January 15, 2015

Málaga: The Jasmine Palace

Did we really have to leave?

The soft notes of a triangle signaled the end of our session.

We looked around. No one really noticed us in the dark corner of the upstairs veranda room of rest. Just enough time for one more cup of delicious mint green tea....

The last two hours had been smooth and peaceful, silently dipping into warm waters and deeply breathing in the aromas of jasmine and lavender.

The only bad part of our experience at the Hammam Al Ándalus Málaga was that it had to end.

When my husband and I entered through the carefully detailed Moorish arches, we let the soothing ambiance of the hammam take over.

The comfortable dressing rooms welcomed us with easy-to-use lockers and every necessary restroom amenity available: mirrors, sinks, hair dryers, benches, toilets, and showers. The hammam attendants gave us our towels and guided our transition from the dressing rooms into the baths.

It took only one flight of beautiful dark wood steps to transport us to another time and place.

A deep inspiration of botanical warmth relaxed our senses and loosened our muscles. It was the scent of jasmine, emanating from the many candles throughout the hammam.

Most hammams and bath houses have defined schedules and routes for the guests to take. One of the many inviting aspects of the Hammam Al Ándalus is the freedom to be in whichever rooms or pools one wishes at any given time. The movements of the guests become leisurely and quiet; you go where your senses take you.

A proper bath house experience always begins with a shower rinse, then a sauna or hot room to prepare the skin to be deeply cleansed and for warmer temperatures. The hot room in this hammam included a sauna, a steam room, and a hot pool (40° C).

The sauna and steam room were both exceptionally clean and warming. A steam room releases toxins from the body, and best acclimates the body for the next stages of the bath house.

My body followed my toes into the circular hot pool, and I sat restfully with my shoulders propped along the watery edges. I closed my eyes and leaned my head back. A moment or two passed before I had the pleasure of opening my eyes to the stars.

Yes, the stars. There were delicately cut stars in the domed ceiling above me, letting in the gentle light from above.

The warm room (36° C), housing the main square pool, was a scene straight out of an Arabian palace. The intricately crafted Moorish columns and symmetry echoed of the Alhambra. The jasmine was the strongest in this space, flickering its aroma from the candled lanterns around the pool. The high windows in the square-cut dome let in light that reflected flawlessly off of the soft tans and creams of the walls.

The upstairs veranda faced inward to this square courtyard pool, where we could find soft colorful cushions and tables with hot tea waiting for us. A relaxing pool (cooler than the main warm pool, but still warmed by the geothermal heating system) at one end of this upstairs room of rest lent a more intimate setting in the shadows.

Back downstairs was also the cold room (18° C), with two small pools on either end for a quick cooling bathe.

You can opt to include a 15-minute or 30-minute relaxing massage, or the traditional kessa scrub on hot stone into your time in the hammam as well. We highly recommend both of these experiences, as much for the cleansing and relaxing aspects of the massages as for the pleasure in selecting your preference in essential oils. The aroma area has four heavenly scents and descriptions to choose from: red amber, lavender, rose, and the specific scent to Málaga, jasmine.

I chose to go with the jasmine for my 15-minute massage, and my husband's kessa scrub was with a red grape soap. My massage warmly relieved my aching legs and back from all of the walking we had done previously during our trip. The soft table had a comfortable face rest, and the masseuse knew exactly how to diffuse the stress out of my shoulders and leg muscles.

My husband described his kessa scrub as "a deep cleansing massage with soap and a kessa cloth." He started by laying on his back on a cloth covered warm stone table. The masseur poured warm water over him, then rubbed the soap into his limbs; from ankle to thigh and then shoulder to wrist. Then taking another wet towel mixed with soap, the masseur held two corners and flung the towel into the air, catching the other two corners to make a bubble.

"The artistry of the masseur with the towel was incredible as he squeezed out the frothy lather all over me," my husband said. This soap frosting process was then repeated as he laid on his stomach, and the masseur scrubbed his limbs again and also his back. These additions to the baths really round out the entire experience.

We had a few more moments to be in the pools before our time would expire. I revisited the steam room and the warm pool to inhale another long draft of jasmine before ascending to the veranda for that final cup of tea.

The notes of the triangle whispered their soft reminder to return to the real world. We were sad our time at the Hammam Al Ándalus Málaga was over. But one great realization swept over me and made me smile again.

It didn't matter if we left. This palace of jasmine would always welcome us back.

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Hammam Al Ándalus Málaga is located in the historical center of Málaga.
For more European travel experiences from Christy Swagerty and Marc Vilas, come visit What Up, Swags?!

We agreed to promote the Hammam Al Ándalus Málaga in exchange for a complimentary experience.
All opinions and views are our own.

Photos provided by Hammam Al Ándalus Málaga marketing department.
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