The earliest recorded hammam—meaning hot water in Arabic, but pertaining to an ancient bathing ritual—in Morocco dates back to the eighth century. Its ruins can still be seen at the Roman site of Volubilis, about an hour and a half from Fes
. Hammams have been an integral part of Moroccan life ever since, particularly for women as a place to meet and socialize free of any class biases. For anyone looking for an authentic glimpse into this world, a public hammam is the way to go, but, for a couple of hours peaceful pampering look no further than Narcisse, a modern, women-only, unapologetically middle class hammam located it in the heart of the Ville Nouvelle. Narcisse opened in 2012 to cater to growing demand for an authentic hammam experience coupled with the luxe factor of a spa. It quickly built a reputation among locals as the best in town. Each of the private treatment rooms is equipped with two, free-standing, heated marble slabs—so you can have a treatment with a pal. A team of highly expert women who administer the lauded gommage
(the traditional scrub-down using a lightly abrasive kessa mitt) that the Moroccan hammam is most celebrated for. Expect to be lavished with scented traditional beauty products including olive oil black soap, eucalyptus-infused exfoliators, ghassoul (white clay) mixed with rose water, as well as orange blossom water-based shampoos and conditioners. In contrast to the rudimentary gommage performed at many of the hammams found in hotels, Narcisse’s most basic gommage lasts a full hour and costs just 150 dirhams (about $15). To feel completely reborn, splurge on the decadent 2.5-hour Hammam Narcisse, which includes a 30-minute relaxing massage, a facial, and hand and feet treatments for 450 dirhams (about $45).