The oriental sounds of a flute meet me as I enter the hammam. Could this be Aladdin’s boudoir? While the sweet scent of incense fills my head with images of the stories of One Thousand and One Nights, I meet with two smiling ladies in transparent blue veils.
They guide me to a dimly lit hall, where Prince Aladdin is waiting for me. He bows for me and offers pink-coloured sweets from a bowl in his hands. “Welcome. Please sit down”, he beckons. While I eat the whole bowl of candy, he gently massages my feet.
A Moroccan dream
Ok… This only happens in Scheherazade’s tales right? Or…? Good news: there are two hammams in Kuala Lumpur, where you can feel like a Moroccan prince or princess for a moment.
What is a hammam? The word hammam is Arabic and literally means ‘heat diffuser’. It is also a bath house that traditionally served as a social meeting place. Like Facebook ‘avant la lettre’? The very first bath houses were found with the ancient Romans as well as in the Arab world.
Wearing nothing but a smile at Hammam Publika
A visit to the hammam in Publika is a special experience. My personal favourite here is the Prince/Princess Hammam. It starts with a gommage (an exfoliation of the skin) and finishes with a 45 minutes massage afterward. It feels to me like a total body cleansing.
After changing into a bathrobe and slippers you will be taken to the hararet, a warm room filled with steam. Here you lie more or less naked – beside a tiny, tiny slip – on a warm stone table where you are completely soaped in from head to toe with scented olive oil. Yes, from-head-to-toe… I have to say, so far I have been on my own in the treatment room and oh how I did enjoy that sense of privacy!
After a 10 minutes ‘simmer’, your therapist will then scrub you all over with a rough glove. She will rinse you down with warm water and you will notice that your skin feels incredibly soft. If you want, you can also have your hair washed. After the bath ritual you will be offered a cup of sweet tea in the camekan, the relaxation room. And off to the massage room you go. Blissful… my idea of what pampering should be!
Prices for the different hammam options start from MYR 98 for the foot ritual. Have a look here at their menu or have a look at their FB page here for more info. The hammams in Publika and Bangsar are open Monday till Sunday from 10am till 10pm. Yastamtah, enjoy!
“A town is incomplete without a Hammam” – Sherazade, A Thousand and One Nights
If you want to know how other readers think about pampering, have a look at our article here.