A magnificent experience in the Hammam Al Andalus, Arab baths right in the center of Málaga that allow us to relax and free our minds.
One of the most appreciated gifts someone could give me is a pass to go to a spa for a day. In our crazy world full of internet, Twitter, FaceBook and Instagram, what I think we are all looking for is a way to slow down and disconnect. You might have to drag me away from my computer or remind me twelve times not to post a photo to my Twitter feed in the moment, but it is what we need and desperately miss from only a few decades ago. (And yes, I do remember that time, I am a child of the early 80’s).
Wanting a spa escape is nothing new. In fact, it is a tradition that has been around for thousands of years and crosses cultures. The Hammam, or public bath, was one of the main hubs of social activity in the Islamic world. Although the idea of bathing came from an act of religious purification, it was also a place where people could come to meet friends, rest or relax. In Medieval Spain there were a lot of these baths; and the Hammam Al Andalus in Málaga tries to recreate a bit of that history.
We visited the Hammam on an overcast morning in early March. It was a two cups of coffee sort of morning, and the idea of a spa and a massage was more appealing than ever. As soon as we arrived at the Hammam Al Andalus, I felt like I was stepping into another world. The lobby smelled of wonderful oils, the humid air enveloped me and I willingly let go of my worries and stress at the door.
We were given little blue booties to cover our shoes and they escorted us downstairs to the changing rooms. Here we were told to leave our belongings in the lockers and come out barefoot wearing our bathing suits. We were told that the baths had different rooms: The main room, in the center was the warm room. This was traditionally where people spent most of their time. There is also a cold room, hot water room, and “stove” room which is similar to a sauna. We were free to roam about as we wished, and when it was time for our massage, the masseuse would come to find us.
We started our spa experience in the center room. It was so quiet that you were instantly transported back in time. One of the most impressive rooms in the Hammam, the center room has gorgeous tile work and an impossibly high ceiling with a skylight. The light is dim and calming, although I am already thinking about going back for the nighttime session. It would be magical to be in such a special place looking up at the stars. All around, the tiles are painted with a traditional pattern, based on the historic Nazari designs. The decoration adds to the general feeling of being transported to another place and time, far away from the modern city that lies just steps away.
Reluctantly, I left the warm bath of the center room for a very quick dip in the cold pool, which is darker, in a little corner of the Hammam. The area is covered in cool blue and aqua tones, which I can imagine is very inviting during the hot summer months. As it was, I had to work up the courage to submerge my body in the cold water. It was worth it, however. Once I got back to the warm bath I felt renewed and in a bit, it was time to move on to the hot bath.
My favorite room in the Hammam was the hot room. The light is very low only shining through small star shaped openings in the roof and the pool is surrounded by pillars that echo the magical rooms I’d seen at the Alcazaba in Málaga and the Alhambra in Granada. I could have stayed in that room all day, transported to another time and place.
We also enjoyed a 15 minute massage, although there are different packages to choose from when you book your time at the Hammam. We were asked to choose a scented oil for the massage and lay down to relax. Afterwards we were invited to enjoy some traditional “té moruno” (a sweet tea served in beautiful silver colored tea pots). We sat on the benches in a corner and enjoyed just being in the moment. In fact, the whole Hammam has a lot of little corners and rooms so that you can feel like you are socializing, but also have an intimate experience or loose yourself in relaxation if you come alone.
At the end of the visit, they rang a gong and we went back to the changing room to shower and get dressed; a transition back into the outside world made a bit easier by the beautifully decorated mirrors and calm that had spread over us all in the 90 minutes we spent at the Hammam Al Andalus. In the past, the Hammams were a meeting point for the Muslim, Christian and Jewish civilizations in Spain. I can honestly say, that we need to bring this tradition back and take advantage of such a unique and very special place in our own city. We ruskommend Hamman Al Andalus Málaga with 5 boquerones. They say that the Hammam Al Andalus was created in a “quest to recover the lost traditions of the past and the magic of water.” And that’s exactly what it is. Magic.
**We were invited to visit the Hammam by The Hammam Al Andalus Malaga. In no way were we swayed to write a positive review. As always, all opinions are our own.
Information about the Hammam Al Andalus Málaga
Ruskommendation for The Hammam Al Andalus Málaga: 5 boquerones
- Address: Plaza Mártires, 5, 29008 Málaga, Spain
- Telephone: +34 952 21 50 18
- Prices: According to the service
- Hours: Open year-round. Daytime sessions: 10am-12pm-2pm-4pm; Evening sessions: 6pm-8pm-10pm