A visit to a local hammam requires a lot of equipment: your toiletries, a towel, a mat or stool to sit upon, a kis (cloth mitt for deep exfoliation), your comb or brush - the attendants will most likely brush the shampoo and conditioner through your hair, a plastic bowl for scooping water out of the buckets onto your body, a dirham or two of sabon bildy (savon noir- the traditional olive oil soap) - do NOT get this in your eyes! Optional accessories would include some tangerines or other fruit and a bottle of water.  

What to expect: In general, you walk into a small changing room where you will leave your clothes and bag. Most women will strip down to their underwear (minus bra), some will go fully naked...its your call, but here in Fes, its considered a little immodest to go the full monty.              

You will be led into a hot room and indicated a place to sit. Usually, the attendant will allow you to steam for a few minutes while she collects water buckets in a range of temperatures. She will then wash your hair (if you use conditioner, you might have to do it yourself. After three years, the woman who washes my hair at the hammam still gets frustrated that it wont lather like "good shampoo").  Next comes the scrubbing. Lots of scrubbing. Expect to see rolls of dead grey skin slough off your body. Some like to be scrubbed almost raw, but it's not for everyone, so don't be afraid to use the internationally-recognised "ouch!" combined with appropriate plaintive gesticulation to let her know that she's going a little rough.

Once you're cleaner than you've ever been, begins the massage with olive oil soap. Dont be surprised if she rubs your breasts or pulls down your knickers to scrub or massage your bum. Go with it - its normal, she's simply treating you as she would her own daughter. It is NOT by any means sexual. It is, however, sensual.

What to pay: in general, a Moroccan woman who collects her own buckets of water and scrubs herself will pay 8-10 dirhams for entrance to the hammam and a tip to the women who watch over your personal belongings. Massage and gommage (the scrub-down) cost anywhere from 20-50 dirhams. Some locals report paying 40 dirhams for everything: entrance, clothes guardian, attendant to collect water, scrub, and massage. Clarify what the price will be before you go in.

Going to a local hammam is one of the best things women can do in Morocco. Day after day you'll pass by cafes full of men and think "but what do the women do? where do they go to socialise" Well, this is it. If you're looking for an up-scale, pampered experience, a local hammam isn't for you...but for a real, off the beaten path experience, it is highly recommended.