For a classic Hammam and luxurious massage experience, Liz O’Reilly visited The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay.
It’s always a pleasure to arrive at Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay, the turnoff from the highway is like entering a mini other world of luxury and pure indulgence.
As I arrive at The Spa reception area, which will be renovated during Ramadan, I’m offered a refreshing warm, lemon-scented towel and a delicious cold-pressed detox drink of pineapple, apple, cucumber and mint which I sip gratefully (after the early-evening traffic) as I use an iPad to fill in a fairly comprehensive health questionnaire. It also allows me to select my choice of massage pressure and even music – I go for nature sounds but there’s a wide variety, including guided meditation.
I’m led down hushed corridors where ochre-hued terracotta floor tiles perfectly complement cool cream décor with Oriental touches to give a feeling of traditional hospitality. Passing the Jasmin Lounge, with its comfortable seating and array of fruit waters and teas, I’m tempted to just settle in and relax but, of course, I’m also eager to partake of my treatment.
For this Indulgent Hammam experience followed by the Ceremonial Massage, my therapist will be Ilham, who is herself from Morocco and is very well-versed in the secrets and intricacies of the ancient Hammam rituals.
The products to be used are all from the luxury French brand marocMaroc except for the traditional black soap, which is made from olives.
Entering the Hammam area, I am delighted by the design. Walls are covered in tiny, sand-coloured tiles, reminiscent of our desert landscape and, above two marble plinth beds, a convex ceiling is dotted with blue and green lights, sparkling like stars in the dusk sky.
I settle in the 38-degree heat, allowing the warmth to open my pores before Ilham washes me down with warm water and applies the precious black soap in circular movements, its scent slightly acrid yet happily familiar. She follows this with a very gentle face scrub and calming mask and I am left to lie in the luxuriant heated steam for around 10 minutes.
Ilham returns and begins to scrub with the Kessa – a special, rough-textured exfoliating glove which has been used in Hammams for centuries – to remove dry skin and impart a deep clean. I must admit that, though I love how Hammam makes my skin feel, I am not overly keen on this aspect and I’m glad that the expert therapist is receptive to my plea for lighter pressure.
Then a body mask made from brown sugar, argan oil and honey is slathered on my skin and I am smoothly covered to allow the heat to work its magic as the rich mask gently lifts any remaining impurities. At the same time, my face is treated to a cooling mask and I lie in the heat for another few minutes.
Ilham returns and shampoos my hair and applies an argan oil hair mask. After which it’s time for a shower milk rinse. It’s poured from a beautiful big, ornate jug and is cool to close my pores. Thankfully, Ilham warns me in advance, but I still jump in shock as the cold water hits my skin and we both laugh.
Following the Hammam, I rest for a few moments with water and lemon and mint, then we move into the massage room where I lie face-down on a super-comfortable padded bed – a rose beneath the face opening is a nice touch – and Ilham gets to work with a luscious body palm containing eucalyptus and shea butter. Perfect, I can almost feel the relief as my thirsty skin drinks in the nourishing mixture.
Working from side to side, she uses the moderate pressure I have requested, kneading and stretching my limbs and paying particular attention to my mid back, ankles and feet. Though these are my main areas of concern, she also gently releases the knots in my neck and shoulders and with her assured strokes my muscles relax and an all-over feeling of well-being engulfs me like a warm embrace.
All too soon, it is time for this joyous experience to draw to a close but not before I luxuriate in the dimly-lit relaxation area, reclining with a delicious warm lychee infusion and juicy dates to revive me.
I return to the spacious changing rooms and grab my clothes and, slightly bizarrely, I feel the urge to stroke my skin. I’m miraculously silky-soft and greatly hydrated. Even my hair is immediately displaying the benefits of the argan oil with a marked improvement in texture and body that I couldn’t have predicted.
If you want to try the Indulgent Hammam for yourself, The Spa has a special offer throughout Ramadan of 30% off on all à la carte Hammam and massage experiences.