The last hammam I had involved cold slabs of marble, black strange-smelling soap and a formidable Moroccan lady who knew no mercy.
As soon as I was led into the changing room at the Talise Spa at Jumeirah Etihad Towers I felt that what I was about to experience was a hammam for the luxury market. Maria, my therapist, was far from formidable. She asked me get changed and to ring a bell when I was ready. I was then led to the hammam bed, which is as hard as the marble slab I remember from Morocco, but this time blissfully covered in material, as well as heated.
The idea of a hammam is to cleanse and moisturise. I do remember after my last one feeling squeaky clean, if a tad traumatised!
Maria gently covered me in warm water and then started to lather the soap into my skin. It smelt gorgeous. Once I was covered in soap, back and front, she led me to the steam-room where I was told to sit for 10 minutes.
This process was repeated three times, happily not just with the soap. The second time I was covered in a geranium mud mask and the third time a honey and royal jelly wrap. The products are all especially flown in from Morocco and utterly blissful.
I almost forgot to tell you about the slightly painful bit, the scrubbing, which happens after the soap and before the mask wrap. Maria wore a special Moroccan exfoliating glove and scrubbed me – every inch of me, even under my arms – until I was covered in small fragments of dead skin. I looked a bit like a snake shedding its old skin to emerge more lustrous and colourful! I would suggest this is not a treatment to have if you’re vehemently guarding your suntan, or if you are here on holiday, do it before you hit the sun-lounger.
I loved the Royal Hammam treatment. It has the perfect mix of pampering, relaxing and practical benefits and Talise has really raised it to a new level of comfort.
The culmination of the treatment was a 15-minute soak in a gorgeous, enormous rosewood bath. I got in and Maria poured rose oil, gold honey powder, milk powder and rose petals into the water. I lay there watching the constellation on the ceiling blink slowly and listening to a tape of birdsong feeling rather like a queen, which is I suppose why they call it the Royal Hammam treatment!