Hammam, or the Turkish Bath, as it seems to be more popularised in Turkey, is a Middle Eastern Steam Bath Ritual. If you Have ever travelled into any Arab countries, the word Hammam, seems to pop up almost always among the Things to do List. Having read up on Hammams before, I had been very sceptical, and SCARED, to even attempt one of these. Well Lo n Behold…Guess who got talked into experiencing a HAMMAM…YIP, YOURS TRULY ?.
OK…OK, now let me not be like all the others that instil fear in you at the mere mention of the word Hammam. Like I mentioned , I was talked into this experience, and OH MY WORD, I was in for a surprise, a good kinda surprise that is. The 1st time I met Nevine, The beautiful manageress at the Reef Fitness Club, here in Bahrain, she had been surprised I hadn’t yet tried a Hammam. After selling me on what a super beneficial and relaxing ritual this is, She kindly offered me a FREE Hammam Session, right there at the Fitness Centre. Reef Fitness Club had opened up a Hammam Bath recently, and this fantastic experience can be enjoyed by not just Members of the Club, but anyone in Bahrain. I have included their contact details further down the blog, so if you do live in Bahrain, or plan to Visit soon, this is one Hammam Session, I would definitely recommend??.
So allow me to briefly clue you up,through my experience , on what to expect in your 1st ever Hammam.
I was warmly welcomed by receptionist Cindy, with the sweetest smile ever, where I was asked to fill in a consent form before going into the Hammam. She then leads me to Joanne, a petit woman, from the Philippines as well, as I had learnt during my Nervous babble during the Hammam session (hey anything to get my mind off what isn’t a normal ritual for me?). Joanne gently shows me off to my cubicle, and hands me, A towel, a towelling robe, Slip-On towelling sandals and wait for this…., Disposable Underwear?. I was already in this…NO TURNING BACK NOW…. so I quickly got into the recommended attire, NO TIME TO FEEL SHY NOW, I’m grateful it was just me at this session. (I had later learned I could take my own 2 piece underwear set, hmmm, about time I invest in a Bikini?)
Joanne then ushers me into the Steam Room, which was set at what felt like the highest humidity setting, and leaves me to sweat it out by myself. Being alone, with a nervous giggle or two, These 10 Minutes felt like Forever. After this I was lead to the Hammam Room, and was Guided onto the high Marble Slab, where the actual Bathing rituals , are to take place. During the whole session this Marble Slab gently heats up, to add another therapeutic element to my experience , an almost Hot Stone Therapy, if I could call it that.
After the steam room, I am rinsed off with hot water, and Joanne, lathers me with Black Soap, a soap that has Black Olives as it’s base with added eucalyptus oil, both used for it’s therapeutic properties. A gentle massage is incorporated during this soaping stage, and I feel all my Anxiety About a Hammam, gently ebb away. Now comes the bit that scares us all, the SCRUBBING!!! Using a Hand Glove with a rough/course texture ( this hammam offers a glove that is less rougher, if you so prefer), Joanne begins gently at my feet, which has me twitching in tickle spasms?, and works her way up my body, applying just enough pressure in scrubbing. To me, who isn’t familiar with this kind of ritual, which is a norm in many Arab countries, this scrubbing takes me back to days when you were scrubbed in the bath by Mamma, after a long day out playing?.
Rinsed off again after scrubbing, comes the Ghassoul (pronounced Rassoul), this is a clay mask, originating from the Atlas Mountains, in Morocco. Said to be rich in minerals , this clay has been used for centuries , in daily skin and hair treatments, in middle eastern countries, and now finding it’s way into many a spa or Hammams, worldwide. Today the mask was mixed with Rose Water, and the mask was applied throughout my body, here again incorporating a gentle massage during application. After a final rinse off, water Infused with a floral oil, Is finally poured over, leaving me with skin so soft and radiant, with a gentle fragrance of the jasmine water, and my mind and soul, REFRESHED and REJUVENATED , a Hammam is what I would definitely LOVE to incorporate into my “ME TIME” , after all I slept like a baby after this hammam, guess our mums were into something when we little and the scrubbing and massaging had gently lulled us off to sleep??
This had been just a beginner session, to acclimatise myself with what a hammam ritual was like, the Reef Fitness Club, offers a variety of other packages, that include other treatments that may be added on, with added access to their pools/jacuzzi . Find below a pricing list (this is September 2105, pricing may vary), and included is their contact details.
Reef Fitness Club, Reef Island – Coral Building
Manama Seafront, Bahrain
Telephone : +973 1700 9641
email : firstname.lastname@example.org
THANK YOU, Nevine, Joanne and Cindy, for making this such an awesome experience, one more Tick Off my “BUCKET LIST”✅.
So friends do go try out a Hammam next time you in the Middle East, or as is becoming the trend lately, at a spa near you?