BEAUTY GOES “VIRTUAL REALITY” – RITUALS LAUNCHES “MY HAMMAM” EXPERIENCE #MARRAKECH

“Oh how was your hammam?” I asked a lovely woman on a Marrakech spa press trip with me a few years ago.  “I don’t know to be honest?!” she replied. “A man came in and chucked water over me while I was half naked!”

I’ve never done the hammam thing, it’s just not my thing (like saunas) – sharing humid spaces with other people, assertive rub-downs, or sports massages. Just like tagines and busy medinas – not my thing.

While Katie was having her hammam experience, I’d (luckily) opted for a more stress-melting massage which was absolute heaven. Hard to get off the massage table when you’re in another world. Afterwards, we sipped some tea by a luminous, low-lit indoor pool feeling very lucky and more than a bit guilty that our “job” for the weekend was visiting three of Marrakech’s top spas with Visit Morocco’s wonderful, funny, charming PR director who’d flown over from London to meet us. It was the best of weekends. Beauty treatments, lush gardens, great food and exquisitely gorgeous interiors. So much design inspiration, so little time. 1001 nights in 48 hours. I’ll never forget it.

For a long weekend (particularly in winter) Marrakech is hard to beat. It slows you down…shopping for sequinned straw bags and long silver Berber rings…sipping a “nuss-nuss” half milk, half coffee in chic Gueliz, watching the world go by.  You really feel like you’ve been away, pampered by handsome, quiet, courteous waiters and concierges and woken in the morning by the happiest birds on the planet and the sweetest, freshly-squeezed orange juice. Bustling medina adventures or a relaxed clip clop around Marrakech’s beautiful garden and pavement cafe neighbourhoods…you choose

If you’re staying longer, don’t miss the chance to get to Essaouira for a day or two. In Morocco’s chilled out kitesurf and camel fishing village time slows down to a near-grinding halt the minute you get there and the medina is much easier to navigate. It’s not much over a two hour drive west of Marrakech in a taxi but there are coaches and shuttles, too.

Sun, sand, seagulls, surf, souk, storytelling and open hearts…hello beautiful Essaouira!

If I’m missing the sea, I’ll sometimes watch some ocean meditations and during the recent heatwave I found myself craving Japanese forest bathing videos, longing for the deep green coolness of tall trees and contact with nature when it was too warm to function optimally let alone work.

So the news that Dutch brand Rituals has introduced their virtual “My Hammam” experience is pretty interesting. To celebrate the relaunch of Rituals’ Hammam range, you can treat yourself to a Morocco-inspired hammam ritual VR experience at selected stores. From London to Marrakech in 10 seconds thanks to a pair of goggles.

I have a hunch this virtual reality escape concept is going to become a trend, a way to switch off, in some ways similar to aromatherapy “anchoring” (using scents to bring you back to happy or safe places and times – like that rose fragrance you wore at your wedding or the lavender pouches in your bedroom at that little gite in the south of France).

For me it’s fig that takes me back to some of my happiest days.  In Greece…lazy lunches under a fig tree. Slow, languid days with barely an agenda, lightly filled with morning swims in the sea, pre-lunch beach walks, cooling Greek salads, siestas and long, lantern-lit beach bar nights). One whiff of Diptyque’s fig fragrance and I’m there again, tucking into a tiropita, spanakopita and horiatiki salata (village salad) under that tree…

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