1 Caracalla: Set in a beautiful Roman-esque setting, these five hammam pools of gradually decreasing temperatures are designed to both relax and boost circulation – although the final 18C plunge pool is heart-stoppingly chilly. To warm you up post-plunge an Elemis exotic coconut and milk body wrap is then applied, where the skin is brushed, exfoliated with coconut husks then lathered in warm frangipani oil and milk. After that you’re cocooned in one of those tin-foil blankets designed for marathon runners. While the oil and milk combo gets to work, you can lie back and enjoy a blissful face and head massage, before a leisurely shower and an all-over moisturising treatment that leaves your skin as soft as a baby’s. Slightly tamer than some of the more rigorous hamman treatments, Caracalla’s take on tradition is deliciously relaxing and a real body treat.
Caracalla, Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa (04 399 5555) Open daily 9.30am-9pm. Body wrap Dhs490, including use of hammam pools.
2 The One&Only Spa: If there’s a fancier way of getting a rigorous scrub down then we want to see it. Not only is the hammam at The One&Only probably the closest thing you’ll get to an authentic Marrakesh bathhouse outside of Morocco, but it’s also the epitome of opulence. The lofty, domed ceilings draw the eyes upwards, with trickling fountains, plunge pools and dimly-lit lanterns adding to the authenticity. The scrub down is expert, using pungent-smelling rasool soap and oils. Afterwards you can laze around in the shimmering, heated plunge pool, snacking on dates and mint tea. It just might be a slice of heaven.
One&Only Royal Mirage (04 315 2140). Open daily 9.30am-9pm (9.30am-1pm ladies only). Last booking 8pm. Dhs350-600 depending on treatment.
3 The Spa at The Palace: The Moroccan hammam here is perfect for the more modest among us – in keeping with Moroccan tradition, you don’t go naked (while it’s a disposable pants rather than a bikini situation, the therapist keeps things discreet). Starting out with a jacuzzi session, you’re then led to a hot stone slab for a gentle body wash (hair and face not included). A brief 10 minutes in the steam room is followed by a rougher scrub down. The therapist delighted in showing us the threads of dead skin this produced; kind of gross, but proof that it works. Finally, a soothing all-over massage with scented oils makes this hammam one of the more relaxing around.
The Palace (04 428 7805). Open daily 9am-10pm. Dhs250 for 30 minutes.
4 Raffles Amrita Spa: Raffles’ Arabian ceremony hammam experience is meant to emulate a traditional Moroccan bath. We found it starkly different to anything we’d experienced in Marrakech. For starters, the treatment is soothing and discreet (preferential to our Morrocan memory of a crazed lady menacingly lording a scrub brush over our quivering body). The ceremony at Raffles starts with a body cleanse incorporating eucalyptus soap, followed by an invigorating exfoliation. Next, you get sprawled out on a giant tinfoil blanket, covered in Moroccan mud and then steamed and scrubbed. The whole thing ends with a relaxing full body massage, where all remaining tension simply melts away.
Raffles (04 314 9869). Open daily 9am-9pm. Dhs879 for 120 minutes.
5 Jasmine Spa: Like many of the hammams in Dubai, the one at the Grand Millennium’s spa is a solitary affair. As a twist, the marble slab is separated from the steam room (the therapist explained that this assured against them sweating onto clients). While staff are a bit chatty – when all you want is peace and quiet – the scrubbing experience is otherwise sublime. The whole experience starts with a full-body exfoliation, then moves on to an intense steam session, mud wrap, more steam, a shampoo and some stretching. It’s definitely not a treatment for the modest. But for fans of the traditional Turkish bath, it’s pretty close to the real deal.
Grand Millennium (04 429 9999), Al Barsha. Open daily 10am-8pm. Dhs370 for one hour.