I’ve become accustomed to walking through a hotel lobby to reach a spa, so it was nice to pop into an understated residential entrance in on the Palm Jumeirah for my treatment. The venue itself was clean and basic, attended by a generous number of staff.
The royal hammam is essentially a Moroccan-style hammam with a massage at the end. The steam room and scrub is designed to get rid of dead skin and impurities, while the massage aims to help customers loosen up and relax.
Step by step
No-nonsense (yet polite) staff lead me to the treatment room, where I’m instructed to undress and slip on a less-humiliating-than-usual pair of disposable pants. My therapist then re-enters (he too has done away with his clothing, with the exception of a pair of swim shorts) and leads me into the steam room. Here, I’m instructed to lie down on a traditional stone bed (which is covered in a spongy mat for comfort, and a plastic sheet for hygiene purposes), before being covered with Moroccan soap (a soap-like wax). I’m then left to stew in the steam room for 15 minutes, allowing time for the heat and the wax to coax out impurities from the skin.
When my time is up, I receive a vigorous, full-body scrub-down with a loofer-like sponge. Being the mildly uptight man that I am, I find the scrub rather intrusive – of course, my therapist is simply doing his job (and doing it very comprehensively, might I add), but it’s likely that some might find the intimacy of the hammam too much to handle.
However, once I relax into it, there’s something very therapeutic about the scouring, which is soon followed by a lathering of scented Dead Sea ‘mud’. Once again, I’m left alone in the steam room for another 15 minutes before being washed down with bowlfuls of hot water, followed by a shower and a firm massage. Again, the massage might be too much for men who jealously guard their personal space, but it’s an otherwise comprehensive treatment.
The combination of the hot steam room, the scrub and a relaxing massage leaves me feeling a little lethargic, but with skin smoother and fresher than I’ve ever known it.
• A great way to unblock pores and give your skin a thorough once over.
• As daft as it sounds, the intimacy of the treatment may be too much for some men who are unused to hammam etiquette.
Dhs495 for 90 minutes (includes Jacuzzi access). Chocolate Gents’ Spa, Shoreline Building 10 (Al Das), Palm Jumeirah (04 437 6001).
Reader offer: quote ‘Time Out’ when booking the treatment and get 20 percent off until May 31.
Set in a beautiful Roman-esque setting, these five hammam pools of decreasing temperatures are designed to relax and boost circulation – although the final 18˚C plunge pool is heart-stoppingly chilly.
Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa (04 399 5555).
The One&Only Spa
Not only is the hammam at The One&Only the closest thing you’ll get to an authentic Marrakesh bathhouse outside of Morocco, but it’s also the epitome of opulence.
One&Only Royal Mirage (04 315 2140).
The Spa at The Palace
Starting with a jacuzzi session and finishing with a soothing massage with scented oils – one of the most relaxing options in town.
The Palace, The Old Town, Downtown Dubai (04 428 7805).