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Oriental Hammam

An Oasis of Steam

The traditional Hammam, perhaps better known to westerners as the Oriental steam bath, has long played a part in the cultural and social life of eastern cities. An 'oasis of retreat' from daily stresses, entering the Hammam is akin to a journey: winding corridors turn this way and that, dramatic archways entice you on; until, suddenly, one enters the heart of Hammam, a haven of space, warmth and comfort. The calming sound of running water echoes from the ornately tiled walls, while the gentle and gracious attendant completes the sense of escape.

In respect of local traditions, the Oriental Hammam operates separate hours for ladies and gentlemen.

A Ritual of the Orient

Resting, fully relaxed, on a heated marble slab, the expert masseur attends to your body's every need, rejuvenating your skin and invigorating tired muscles. The masseurs-experts from Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey, known locally as Tayels or Tellaks - are masters of their craft. Under their gentle guidance (the word 'massage' is derived from the Arabic word 'mass' meaning 'to press softly' or 'gentle touch') even the most hesitant guest cannot fail to entrust themselves to the care of the masseur.

The treatment begins with a vigorous exfoliation, beginning with the back and moving on to the face, neck, shoulders, chest, stomach, hips, legs and feet - care is taken over every inch of the body, leaving the guest, in effect, with new skin.

Rediscovered Tradition

The ancient Greeks praised the virtues of daily bathing, judging it to be not only therapeutic, but also convivial. The tradition was taken up, and enhanced, by the Romans, who transformed what had been modest facilities into grand structures, often incorporating gymnasia and even public libraries. Soon, the wealth and importance of a city could be judged by the number of public baths to be found there.

The tradition of bathing was also an important aspect of Islamic culture, and was closely associated with the beliefs of the faith, The Prophet himself having highlighted the virtues of hygiene.

In Search of a Lost Time

Dressed in a traditional wrap known as a pestemal and loose sandals, one is guided to the heart of the Hammam, slowly acclimatising to the building heat and moisture, where streams of water flow gently from wall-mounted stone basins. Here, movement is scarce and spare and, while the body perspires, the mind is free to relax. A state close to meditation is achieved, and one finds one's thoughts quickly clearing of day-to-day burdens. As the steam rises, one's vision rises too, up towards the architecturally stunning dome that filters the daylight. The overall effect, it is said, is to make one feel like royalty in a bygone age.

A Lady's Conversation

In the days of the Sultans, brides-to-be would pamper themselves for hours in the various chambers of the Hammam, wholly dedicated to the pursuit of personal beauty. These fortunate few would receive delicate skin treatments, exotic body wraps - often based on ancient family recipes, passed on from one generation to another - and, of course, the traditional black soap or clay body wrap treatments.

These moments were spent in the company of close friends, away from the pressures of the impending marriage, and savoured as a time to share the latest news, either learnt or observed. Again, the social aspect of the Hammam was as important as the treatments themselves.

The Power of the Hammam

When one enters a Hammam, one leaves the outside world in the changing room. And in ancient times, there was little hurry to return to it. Following the treatment, patrons would rest in quiet seclusion, enjoying a final rejuvenation. Games would be played, books read and enjoyed, conversations shared. No one and nothing was permitted to disturb this timeless moment in this temple dedicated to wellbeing.

Open from 8.30am - 10.00pm
Ladies only: 8.30am - 2.00pm
Ladies & Gentlemen on alternate timings: 2.00pm - 8.00pm (subject to availability)
Gentlemen only: 8.00pm - 10.00pm
Last treatment: 9.30pm

To experience the Oriental Hammam, please contact our Oriental Hammam Reception at hammam@oneandonlyroyalmirage.ae or telephone 04 3152130.
Oriental Hammam
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