Hammam’s the word – Glass discovers the perfect antidote to the English weather at Urban Retreat’s new Morrocan Hammam

Hammam’s the word – Glass discovers the perfect antidote to the English weather at Urban Retreat’s new Morrocan Hammam

I always maintain I was born in the wrong country. I detest – no, loathe – the cold and come the New Year, I’m ready to emigrate. Colds and flu, weather-beaten complexions, red wind-whipped skin, waking up shivering at 3am having kicked off the duvet, freezing toilet seats (sorry but it had to be said), having to bundle up in coats and scarves before you step outside, only to sweat in a most unladylike way on the crowded London Underground. Basically a recipe for disaster and stress-induced illness.

Hence why opening of a new Moroccan hammam in Harrods has seen many frostbitten souls flocking to Knightsbridge like migrating swallows. The new Morrocan Hammam on the 5th Floor of Harrods is situated in the Urban Retreat spa and is a collaboration between the spa and luxury body and skincare brand MarocMaroc.

To the uninitiated, the hammam is a steam room where one goes to be habitually cleansed with water buckets and scrubs and is an integral part of Arabic culture. As well as the body scrub, benefits of the hot steam allow the body to sweat out toxins, clear the sinuses, boost circulation, alleviate muscular pain and tension as well as promote a good night’s sleep. Being someone who only grabs a hurried shower in the morning, or falls exhausted in the bath come the evening until the water turns tepid, this was just what the doctor ordered.

Hammam's the word

The cream and gold décor is elegant and authentic, without being too rustic (this is Harrods after all) with marble lattice walls and palatial boudoir-esque furnishings at every turn. Currently the Hammam is women-only – although they have started running men’s evenings on Tuesdays after a few people made enquiries. And once you’ve spent a few hours here, you can see why the chaps were so eager to get a look-in.

Once you get over the initial awkwardness, the feeling of lying down on a stone floor in the intense heat and having water poured over your naked, tired limbs by the attendant (the “Kessala”), makes you wonder why this practice isn’t an integral part of every culture. Every inch of your skin is loofah’ed, scrubbed and polished to within an inch of its life, circulation is boosted, while the mind is relaxed and your tense muscles slowly yield to the heat. In short, the perfect way to end a stressful week.

The final stage is the relaxation room, where I’m led to one of the partitioned divans and – skin glowing and tranquility restored – left to sip mint tea and eat a few sweet dates – relishing those last few minutes of feeling like Scheherazade before I head out into the cold and the crowds.

by Viola Levy

Illustrations by Manon Franklin-Fraiture

The Morroccan Hammam is located at Urban Retreat, 5th Floor, Harrods, Brompton Road London SW1X 7XL For more information or to book, visit here
A Traditional Hammam (50 mins) is £125


About The Author

Related Posts