Whether you are a spa regular or enjoy it as an occasional spoil, you know what to expect – facial, Mani, Pedi, massage, and these are amazing – big fan myself – however, it can limit your exposure to the many other great offerings that exist out there.
My recent obsession has been the Hammam Spa with its rich and diverse history, so allow me a moment to pique your interest. The influence of the Hammam, or Turkish bath, which originated in the Middle East and quickly rose to popularity during the Roman Empire, is still seen in spas today.
But what is a Hamman? The word itself translates to “public bath place” and traditionally, these were spaces where people would come to cleanse before prayers. A Hammam and its practices differ from culture to culture, having been integrated into many countries such as Morocco, India, Rome, Egypt & Greece, however, a notable aspect of it, is that Hammams have an emphasis on running water for cleansing, but more specifically, hot steam, rather than submersion into a bath of hot water.
The Moroccan Hammam was seen as a place to socialize, where the rich and poor would gather, stripped of both clothing and class-division, separated only by gender.
With the introduction of private bathrooms in homes, the necessity for public bath places has declined since its inception, but the benefits cannot be overlooked.
In modern day spas, the influence of the Hammam still prevails. The use of steam in spas is an already established medium. Enveloping the body in a hot steam can help the body in many ways, including improved circulation which boosts cardiovascular health, it purifies the skin and detoxes the body, relaxes muscles and loosens joints.
Coupled with steam rooms, treatments can include body exfoliation, massages and various additions of aromatherapy – this will depend on the spa.
The evolution of Hammam and the integration into spas has allowed for a deeper exploration and inclusion of addition wellbeing practices in order to boost physical and psychological wellbeing.
Hammam Turkish Bath & Spa (R1950pp) at Yadah Castle in Pretoria, boasts several Hammam journeys that their guests may embark on, ranging from Turkish, to Persian, to Oriental or Egyptian inspired experiences.
Their Turkish Delight Rose Ritual begins with a welcome drink with fruit, before relaxation begins with an aromatic foot spa and foot ritual. This is followed by the Hammam Ritual, which utilizes a pure silk blend with rose essential oil and rosehip, which contain potent anti-aging benefits. Guests are then treated to a 60min Turkish Rose massage and uplifting hydrating facial. The experience is finished off with a lunch consisting of either a wrap or meze platter.
Aromatherapy is used to metaphorically transport a guest to exotic faraway lands, while the journey itself lends to a more well-rounded, full experience beyond just cleansing and relaxation.
Of course when one thinks of bathing, it is often done in the nude, so is this true of hammam spas? Well… sometimes. More often than not in a modern spa setting, they will insist on you wearing a bathing suit, however should you visit a more traditional hammam, you may find yourself baring yourself to all and sundry. Always double check the requirements beforehand to avoid any uncomfortable situations.
In South Africa, public bathing is a thing of the past, however, it’s rich history lives on in spas, and you owe yourself the indulgence, for both body and mind.
Hammam Turkish Bath & Spa
1522 Sterkfontein Avenue, Doornkloof East, Irene, Pretoria
012 670 9041
All photos courtesy of Yadah Castle.