I got naked-ish at a hammam spa

… And now that I’ve definitely gotten your attention with that title, I’ve got a story for you.

I love going to spas and salons. God knows I’ve given my hairstylist and esthetician at Penzone plenty of money and I will continue doing so. I love walking out with my hair, face and skin feeling and looking so refreshed. In lieu of the signature facial I usually get each December, I wanted to do something different for my upcoming birthday.

After doing my homework, I decided to book an appointment at Moroccan Steam Spa on the north side of town.  The spa offers several services such as facials, massages, waxing and the steam bath. There’s also a V steam … which is … well, I’m sure you can find that explanation elsewhere on the internet. I’m going to stick that one under the “do you, but not for me” category and move on with the post.

Of the three steam spa options, I chose the Elif package. This includes a classic hammam (the steam bath), a full-body Rhassoul clay, and a foam massage. Go big and go home, right?

My hammam bath experience

It’s a good thing I scheduled something relaxing. The drive up was held up by a fresh car accident around the Easton exit and a pop up thunderstorm that forced me to slow down to 40 and turn on my emergency flashers. I was a little frazzled by the time I pulled up to Moroccan Steam Spa. Immediately I went inside to a cozy, relaxing space with soft music playing in the background and rich colors and textures.

Unfortunately I didn’t catch the name of the lady who took care of me. I want to say it was Tai, but not knowing for fact or wanting to call her by the wrong name, I’m going to refer to her as SRL (Steam Room Lady) for the rest of the post. SRL was friendly and professional, and showed me to the changing room. I was curious to where the steam room was, and learned that the dressing room had the steam room attached. Think of a combination shower/sauna with the wall and glass door separating the two rooms. I was caught off-guard when SRL asked me if I had an extra pair of underwear. I did not, so for the shower she gave me a baggie with the pair of disposable underwear in it.

This was the only thing I wore in there. The essential-essentials were covered … and that was it. I knew I was going to be naked since it’s a bath, but actually being naked someplace other than your own shower is a very different experience. I once prided myself on being pretty open with new experiences. As I was laying down on the towel in the steam room, I couldn’t help thinking I really am a prude.

Then I remembered we’re both chicks and she’s definitely seen everything I had out, so there’s no need to be bashful. SRL came in and we got down to business.

The first step was the classic hamman. I laid back on the towel while SRL poured warm water from the tafadna (fountain) over me.  That part was awesome. It felt just like soaking in a hot tub, or if you want a mental picture, imagine wading into the ocean on a hot summer day and feeling warm water wash over you. That alone was relaxing enough and pretty amazing.

Step two was the kese. Now, I don’t exfoliate my skin very often, with the exception of my feet, and I always thought my skin was pretty tough. The kese proved me wrong.

A  kese is a special peeling glove that thoroughly scrubs the skin. Think of a loofah or one of those bath sponges but stronger. It didn’t hurt, but it wasn’t a feeling I was used to and was a little “uh oh” on some parts. Frankly, it felt like she was sandpapering the moneymakers (author’s note: it’s very hard to describe this in full in a way that’s actually funny and not crass.) After exfoliating my front SRL had me flip over to get my back. That actually felt pretty good – my back has been needing some TLC lately.

Step three was the Rhassoul, which is a reddish brown clay. Originally hailing from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, the clay is used in spas as a soap, shampoo and skin conditioner. After the kese, SRL rubbed me down with either black olive soap or argan oil (not entirely sure which) and then followed that up with the Rhassoul, which was left on me for about five to ten minutes. In that time I laid back in the steam room and took a nap, letting the clay work its magic.

SRL came back after time was up for step four – the foam massage. Warm water was poured over me to rinse the clay off and then she got to work on the foam massage. This wound up being my favorite part. As promised, the foam was relaxing and softened me up after the kese and Rhassoul. We finished my session up with a final wash, which included washing my hair and face.

Tip from me: laying down and having water poured over you means soaked hair. Thankfully I didn’t wash my hair beforehand, and whatever she used on my hair and face left me feeling so soft, but if you don’t want a wet head, this might not be for you. Or you might want to wear a shower cap, which is giving me an incredible mental picture right now.

Final verdict

I went in with one idea and came out with a slightly different experience, but overall, I’m glad I tried something different and out of my comfort zone.

My skin was clear when I left the spa on Saturday, and the next morning I woke up and noticed a difference. I was definitely softer and it turns out the kese took five years of thick running skin off my feet.

SRL was so lovely and professional and was able to put me at ease when I first went in and was wondering if this was actually a good idea. The reviews I read before booking gave Moroccan Steam Spa five stars out of five, and I can confirm those five stars are well-deserved. I definitely plan on going back – but carrying swimsuit bottoms.

Moroccan Steam Spa is located at 6168 Cleveland Avenue in Columbus. You can learn more about the spa and book a service at www.moroccansteamspa.com.

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