Every home in Morocco always has two ingredients on hand: olive oil and olives. These products are essential to Moroccan cuisine and culture. At breakfast, traditional breads and pancakes are dipped in olive oil to start the day; at lunch, olives are presented as an appetizer; at supper, coffee and mint tea are served alongside olives and bread; and at dinner, olives can be found in many tagines. The Atlas Mountains and rich valleys surrounding Marrakech, like the Saraana valley, are famous for their fine olives and high-quality oil. Every year, young Moroccan boys and girls from these regions look forward to November and December, when the harvest takes place. The community works together to farm the land. Landowners prepare home cooked meals for the local youth to enjoy under the shade of the olive branches when they take a break from picking their fruit and have done so for centuries. Once harvested, the olives are either preserved or pressed into oil so they can be enjoyed year round. Every child growing up in Morocco has watched and helped their mother stone the individual olives and add them to glass jars with water and salt. Nowadays, most everyone in Morocco heads to their local market to buy their olives. For those in Marrakech’s Medina, that means heading over to Souk Aploh, just outside of the Jema al-Fnaa square, to the cluster of shops that specialize in all things olive.
Shop number 10 is situated at the end of the small row of olive shops, amongst sellers with everything from leather shoes to traditional Moroccan dress to intricately designed brass lamps to piles of fresh mint for tea. Abed Moneem and his brother Omar run their family’s olive business in Souk Aploh, just outside of the main square, called Jema al-Fnaa. The shop has been in their family for generations and will be passed down for many more. They sell a rainbow of olives, neatly packaged in glass jars. The presentation is a feast for the senses, with red, pink, green, and black olives stacked alongside preserved lemons, garlic and infused olive oils. Bottles of green and red chilis line the walls, as well as specialty olives made with chilis or almonds. Certain varieties are solely for cooking and are to be added to other dishes while others are to be eaten raw with a meal or as a snack. The green and red olives, preserved in water and salt with or without the pit still inside are put into tagines. Another variety of green olives, preserved with salt and lemon, is for eating. Abed Moneem and Omar’s best seller is their green olives with herbs: za’atar, parsley, coriander, cayenne, garlic, thyme, and olive oil. The black olives are the second most popular and often mixed with pickled carrots and parsley, to make what Moroccans call mishirmil. For just 10 dirhams, you can get as much as half a kilogram of olives to take home and feast on. Most shops also offer argan oil, amloo (a mixture of almond and argan oils), and kaleaa (preserved meat).
Lemons are preserved in two ways: with water and salt, or just with salt. The preserved lemons that are made solely with salt are kept for a very long time, up to four months, and turn black in color. They are used in tangias for both their flavor and their high salt content as the only salt used in the dish comes from the preserved lemons. Both lemons and olives are found bottled in water and salt, olive oil, or vinegar and herbs. Each variety has a unique flavor and can be used for a variety of dishes.
It is not uncommon for Moroccans who live abroad to come back to the country to visit family and be sent home with a jar of olives and olive oil. The preserved good is emblematic of Morocco: representative of the country’s fertile land and varied cuisine. The Souk Aploh is a must visit while in Marrakech, and we invite you to join us in enjoying the many goods it has to offer!
Our cookery school ethos at Marrakech Riad is really simple, Keep it fresh and keep it healthy!
For our tapenade recipe the first step is to visit the local market to buy today’s best ingredients.
Then we can begin to cook a delicious meal!
1 cup/200 grams black cured olives
2 tablespoons capers (rinsed and drained)
1 or 2 cloves garlic (pressed or very finely chopped)
1 tablespoon harissa
1 tablespoon lemon juice (or to taste)
Optional: 1 tablespoon parsley (fresh and chopped)
1/4 cup olive oil (or more to taste)
1. Wash the olives and remove the stones and then mix the olives with the capers.
2. Chop the olive and caper mix until they begin to form a thick paste, this can be achieved by hand or in a food processor.
3. Mix the chopped olives and capers with the harissa, garlic, and lemon juice.
4. Taste and adjust as desired.
5. Store the tapenade in a covered glass jar in the fridge.
superb on small toasts as a canape!
Simple delicious food is our trademark.
If you would like to visit our Marrakech cookery school please click here to make arrangements
During your visit to the red city of Marrakech, one thing you cannot afford to miss are the olive sellers of the central square. You will find them lined up in the Northern reaches of Jemaa al-Fnaa as the square and the famous Souk district connect with one another.
It’s important to note that Morocco is a country of regional delicacies. Between Essaouria and Agadir, Argan trees paint the landscape in a luscious green. This is where the nutty and intensely flavoured Argan oil originates from. The same notion applies to dried fruits and dates, these sacred Moroccan staples are at their most delicious when grown in the deep Saharan South, from the regions of Goulmima to Zagora and the Draa Valley.
Therefore, whereas you might have to travel a little way to sample the freshest portions of oils and dates, some of the finest Moroccan olives are at your doorstep. Hand-picked from the groves of the Atlas region, the olives that grow around Marrakech all four seasons and, as many Marrakshi locals would tell you, the olives that find their way to the market stalls of the red city are of some of the highest calibre in the country.
Olives are picked at various stages of ripening to determine their colour and subsequent flavour and texture. After this is complete the olives can be marinaded using a host of Moroccan herbs to create an array of different flavours. For around 5 Dirham’s (£0.39) you can purchase an entire bag of olives, so why not sample all the different olives on offer?
The central square of Jemaa al-Fnaa is but a 10 minute stroll from the Riad Papillon in the heart of the Marrakech Medina.
Argan oil can be used in many forms, from massage oils, face creams and peanut butter to bread dipping. Such is the versatility of this oil that it can be used for all myriad of purposes. Any visit to Marrakech or any of the other southern regions one is highly likely to encounter a large number of individuals attempting to sell wares containing argan oil. This does however belie the fact that the argan tree only grows in Morocco and southern Morocco at that. Not only this, but it takes 30 kilograms of nuts to make 1 litre of oil, ensuring that if you buy a bottle of argan oil you can pretty much bank on the fact that none of your friends will have it or perhaps even heard of it (if you’re into that sort of thing). All the same local communities have gone to great lengths to produce as much as they can and to market it as successfully as they can. Indeed due to government initiatives all argan oil is now produced in women’s co-operatives dotted all over the southern reaches of the country. A visit to one of these co-operatives can be very eye opening and it is heartening to see rural women being financially empowered by the wonders of argan oil. Meaning that you not only leave with a lighter wallet but also a lighter conscience.
If you believe all the information/adverts propagated by those who sell argan oil then it may well cure the common cold (in addition to Psoriasis and exzema), make you look younger and get you a better car than the neighbours. However, that is not to dismiss it’s health benefits as it has indeed been proven to be an excellent source of fatty acids good at combating cholesterol, to be full of vitamin E as well as being far more resistant to oxidisation than olive oil. The oil itself has a subtle nutty flavour and is in this author’s view the most pleasant edible oil product he has ever tasted. Argan oil is quite hard to come by and pricey but no trip to south west Morocco is complete without some exploration of this rare and highly versatile oil and it’s applications. Our Riads are situated in the historic old town of Marrakech which is surrounded by argan country, so anyone out there who’s itching to try this Mahgrebin delight why not book a room today in one of our luxurious Riads and find yourself some argan oil, we can even organise a day trip to Essaouira where you can stop off at one of the many co-operatives en route and while you’re there sample the Argan oil delights that Marrakech and Morocco has to offer.
Bessara is a traditional Moroccan winter soup. However, by simply adding less water while cooking, this recipe makes for a delicious dip to be eaten during the warmer months. Serve warm or chilled topped with smoked paprika, lemon juice, salt, and olive oil. Dip in a variety of sliced veggies, bread, or pita chips.
Tagine is the dish that most often comes in mind when traveling to Morocco, but all locals in Marrakech recommend foreigners try a Tangia. Tangia a dish that is specific to Marrakech. You can’t find it outside of the city. The Tangia itself is a clay pot that is loaded up with ingredients, taken to the local Farnatchi (wood fired oven to heat the hammam), and put in the embers of the fire to slowly cook for up to 6 hours.
You could find a chicken or lamb Tangia but the most recommended is the beef Tangia, which is cooked with saffron, cumin, garlic, olive oil, pickled lemon, and ghee. The meat and all the other ingredients are put in the clay tangia pot and covered with a paper, then given a good shake to mix everything together, and placed in the embers of the Farnatchi.
Most restaurants in the city offer Tangia, but we recommend you try one at one of our Riad’s. The girls in our kitchen cook Tangia the way that their mothers and grandmothers taught them, ensuring that you get to try an authentic recipe.
Looking at the topic of recycling in Marrakech, there are several ways in which the locals maintain a “waste not, want not” mentality. It is wonderful to behold the reality of a community in which people salvage what they can use again & look for practical solutions to step away from a throw-away, disposable society.
As well as the plastic bag ban, another great example of these waste combating incentives is the trading of plastic bottles in exchange for household items.
During a week, the Moroccan household is likely to accumulate an abundance of plastic bottles from various products, such as 5l water bottles or vegetable oil containers. Rather than casting away the bottles into the trash, the family have a much better solution available to them. It is possible to trade the plastic bottles for essential household cleaning products, at a variety of small outlets which are dotted around the ancient medina and surrounding suburbs.
These tiny trade spots specialise in homemade cleaning products, such as floor cleaner, bleach, dish and laundry soap. The products are very strong and often have a heavy perfume. Amongst the housewives of Morocco, they are favoured over the branded products which are also available.
The more plastic bottles you offer to the shop keeper, the more product you can take away without any monetary payment. The merchant will use these bottles for future customers or, if he has enough, will sell the excess bottles on to olive farmers who re-fill them with their olive oil .
If you’re just visiting Marrakech, you probably wont be doing much cleaning – but you certainly should be drinking plenty of bottled water! Look out for the stores selling only cleaning products or olive oil & offer them your empties. Alternatively you can always leave them with your local shop keeper or the housekeeper, as they will be ready to make the trade on your behalf.
Come and be a part of it all, contact us to book your stay today!
Our cookery school ethos at Marrakech Riad is really simple, Keep it fresh and keep it healthy!
For our zaalouk recipe the first step is to visit the local market to buy today’s best ingredients. Then we can begin to cook a delicious meal!
Zaalouk is a wonderful tasty treat, it is versatile and stays fresh for three days.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large aubergines
4 medium tomatoes seeded and chopped
2 garlic gloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
1 lemon wedge (optional)
• Dice the aubergines in large cubes.
• In a medium sized pan, heat the olive oil and add all the ingredients (except the lemon wedge). Cover over low medium heat until the vegetables are soft, about 25 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure the vegetables don’t stick to the pan.
• Uncover, mash the vegetables and leave over medium heat until all liquids evaporate.
• Add salt and/or juice of a lemon wedge to taste (optional). Serve warm or cold, as a side, a dip or a spread.
Simple delicious food is our trademark.
If you would like to visit our Marrakech cookery school please click here to make arrangements
It’s 3am, and from the silent street we can hear the piercing sound of the harira man’s wake up alarm.
He is used to such early starts. In fact, apart from on Friday’s, everyday begins this way.
It is still dark, the sun wont rise for another hour yet – so the usually busy and happening area is empty and calm. We can see the appeal of working these hours, as it is rare that one is treated to peaceful moments inside of the medina.
There is one hour between the alarm wake up call and the call for prayer, so the mission is set. Harira must be ready to serve by the time the morning prayers are over and everybody leaves the mosque.
There are several different adaptations of Moroccan harira (soup), each eaten at specific intervals in the day or for particular festivals. Each recipe is packed full of ingredients which are designed to give a strong hit of energy and nutrients, including lentils and legumes.
The unfussy, white breakfast harira is called Hssoua Belboula (literally meaning barley soup). Although the ingredients may not sound appealing to everybody; there is nothing better than a steaming hot bowl of white harira accompanied by a strong and spicy coffee to kick start your day, and your digestive system.
At the time our harira man arrives to the kitchen, the barley has already been soaking and boiling in a deep and large pan overnight. It is now softened enough to have the other ingredients added.
He begins by adding a generous helping of olive oil to the concoction, and giving it a quick stir.
Next he fills a slightly smaller pan with hot water, and places it on the stove next to the barley mix to bring to the boil. In the meantime, the spiced coffee is prepared and put on a low heat to simmer gently.
Once the second pan of water is boiling, it is taken off the heat and combined with two large bags of plain flour and an abundance of salt. It is whisked thoroughly to prevent any lumps in the flour, then added to the barley mix and stirred again, finally being left on the heat to thicken accordingly.
By 3.30am, the early birds are waiting at the door. The day’s first customers are generally the homeless in the area, who come to collect the free bowl of harira and a cup of spicy coffee that they are entitled to. In Islam, Zaqqat (charity) is generally given on a Friday; but in this harira outlet it is given everyday – those who are unable to pay for their own meal will be provided with breakfast on the house, without question or judgement.
After a sampling of the broth by the chef, at 4am (right on cue) the first people collect their bowl of harira to enjoy. A splash of milk, drizzle of olive oil and spoonful of cumin are usually chucked onto each helping; but it can be enjoyed without if this is your preference.
One bowl of warm harira and a coffee will generally set you back by 5 moroccan dirhams, but if you can afford to pay it forward and give some extra then it will really help the kitchen to continue offering free meals to those in need.
The Lcrésé family are famous amongst the locals in Marrakech, for their positive presence in the community.
In recent years, they established a successful restaurant, Atay; which is a popular hub amongst residents & tourists. They serve both traditional and continental dishes which are all prepared by their Moroccan chef, using fresh and locally sourced produce. Atay is located very near to both Riad Star and Riad Cinnamon and can be located easily by using the Marrakech riad travel App
Next door to Atay however, you can find their original eatery. This humble and open space is the hot spot for harira (beldi soup), which is served traditionally as a pre-breakfast appetiser or an evening meal starter.
The small cafe serves two types of harira, one red (harira hamra) which is made using fresh vegetables, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, pasta, plus a whole host of fresh herbs and spices.
The other harira which is served, is white (harira beda) and more plain in flavour. It is made with fine semolina, olive oil, grains, cumin and salt.
Harira is the breakfast of choice for many hard-working Moroccan people, as it is packed full of protein and nutrients.
It is also commonly eaten as the first meal at Iftar, during the Ramadan month. It is easy for the body to digest, and rich in vitamins that you need to make energy.
It is possible to find harira on the menu in most tourist restaurants; however it is highly recommended that you go to a street vendor such as the Lcrésé family joint, for an authentic flavour and experience. Here the harira is made in the proper way, left to cook and reduce slowly overnight without any corners being cut.
A bowl of hot harira & a cup of spiced coffee will set you back by around 3 1/2 dirhams.
You can also sit in the recently renovated space and watch the world go by, or perhaps even take your harira to the terrace of Atay and order some tea.
The best thing about this particular harira vendor, is that they provide free harira & coffee to those who are unable to pay for their meal. At 4am they begin serving a free breakfast to the street cleaners who work hard to keep Marrakech so beautiful.
In Moroccan society, very little goes to waste: raw scrap materials are re-used and recycled; leftover food is often donated to the poor and if something is broken it is always repaired and fixed. Perhaps these decisions are not always environmentally focused, but it is nice to see a society that would rather recycle, re-use and repair than replace. One such example of this ideology is a small boutique to the north of the Souks, just off the ‘Iron and Clay’ Medina walk on the Marrakech Riad app.
Whilst strolling through the Souks we were invited by Hamid, the shop’s owner, to take a look at the items he had for sale. He promised us something special and unique, something ‘unlike anything we had seen in Marrakech’. Although he was very friendly and welcoming, we were reluctant to enter his shop and expected the regular tourist spiel. However, after entering, we were pleasantly surprised with what the shop had to offer and we have to agree, his products were pretty unique.
Hamid picked up an old Nutella jar in his one hand and a glass container for cotton wool decorated with a delicate white iron case and matching lid. ‘Look’, he said, ‘can you see the difference?’ He then took off the ornate metal casing, and explained that this container had started it’s life as a jar of Nutella. Although it was not immediately obvious, everything he had for sale was an ingenious mix of recycled glass with traditional artisanal metalwork decoration. He then went through all his products, disassembling the item to explain how the glass had either been cut or the bottle’s lid had been utilised to fit the new purpose: there was an old olive oil jar had been ingeniously remade into a beautiful candleholder, a used medicine bottle that had been reincarnated as an ornately decorated bottle for cosmetics and a used perfume bottles that had been decorated with delicate white iron metal.
Hamid explained that he used to be an engineer – at one point living and working in England – but moved back to Marrakech to start his own business, as he wanted to work for himself. Initially the reclaimed glass was sourced for free, but as his business has grown he has had to approach larger recycling centres to buy the jars and bottles in bulk. He now owns 3 shops around the Medina and exports his products around the world, across Europe and beyond. However, everything is still hand-made by specially trained artisans in the Marrakech Medina, using traditional metalwork techniques to beautifully sculpt and design the white iron.
Hamid’s shop is located just off the ‘Iron and Clay’ Medina Walk on the free MarrakechRiad app; but it is well worth the short detour, especially if you are interested in bringing home a special memory of Morocco. Indeed, Hamid’s shop is the perfect destination to purchase a unique holiday gift or a special travel souvenir: his products are fairly inexpensive, very well made and, perhaps most importantly, good for the environment. If you would like to find out more about the free MarrakechRiad app, the ‘Iron and Clay’ walk or any of our other Medina walks then our Riad staff would be happy to help.
Dotted around the Medina in Marrakech is what at first glance looks merely like rundown household 70s tiled kitchens but be mistaken as they hold the source of a simple street food that feeds a large selection of the Marrakech population.
A large bowl of cooked potato’s and a separate dish of eggs make the basis of this wonderfully simple but delicious traditional meal. For 5 Dirhams (0.35p) you receive a sandwich that melts in your mouth. Freshly baked bread, delivered on motorbikes with enormous attached wicker baskets on their rear, populates these stalls several times throughout the day. These are filled in front of you with recently cooked hot potato and your choice of free range of warehouse eggs, with the addition of cream cheese if requested. Topped off with a helpful drizzling of beautiful fragrant olive oil and cumin, this is a Moroccan street food treat at its most basic level.
Visit number 110 (pictured) in the Jemaa El Fna mobile restaurant market for a more vibrant sit down culinary experience among the countless hungry locals. Although costing slightly more, 8 Dirhams/ 0.60p, this is the best place to feast on these Moroccan sandwich delicacies. You will not be disappointed.
As Marrakshi women will tell you, food and its preparation is more than just about eating. It is a lifestyle that brings together families, friends, and any visitors to this wonderful city that are open to new experiences.
Taking a freshly bought red onion in her hand and a knife in the other, away from any counter top, Fatima, the chef and henna artist of the Henna Café in Marrakech, begins frantically but precisely to chop lines in the onion one direction then the vertical other, barely missing her fingers and palm. Horizontally slicing the onion sprinkles perfectly regimental shaped pieces into a bowl which this time was mixed with tomato, olive oil, cumin and salt, making a very common and deliciously simple local Marrakshi salad.
Cutting an onion Marrakshi-style
A technique to be admired at by all and a symbol of an ingrained hospitable lifestyle, for this any for so many other reasons, the women of Marrakech are truly valued and prized possessions of this beautiful culture and further assist in making the city and its traditions the special experience that it is. Getting to know the hospitable riad staff of Marrakech-riad is truly insightful and offers a unique education into Marrakshi life and all it’s passions.
Just an hour and half by 50cc scooter with two people, or 45 minutes by car you can visit a manmade lake of tranquility and beauty steeped on one side by sloping banks intertwined with a small forest and on the other a plateau of barren but charming land. This is lake Lalla Takerkoust, which is a large reservoir supplying the local towns with pure but a little cold, mountainous water. Surrounded by the beautifully snow capped High Atlas Mountains, this is a place you can visit easily from your base in the Marrakshi Medina.
A little muddy in parts near to the water, but only in parts, this lake makes a perfect retreat for a morning stroll or sunny afternoon picnic where your company will be the occasional group of local children playing, or goat herders feeding their flocks on the grassy sides.
A little off the beaten track, but only adding to its secrecy and serenity, this is a surreal area, just beyond the village of Lalla Takerkoust, which is worth a visit for those wanting to escape the vibrant bustle of La Medina.
Leisurely exploring the area surrounding the lake, we came across a small village named Makhefamane which homes a dusty local highstreet with a few general grocery shops, crumbling mud and clay built houses, and some very happy, friendly and accommodating people.
Being invited into peoples homes seems like a national symbol of Marrakech and Makhefamane is no exception. Adballa approaches us mid cigarette as we look over the small football pitch that sits at the end of the village, and in some broken French and finger pointing we visit his home and wonderful family. They treat us to a Moroccan continental lunch of bread, olive oil, jam, butter and sugary tea while his wife feeds her 2 week old baby and his 6 year old daughter jumps around excited to practice the English that she has just learned in school that morning.
At the end of the village is Jnane Tihihit, an eco centre which houses a small diverse farm of seasonal agriculture and amazing array of animals, including some out of place pigs. We take a tour of the Belgian run site and come out feeling placid and inspired.
An example of why Morocco is such a diverse and culturally interesting place, and Marrakech, situated between the pictorially award winning and breathtaking Atlas Mountains, this country makes you see life in beautiful ways, and brings reality to a sense of what it actually is.
With breakfast looking out over Marrakchi rooftops and Atlas contours as your backdrop, Riad Cinnamon offers this plus a team passionately dedicated staff committed to making your stay in Marrakech one to remain with you forever.
Bissara is the Marrakech variant of Foul (pronounced ‘fool’) a puree based on fava beans. A wholesome entirely vegetarian and gluten free food Bissara has a wonderful buttery flavour and makes an excellent and substantial breakfast.
At Marrakech Riad Papillon and Marrakech Riad Cinnamon Bissara is seasoned in the traditional Marrakechi way with salt, pepper and cumin. We serve it with olive oil and fresh medina breads to allow our more adventurous guests to enjoy authentic Medina cusisine.
There are two types of crepes traditionally eaten as breakfast foods in Marrakech, Morocco, these are Baghrir and Mesman. Both are based on wheat flour with olive oil or butter and seasoning, Baghrir is cooked in a pan on one side only where Mesman is repeatedly folded over heat.
Contact Marrakech Riad today to reserve accommodaton!
Why not combine the best of our authentic hammam experiences in our small but perfectly formed hammam ‘beldi’ on the roof terrace of Riad Star? The Star package includes a hammam with rhassoul clay, a massage and an argan oil facial with cactus oil-Pampering fit for a star!
Your Star package will commence with the Hammam Rhassoul with Atlas clay. The 40 minute rejuvenating treatment commences with a deliciously warm and invigorating exfoliation process whilst seated or lying on a heated marble slab. A nutrient-packed traditional black olive soap (infused with herbs) is smoothed carefully over your entire body.
Next, the exfoliation process thoroughly removes dead skin and stimulates the circulation leaving you feeling totally rejuvenated.
Finally, a layer of nourishing ”Rhassoul” clay from the Atlas mountains mixed with rose water and herbal extracts is applied to your body. When the purifying clay is removed, your skin will feel pure, refreshed and extremely smooth-as soft as a newborn baby!
Then enjoy the massage of your choice: Invigorating massage, Relaxing massage, Rejuvenating, Essential oil or Hot oil massage with our talented masseuse: Pure body pampering for a full 60 minutes!
After your whole body is feeling relaxed then enjoy a delicious facial massage using argan oils and the prized Barbary cactus oil, rich in Vitamin E, to nourish and gently massage your face and scalp.
You can then relax in the garden roof terrace and enjoy the stunning views over Marrakech across to the majestic Atlas Mountains.
Request your preferred time for the ’Star Package’ appointment and the Riad Star team will contact you to confirm or offer you an alternative time.
Time: 120 minutes
Price: 1000 dirhams (you save 200 dirhams)
Our Princess or Pasha package is our most popular package in our small but perfectly formed hammam ‘beldi’ on the stunning roof terrace of Riad Star! This royal package combines the traditional hammam ’beldi’ with a 30 minute massage of your choice and a manicure or pedicure with hand or foot massage: Perfect for a Princess or Pasha!
First you will have a Traditional Hammam Beldi, which lasts about 40 minutes. This hammam experience begins with a deliciously warm and invigorating exfoliation process whilst seated or lying on a heated marble slab. A nutrient-packed traditional black olive soap infused with herbs is smoothed carefully over your entire body.
Next, the exfoliation process thoroughly removes dead skin and stimulates the circulation leaving you feeling totally rejuvenated. Your skin will feel refreshed and smooth-as soft as a newborn baby!
Next you will enjoy a wonderful massage of your choice for an hour of pure indulgence! Choose from: Invigorating massage, Relaxing massage, Rejuvenating, Essential oil or Hot oil massage with our talented masseuse: Pampering for a Princess or Pasha!
To give the finishing touch to your Princess or Pasha experience you will have the choice of a manicure or pedicure, which last around 20 minutes.
Pamper your hands or feet with a reviving soak, exfoliation and trim followed by a hand or foot massage using sensual oils to nourish and gently massage your hands or feet. Your massage is followed by an application of OPI nail varnish of your choice. Alternatively you can leave your nails with a natural look with a rejuvenating application of argan or cactus oil.
After your experience you can relax in the garden roof terrace and enjoy the stunning views over Marrakech across to the majestic Atlas Mountains.
Request your preferred time for the ’Star Package’ appointment and the Riad Star team will contact you to confirm or offer you an alternative time.
Time: 80 minutes
Price: 700 dirhams (you save 100 dirhams)
If you know Morocco, then you will likely be familiar with the ritual of the hammam. If you are not familiar with the word, then in essence it is a combined sauna and bath house. Hammam is an arabic word that roughly translates to “public bath place”.
In Marrakech, you are spoiled for choice in terms of the ways you can experience this form of self-care. Not only are there several luxurious spas offering this treatment (such as the spa at the Riad Star); but nestled into the winding walks which make up the ancient medina, you will also find a collection of local hammams which are still used by men and women on a weekly or daily basis. It is an experience you should treat yourself to when visiting Marrakech.
The process of the hammam is not dissimilar to that of a Turkish Bath. In fact the practice of this particular type of public bathing is generally associated with the Ottomon Empire, but is more widely practiced in the Islamic faith and countries where this faith is prevalent. In Islam, it is considered compulsory to be physically clean before beginning a dialogue with God in the method of prayer. Where feasible, Mosques will always provide a place to wash the face, hands and feet; but for those who feel compelled to undertake a more thorough cleansing, a hammam will usually be located close by. In Islam, washing the body under running water is preferred, as opposed to the way we bathe in more Western societies (by submerging ourselves in water).
The typical Moroccan hammam experience, will involve pouring plenty of warm water over your entire body inside a heated room, which rinses away any dust or dirt but also creates steam to soften the skin. Following this, the skin will be massaged with black soap which is a natural soap made from black olives and sometimes perfumes of jasmine, orange blossom or rose. The soap encourages dead skin to loosen, which is then gently removed by a method of scrubbing with a rough glove (known in local dialect as a “kees”). The dead skin is rinsed away with slightly warmer water, before the body is washed again with a bubbly and perfumed soap. Often and if you like, the hair is also washed with shampoo. In the local hammam, you will witness many different regimes as each person has his or her own preferences when it comes to washing. Without a doubt, the outcome of this experience is that the participant feels cleaner than ever before, and it is required that you take a restful period with food & water afterwards to rehydrate.
The local Moroccan hammams are gender segregated. Each neighbourhood has a man’s hammam & a woman’s hammam; and although the two might be found side by side, the men and women must never mix in this intimate and sacred space. There is an exception to this rule only in the instance that a young boy uses the hammam with his mother. There is no fixed age that is the cut off point when a young boy must move to the man’s hammam, but ultimately the decision is always made by the woman who is in charge of running that particular hammam.
The gender segregation of the spaces creates a multi-purpose function, particularly for the women’s hammam. You will notice in Morocco that privacy is hugely valued, and what goes on inside the home is totally separate to life on the streets. Women, when walking in public are most often covered from head to toe; the conversations they have on the street might be casual, friendly uttering between neighbours, but it is highly unlikely that they will delve into personal matters in a public place. Inside the home, women run the show; often known as “the queen of the house”. This role is taken very seriously, and a woman will not rest until home orders are in place, so it is also rare to see Moroccan women sitting out in cafe’s drinking coffee with their friends. As time moves on, and Morocco is influenced by visitors from around the world, as well as Western media – there are younger generations of women who are dissatisfied with this lifestyle and those young women are inspiring a change in the gender roles of men and women in Moroccan culture.
In the hammam, women can bare all in a physical and emotional sense. These windowless bath houses offer a sanctuary where women can unwind, cleanse their bodies and minds from the stresses of the week. This is a very important social space for women, where they are completely separate from men, and can share secrets with their confidants. As there is a local hammam in every neighbourhood, in fact almost in each derb (street); families will attend the same one for most of their lives.
The buildings consist of an entrance, where you can change, leave your dry belongings and drink a glass of water. Following on from this room are three simple chambers, the first you walk into is the coolest of the three rooms and it seems the least used area (apart from perhaps by women with young babies), but is a place to cool down gradually after the use of the hot rooms. The second room is warmer & as you make your way through each room the temperature rises by several degrees. It is typical that a person begins their hammam in the hottest room, sitting for perhaps 10 or 15 minutes before moving to a room with a slightly cooler and more comfortable climate. The hot room is used for oiling and scrubbing the skin, whilst the warm room is for soaping and washing after this treatment.
It is common to find that each room has a large domed ceiling, which is covered in small clear or coloured glass windows. These small openings for natural light create a beautiful soft lighting and ambience, eradicating the requirement of artificial light as well as maintaining a total sense privacy from the outside world. From the street it may be difficult to identify a local hammam, but from a rooftop terrace the domed roof is always a quick giveaway.
If you choose to have the local hammam experience, then you might wish to ask your hosts to recommend somewhere close by. As a tourist, you can expect to be charged up to 50 moroccan dirhams (5 euros) to use the space. Included in this price will be a full body scrub by a woman working in the hammam, and you can stay in the space for as long as you like.
There are several items which you should take yourself to the local (beldi) hammam. A pot of black olive soap (savon noir) can be purchased from most spice merchants; and although you can buy just a small amount in a plastic bag, it is perhaps advantageous to buy a resealable pot which has come from one of the co-operatives outside of Marrakech. This way you can take your black soap away with you after the hammam and use it again in the future.
You should also bring waterproof footwear such as a pair of flip-flops. In Morocco it is considered unhygienic and bad for your health to walk barefoot in the home or the hammam. In a practical sense, the flip-flops will stop you from slipping over on the wet floors. If you didn’t bring flip-flops with you on your vacation, they are available to purchase from street vendors for as little as 20 moroccan dirhams (2 euros).
You should also bring your own kis (pronounced kees), which is a rough scrubbing mitt. These are usually available to buy for a few cents in the spice market or local convenience stores, and some hammams will have them available to purchase. It is best to have your own and not to share, for hygiene reasons. These are reusable, so you can take them home with you if you enjoy the feeling of intensive exfoliation!
A small plastic mat or towel to sit on is essential. You can also purchase these plastic mats in the medina, or a yoga mat will suffice if you are travelling with one!
Finally you should bring your own soap and perfume, whatever your personal preference is. You can bring what you are travelling with, or a small amount of what is provided in your accommodation. It is advisable that you bring your own bottle of water too, as you will feel quite dehydrated by the end of your treatment.
If you are hoping for a more regal experience, then you might wish to try a spa hammam. These are readily available in Marrakech at various levels of luxury! As a tourist, this is a much more care-free way to enjoy the wonders of this tradition because everything is prepared and laid out into a wonderful, pampering package. All you need is yourself, and an hour or two of free time. There are various packages available and many of those will also include a relaxing massage to follow your wash and exfoliation. In most cases you will also be served a cup of tea and a sweet treat following your treatment too. This is a guaranteed delight, leaving you with a feeling of complete bliss.
If you are planning a trip to Marrakech, you can find out about the spa treatments available at Marrakech Riad’s, Riad Star. An abundance of carefully designed packages are available to suit your personal requirements and preferences. Our hammam in ambient and cosy, fully stocked with a variety of locally sourced, naturally perfumed soaps and oils by ‘Les Sens de Marrakech’ which will leave your skin feeling brand new!
Contact Marrakech Riad today to find out more…