Our modern, faceless, totally forgettable hotel (indeed, I’ve forgotten the name already) was advertising a 'traditional Morrocan hammam' for 130 dirhams. We were not impressed. The traditional Morrocan hammam in the Rue Riad Zitoun el Kadim did impress us, and we got it all for 7.5 dirhams (bucket included).
We had been organised enough to go out and buy some miniature fishing nets(!) that we had been assured were used for washing with. We had also eyed up some brown, sticky-looking goo that was apparently hammam soap. We erred on the side of caution, though, and took soap from the hotel. We also remembered to take swimsuits and/or spare underwear, as advised, but completely forgot to take towels.
Once down to our underwear/swimsuits, we left our bags to be fiercely guarded by the elderly lady in the changing room, who then steered us towards the door of the bath. Three lily-white, somewhat bewildered Europeans clutching large plastic buckets and bits of fishing net were enough to have several women leap to their feet and sort us out. They filled our buckets, made room for us amongst them, and generally made us feel very welcome. One lady in particular took it upon herself to make sure our buckets of water were always full and that they were at the right temperature. Following by example, we started to scrub ourselves and each other. We also abandoned our underwear, as modesty did not seem to be the order of the day (although I would always recommend being modestly dressed on arrival at any hammam). A constant supply of buckets of water kept coming our way for rinsing between each bout of scrubbing. It was warm, comfortable, and hard work (definitely should be an officially recognised Olympic event). There was the occasional break when another woman entered and was greeted by her friends and introduced to us with gestures and smiles. Women washed each others’ hair, gave each other massages, and watched as a couple of toddlers tried to copy the motions of the adults.
Suprisingly, the lack of towels when we were getting dressed was not too much of a problem. We seemed to just evaporate ourselves dry! It was not until we were sitting on a rooftop overlooking the Djemaa el Fna, drinking fresh orange juice, that the physical benefits of the hammam were felt. Not only were we the cleanest we had ever been, but all the aches from a week of heavy-duty walking had gone. A 'must-do' in Morocco.