Ready for a little weekend treat?
Regenerate your skin with a soapy scrub at one of these Dubai hammams.
1. The Moroccan
The Royal Hammam
Length: 80 minutes
As you drive up to the Oriental Hammam spa you’ll meander through the One & Only resort’s perfectly manicured gardens, alive with all manner of birds. It’s a calming experience and the perfect way to prepare your senses for what follows. The hammam itself, filled with the sound of trickling water and decorated with ornate tiles, Arabic trinkets and several beautifully lit Jacuzzis, is fully equipped for relaxation. The Royal Hammam started with gentle lathering in Moroccan black soap made from olives – we could actually see pieces of olive skin in it – before spending five minutes in the steam room. The suds were washed off, before we were given a good scrubbing on a marble table. We were then covered in wonderful eucalyptus-scented Ghassoul clay, wrapped in a sheet and given a honey facial, followed by a massage. A royal treatment indeed.
Modesty factor? Ladies are provided with teeny tiny paper pants and a shawl (which is removed again almost immediately). For this treatment it’s best to leave shyness at the door.
One&Only Royal Mirage, Al Sufouh, Dubai, daily 10 to 11pm, ladies 10am to 2pm, gents 8pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 3999999. Taxi: One&Only Royal Mirage. royalmirage.oneandonlyresorts.com
2. The Turkish
Traditional Turkish Bath Ritual
Length: 60 minutes (or Dhs470 for 45 minutes)
This is as close to a traditional Turkish bath as you’ll find in Dubai (albeit a very swanky rendition). You’ll be scrubbed with a scratchy mitt while lying on heated marble in an opulently large hammam room; your hair will be washed while warm water is poured soothingly over your scalp from a silver jug; and a linen cloth saturated in soap will be passed over your torso and limbs, creating an immense amount of olive-oil-infused bubbles. When your Turkish towel-clad therapist asks if you’d like to finish off the bath with a cold water dunk, say yes. It’s a shock to the body, but is incredibly refreshing. The treatment ends with an application of a rich body oil, so your skin will smell as good as it feels.
Top tip: Arrive early and spend some time in the spa’s steam room and salt inhalation room to open up the pores and prep the skin pre-treatment. And just as importantly, leave time at the end to lounge on one of the beds in the hammam’s expansive relaxation area.
Modesty factor? There’s a disposable bandeau bra, as well as the standard paper knickers.
Anantara, The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, daily 10am to 10pm. Tel: (04) 5678140. Taxi: Anantara, The Palm. dubai-palm.anantara.com
3. The Luxury
Length: 120 minutes
The Palazzo Versace Hotel is known for its slightly OTT opulence, and you can expect more of the same at its spa – which is no bad thing. Everything is luxe and dimly lit, from the relaxation lounge to the Jacuzzi. In a private hammam room with a single marble bed, our therapist, Ruth, begins by talking us through the hammam: a black olive soap rub, followed by a session in the steam room to soften the skin; a good scrub with the kessa mitt (a loofa-like glove); a second exfoliation using a MarocMaroc balm made of honey, black olive, sugar and argan oil, ending with a softening milk wash, scalp massage and hair washing ritual. By the end of it, we’re so relaxed that we’re essentially putty in Ruth’s hands. Then we’re led to a private treatment room for a full body massage. The final touch is the gift of a simple gift of a nazar bracelet, for protection and good luck.
Modesty factor? Perfect for shy guests as the hammam room is private.
Palazzo Versace, Al Jaddaf, Dubai, daily 9am to 11pm. Tel: (04) 5568888. Taxi: Palazzo Versace. palazzoversace.ae
4. The Traditional
Traditional Turkish Hammam
Length: 45 minutes
If you’re a hammam purist, the Talise Ottoman Spa at The Palm Jumeirah’s Zabeel Saray is a very good option. For while the surroundings are incredibly luxe – think an enormous raised Jacuzzi under a spectacular gold chandelier, curtained relaxation areas, possibly a couple of kilometres worth of mosaics and even a snow room – the treatment is of the distinctly old school variety. Take your place on the slab and be prepared for some serious scrubbing – we’re pretty sure our skin squeaked by the end of it. Thankfully, when the abrasion was about to become a little too much, we found ourselves covered in a fluffy, white cloud of soap. Frankly, we’ve still no idea how they managed to make a cloud out of soap, but we’re big fans…
Modesty factor? Ladies are given throwaway top and pants, but with all the rinsing the top is often down around your waist.
Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, daily 9am to 9.30pm. Tel: (04) 453 0456. Taxi: Jumeirah Zabeel Saray. jumeirah.com
5. The Solo
Traditional Majestic Hammam
Cost: Dhs610 / Dhs990 (with massage)
Length: 60 minutes / 120 minutes (with massage)
Nobody does understated luxury quite like St Regis, and the spa at the international chain’s newest UAE outpost is no different. Standing out among the city’s many more traditional hammams, the Iridium Spa’s marble-slabbed room is beautifully muted, with some very classy metallic accents and, crucially, designed for just one customer at a time. If you’re shy, this is the hammam for you. We start out being covered in black soap, before transferring to the steam room for ten minutes to let it soften our skin. Next up is the scrubbing – harsh but fair – before we are coated in a luxurious body oil. Are we the only ones who think there’s often something intensely comforting about having your hair washed for you, as though you get to revert to being a little child?
Modesty factor? You’re the only person in the room bar your therapist, so there’s no need to feel embarrassed.
The St Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor City, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, daily 9am to 9pm. Tel: (04) 4355500. Taxi: The St Regis Dubai. iridiumspadubai.com
6. The Golden
The Saray Golden Hammam
Length: 120 minutes
What could be more Dubai than heading to the world’s tallest hotel to have your body massaged with pure gold-infused oil? We were ushered to a private hammam room and lathered with black soap, before being left to lie down on a marble slab and let the steam do its magic for 15 minutes. Our therapist then donned her exfoliating mitt and expertly took to our skin, leaving us as clean and smooth as a gold-plated whistle. A gold clay body mask was applied liberally, as was a facial mask of deliciously fragrant Arabian honey. After a final rinsing, we were whisked to a treatment room for the ultimate reward: the gold massage. All too soon, we were back in the relaxation room, sipping ginger tea and radiating with the kind of glow that can only be achieved with 24 karats.
Modesty factor? A pair of disposable knickers.
JW Marriott Marquis, Dubai, daily 9am to 11pm. Tel: (04) 4146754. Taxi: JW Marriott Marquis. jwmarriottmarquisdubailife.com