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Top Hammams Throughout the World

Posted: August 13, 2010

Deemed one of the hottest spa trends for 2010, this ancient ritual of cleansing is rising in popularity within the modern spa world.

The ages-old ritual of the hammam has been a fixture on the spa circuit in places like the Middle East (it’s also influenced by ancient Roman and Turkish traditions), and is now emerging across North America—from Winnipeg to Manhattan to Miami—even aboard cruise ship spas.

Before SpaFinder circles the globe to show you its picks for some of the top hammams worldwide, here’s a quick tutorial on all-things hammam.

A little hammam history

The hammam (spelled hamam in Turkey), from the Arabic word meaning “heat,” is a public bath. Hammams served as a central gathering place (social spa-going was a trend even back then!), where people could relax, practice personal hygiene, and simply hang out. This time-honored tradition has been graced with modern spa touches, such as exfoliating skin or hydrotherapy treatments. Hammam experiences vary; for example, Moroccans start with a black soap scrub followed by an exfoliation, mud application and rinse, while the Turks begin with an exfoliation and wind down with a soapy bath and rinse.

Hammam step-by-step

A typical hammam consists of a three-pronged process, beginning in the sıcaklık or hararet, the “hot room,” followed by a warm, intermediate room, and concluding in the soğukluk, or cool room. A therapist or attendant aids in the cleansing and purification treatment, using a rough mitt to exfoliate, wash you with soap, and many times, administers a massage.

Convention meets contemporary