamy hammam room. All hammam rooms at the Farnatchi Spa are private with a space to change out of your clothes. The treatment we received followed the Moroccan tradition and I loved the entire experience so much, I’m taking you with me through every step:

Step 1 – Steaming

At the hammam you wear nothing but a linen cloth that functions as bikini bottom. We’ve spent a few minutes in the steamy hammam to prepare the skin for the treatment as the warm steam helps opening up pores. Traditionally, a bucket full of water serves a your shower at a hammam. So to start the treatment we’ve each received a splash of water from the bucket.

Step 2 – Black Soap

Next, Moroccan black soap, also called beldi soap or savon noir in France, was applied all over the body. Black soap, which has a green-brownish to black color and is gel-like in its consistence, is made from saponified olive oil and eucalyptus essential oil. The soap is rich in Vitamin E and helps the skin to prepare for exfoliation.

Step 3 – Body Scrub

Once the soap was washed away, I received a full body scrub with a kessa glove to take off all dead skin. This was my favorite part. It gently but thoroughly took off all my dead skin. And it was a lot of dead skin! The scrubbing helps with activating the skin and the lymphatic system and thus improving circulation and helping to flush out toxins. I felt more energized immediately.

Step 4 – Mask

After all the dead upper skin layers were taken off, the fresh skin beneath received a clay mask with Moroccan ghassoul. This healing clay is native to the Moroccan Atlas mountains and can’t be found anywhere else in the world. It’s been used for centuries in the traditional Moroccan hammam ritual. Ghassoul contains a high concentration of minerals and helps cleaning and nourishing the skin at the same time.

Step 5  – Argan Oil

I had been waiting for the moment to get covered in argan oil. It came on top of the ghassoul mask, and was gently massaged into the skin. I assume the oil helps activating the healing minerals in the ghassoul and also locks in any moisture, so the skin stays nourished and hydrated.

Step 6 – Hair wash

This one was a surprise: using the ghassoul paste, the lovely woman washed my hair with a mix of clay and rose water. I was very skeptical and expected that I’ll have to wash my hair again once back in my hotel room. But my hair felt and was actually clean and I didn’t need to wash it for days!

My Thoughts on Hammam

For everyone who likes to be pampered, a traditional Moroccan hammam is an amazing treat. I’ve shared the hammam with my friend and we both felt like a babies being washed thoroughly. The atmosphere at the Farnatchi Spa and the entire Riad was so calm and soothing. After the treatment you feel renewed and relaxed physically and mentally. For the care put into the treatment, the products and the ambience, the price for a simple hammam treatment is really affordable, too!

Riad Farnatchi Spa, Souk Ahl Fes, Marrakesh, Marokko

ila products

Moroccan Hammam

Create Your Own Hammam at Home

More Organic Spas in Marrakech

Believe me, traveling to Morocco doesn’t feel complete without your own hammam experience. Whether it’s upscale or affordable, here’s a list of some other really nice Spas and Hammams:

La Mamounia – using one of my favorite spa brands,

Avenue Prince Moulay Rachid, Marrakech, Marokko

Beldi Country Club – 20 minutes outside of Marrakech

KM6 route du Barrage, BP 210, Marrakech 40000, Marokko

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