Sink into a pool of hot water and wash away your day. Then, get scrubbed down and massaged by trained therapists. Traditional Turkish and Moroccan spa experiences like this can be had at the myriad of hammams popping up in Dubai. This article explains what to expect when going to a hammam and points out some of the best locations to book your spa experience.
Most of the hammam-style spas in Dubai are centred around the hotel district on Palm Jumeirah, the artificial group of islands grouped in the shape of a palm tree. While some of the spas are connected to the luxury hotels in the area, others are stand-alone ventures. Discover more here about Dubai hotels and choose the right one for you on Expedia.com.
A Short History of Hammams
Hammams, also sometimes referred to as Turkish or Moroccan baths, are a traditional way to cleanse and relax. Scholars believe that the hammam style of bathing is the fusion of two older grooming traditions: that of Roman baths and that of Turkic ritual steam-bathing. It’s thought the tradition of bathing in this way spread after various ancient conquests; battalion leaders who found the baths in newly won territories decided these purification techniques should be assimilated into their cultures. Hammam-style baths spread in Europe thanks to the Ottoman Empire.
Relax In a Peaceful Place
Nowadays visiting a hammam at a resort or spa is different than it would have been hundreds of years ago, but the purpose and qualities of the bath remain the same. In hammam tradition, the spa experience begins when you enter the premises. Under soothing lighting, twisting corridors lead you to the peaceful centre of the hammam. Though different hammam providers in Dubai have slightly different layouts, the essentials are all the same: pools of water for soaking, a steamy room to increase circulation and loosen your joints, and a heated stone slab where guests are massaged and exfoliated. The sounds of steam releasing and running water provide a backdrop of white noise that helps you escape from daily stresses on another level.
The therapists, traditionally called tellak, guide you through the peaceful rituals. At some spas in the city, modern treatments like clay wraps, oil massages and cream wraps are also available. Others stay strictly traditional with exfoliating soaps. At some hammams, the exfoliation treatment seems to get the most emphasis while at others it’s the head-and-neck massages after exfoliation that receive the best reviews from clients. All hammams have separate hours or locations for male and female guests; at some hammams guests are provided disposable undergarments while others anticipate guests will feel more comfortable au naturel.
A visit to a hammam should not be rushed. Instead, visitors should expect to take some personal time after treatments to relax, reflect and sip mint tea.
Top Hammams in Dubai
Among the top-reviewed hammam-style spas in the city are The One&Only at the Royal Mirage, The Spa at The Palace, Raffles Amrita Spa, Royal Spa at Rixos The Palm Dubai, Dubai Marine Beach Resort and Spa and Talise Ottoman Spa. Out of all of these, the Talise Ottoman Spa is billed as the largest such hammam in the Middle East.
Before booking in at one of these or at another spa, call ahead and find out if they have the treatments you most desire and whether or not they can accommodate your schedule. Some spas also run special promotions, such as couple massages or half-day treatment packages that may lead you to choose one location over another.
In addition to the hammam-style spas, Dubai has many other pampering options to choose from, including Balinese, Thai and Japanese-style treatments. However, after a camel safari in the desert or a week of browsing through the souks in Dubai, for many a hammam seems like the most appropriate way to wash away the sand.
About the Author: Meena Sharma travels frequently for her job in marketing with an Indian airline and enjoys reviewing spas that she has visited.