The walls, the square tubs, the marble flooring all tell of the ancient history of steam and fragrance, while the sound of water and the soft lighting deliver a feeling of peace. So many hotels, spa towns and health farms the world over now offer the Hammam experience. But there are some in which that space speaks the language of centuries-old civilisations.
A SULTAN’S LIFE
One of these is the Çırağan Palace Kempinski in Istanbul, the only Turkish hotel within the walls of the Sultan’s palace (kempinski.com). In this prestigious location the atmosphere is redolent of bygone days, starting with the Hammam decked out in traditional style inside the magnificent spa that offers a special course of treatment to purify the skin with a succession of rooms at different temperatures and also savonage and massage. Then, just like a sultan, you can relax sipping a cup of Turkish tea, known as çay, by the side of the infinity pool with its breath-taking view of the Bosporus.
STEAM AND FENG SHUI
The Palais Namaskar in Marrakesh is a pearl of Moroccan hospitality for anyone seeking a break focusing on mental and physical wellbeing (palaisnamaskar.com). Guests can choose from packages created by a team of nutritionists, massage therapists and experts in disciplines intended to fortify body and mind. The feel is of an oasis with beautiful gardens, lakes and a spa designed according to the principles of Feng-Shui. All the treatments are preceded by a Moroccan Hammam, considered an essential starting point to prepare the body for its regeneration.
IN THE MOORISH HEARTLAND
Granada in Andalusia is the site of the historic Al Andalus baths, inside a fourteenth century Hammam (granada.hammamalandalus.com). A labyrinth of pools, steam rooms, fountains and huge octagonal marble seats on which to relax as you travel from one environment to the next. The most classic of all bodily rituals is the Andalusian experience involving a scrub with an exfoliating kessa glove that gets rid of all impurities, leaving the skin soft and well-toned.
ON SPA ISLAND
It takes just twenty minutes by yacht from the port of Doha to reach a private island in the crystal-clear waters of the Arabian Gulf. This is the location for one of the latest jewels in the crown of the futuristic architecture of Qatar, the Banana Island Resort by Anantara (doha.anantara.com). Overlooking a private beach it offers everything you need to relax, from villas built on piles over the sea to an interior spa housing a Turkish bath inspired by those of the Ottoman Empire, with coloured majolica tiles, tubs and fountains beside which to relax to the sound of gushing water. The treatment can then end with an Eastern massage, fragrant with drops of rose oil.