Last month, I was in Tangier, Morocco, and had my first ever hammam in a hotel (I’ll try the local hammam next time!) I loved the experience, so came back wanting to find an equivalent in London. A few days later, an offer from Crystal Palace Spa landed in my inbox. I couldn’t resist buying this for my partner’s birthday.
The hammam is in the basement of a well appointed contemporary hair and beauty salon. We were welcomed warmly and invited downstairs where we found a relaxation area under the stairs. This was well furnished, and felt rather like an old first class tube carriage! We were offered drinks and accepted a glass of water each, before being taken through to the changing area to get ready. From other reviews, I understand this room is an improvement over the previous facility. It’s spacious enough for a few people to change at once, and there are plenty of lockers.
The downside is it’s very stuffy, especially when full of steaming bodies fresh from the hammam! The therapist asked if we’d brought swimming costumes; I was disappointed, having enjoyed the freedom of a naked hammam in Morocco. However, it became clear to me that the layout of the facilities probably requires a cover-up as one moves between the steam room (left), the bath room (right) and the showers, whereas in Morocco the rooms were all together in a private suite. We began in the Caldarium steam room, which was heated only very slightly about body temperature, and a Moroccan mud mask was applied for us, all over our faces and bodies. We were left to steam in it gently for about fifteen minutes, before being led to the showers to rinse it off. We were then taken to the gorgeous Turkish bathroom, where we lay down together on the super-sized marble slab (there was just enough room for both of us!) and were scrubbed to within an inch of our lives with the traditional Kese, first back, then front, then arms and legs.
After liberal rinsing with buckets of warm water, we enjoyed a foam massage, again front and back, and another rinse. I was comfortable on the slab, but my partner found it a bit hard for such a long treatment, with only a folded cloth serving as a pillow. We then returned to the Caldarium; this time, the room was in full steam, with a gorgeous eucalyptus scent. We stayed for about ten minutes (total treatment time was about 1h10) although I think we could have stayed a bit longer, I know that the facilities were booked for us for 1h30. After another shower, we dressed and returned to the relax area, where we enjoyed mint tea before venturing out again into London, feeling very clean and nicely relaxed.
Plus points: Beautiful steam and bath rooms; it felt very luxuriant to get it to ourselves, it might have been a bit lonely on my own, but perhaps I could get used to it
Minus points: Cramped and stuffy changing room; relax area is very close to the staff room, so not as tranquil as it might be.
Overall: The treatment prices are well priced for such a quality experience in London, and the spa menu has a wide variety. I’ll definitely be back – perhaps in the winter when I’m in need of warming up!