My hammam experience at Aire de Sevilla Arab baths

sevilla arab baths

The Aire de Sevilla Arab baths offer some of the most luxurious facilities in Andalucía to enjoy this long lost custom. In addition to the traditional hammam (steam room), you can also dip into different hot and cold pools and enjoy, of course, a wide range of relaxing massages.

Be sure to book your treatment in advance to ensure there is space available during your stay in Seville. Save time, and avoid the hassle of last minute decisions.

This fully restored casa palacio was built by a viceroy of the Indies in the 16th century. Located in the heart of the Barrio de Santa Cruz, this magical place is a mixture of cultures and old civilizations. The building has ancient Roman vaults, mudejar carved ceilings and decoration elements brought back from the Americas.

Rest your muscles with a dip in the hot thermal bath, and stimulate your senses with a splash in the cold pool before decompressing either in the warm pool or in the salt bath located underground. Sit back imagining the old times when the Romans or the Arabs would stay for hours, discussing their lives and relaxing. It’s the ultimate revitalizing experience…

What are the Aire de Sevilla Arab baths?

The Arab baths or hammam as they are called in Arabic is one of the oldest and most relaxing traditions Spain inherited after almost 8 centuries of Moorish rule. Actually, Arabs retook this custom from the Byzantines and those from the Romans who used public baths for hygiene and to socialize. Unfortunately, it was banned by Christians after 1492 because they believed that baths were a decadent and heathen behavior.

As in the old times, the Arab baths in Seville have a typical hammam structure with 4 rooms:

  • Albayt al Maslaj or entrance hall. A vestibule to leave the clothes in and where the toilet would be located.
  • Albayt al Banid or cold room (also called frigidarium in Latin).
  • Albayt al Wastani or warm room (tepidarium in Latin).
  • Albayt al Sajuno or hot room (caldarium in Latin).

In Seville, the structure is identical with some interesting add-ons like the steam room, the hydromassage pool and the salt pool. The idea is to act as Romans, Byzantines and Arab did -relax, keep clean and keep up with the latest news, so to speak. Ultimately, the objective is to run away from the noise and stress outside and chill out while having a nice time in a silent and half-light space.

“The quiet music, dark lighting, delicious tea, perfumed air, and multiple pools and steam/sauna options to bounce between make it a very relaxing experience.” — Jackie, Australia

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Experiencing the Aire de Sevilla Arab baths treatment

My morning starts with an early arrival at the Aire de Sevilla premises. I don’t want to be late because I intend to feel and live every single minute of this promising water treatment. As soon as I get there and check-in at the reception I am asked to go upstairs and wait until it’s 10:00.

A few minutes before 10:00, a member of the staff welcomes me and leads me through a beautifully carved wooden door and then to the locker room. Inside, there is a large room with everything that you may need -your own locker with a towel, showers, changing rooms, toilets, washbasins and even a couple of hairdryers.

Now that I have my bathing suit on, my lovely guide takes me through the whole circuit explaining each and every pool, the water temperature, how much time I should stay in and the features of each treatment. At first, I am surprised by a soft relaxing music played everywhere and by the glittering candle-lit rooms. It takes a few minutes until my eyes get used to such a dark place.

After the complete explanation, I decide to help myself to a cup of hot tea and lay down in the common area while contemplating the majestic-looking archways and the rest of the Arab decoration. I am alone so I have the room for myself. I close my eyes and feel in heaven.

But since this is a water treatment, I realize it’s time to go to the pool! I take a quick warm shower and go to the warm pool. This is the biggest pool of the building and the red walls are beautiful. A couple of Arab lamps hang from above; everything is lit with candles and the windows have wooden carved structures. It’s so romantic…

I notice there are two other people in the pool but we are all quiet, respecting the silence rules prevailing in all pools and rooms. I lay down again and discover that the ceiling has several wooden beams. This place is a real palace and now I’m the princess living in it!

After 10 or 15 minutes (I don’t really know because I lose track of time during the whole experience), I get into the warm pool. Hmmm, it’s really hot but after a few minutes my body gets used and I feel it warm. And there I go relaxing again on my own.

“Hidden down tiny side streets, the simple doorway opens up into an oasis of calm and relaxation. We pre-booked online, a 2-hour slot with 15 min massage, escaping the 104ºF [40ºC] heat of the day. You cannot fail to float out at the end in a state of deep calm. Don’t miss!” — Brandon, USA

Despite I try to ignore it, it’s time to go to the cold pool.

It’s rather small and it has several steps going deep into the water. As soon as my toes touch the freezing water I feel a light tingling but as I go deeper the feeling is much stronger. Once the water reaches my hips I breath deeply and immerse my whole body up to the neck. Wow! I have the impression that my veins are larger and my blood circulates faster. I have to admit that I’m not capable of staying crouched down more than 2 or 3 minutes but it feels terribly good to exit slowly from the cold water.

I decide to enter the warm pool, and while I am looking for a spot to stay quiet and relax a staff member waves to me that it’s time for my relaxing massage. I go out of the pool and take my towel while the girl leads me to a dark room with several massage tables. The music keeps playing, there are candles in every corner and I’m asked if I want a strong, medium or light massage.

The massage starts at my toes and it goes up, very slowly until the massage therapist reaches my head. It is a 15-minute massage but time goes by so fast I have the impression that was a 2-minute one!

My body is bathed with a nice smelling oil and I take a shower before heading to the common area to have another cup of tea. I can’t wait to go downstairs and try the salt pool. When I get there I realize that I have the whole pool for me again so I enter the water and start floating freely. I could have stayed there forever. It is definitely my favorite one.

After a long while there, I finally go to the hydrotherapy pool to shake my body a bit and start awakening. The bubbles and jets are great and quite strong. Once this invigorating session is done I go to the steam room. I can’t see a thing but since there is no one (again) I can lay down anywhere. My skin gets softer and my airways are completely open. Five minutes later, I refresh myself and go to the dressing room.

I can’t believe it’s over and that I have spent 2 hours inside the pools. I shower, change myself and exit the building with the sensation that I’m floating around. My legs feel lighter and I can’t concentrate on anything. All I can think about is this amazingly relaxing morning…

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12 tips for an incredible Sevilla Arab baths experience

Unfortunately, at certain days of the week and certain times of the day, the Sevilla Arab baths can be full. This means sharing the pools with more people and risking a less silent time. However, you can still have the baths almost on your own if you

  • Avoid weekends, particularly Saturday and Sunday afternoon. The 10:00 shift may be a bit quieter though.
  • Should your planning permit it, I truly recommend going there early in the morning (10:00) or in the afternoon (14:00) when most people are either working, visiting or having lunch.
  • Mondays to Thursdays are best.
  • Don’t be late. The staff won’t wait for your and you will spend less time in the pools.
  • All you need is your swimming gear. And if you don’t have one, you can purchase a swimming suit at the reception.
  • Take your towel with you everywhere, you will need it after the shower and to dry yourself after exiting the pools.

Despite you will be given a full briefing on how to use correctly the pools, here is some insider’s advice to take the best out of your visit at the Arab baths.

  • Don’t stay more than 10 minutes in the hot pool. You could feel a bit dizzy afterwards.
  • Try to plunge your full body into the cold pool. The tingling you will feel is completely normal. If you can’t make get inside down to the neck, try to plunge up to the hips and moisten your shoulders, elbows and wrists.
  • Don’t miss the salt pool, located underground (one floor below the rest of the pools). It’s usually quieter and it’s a real Arab bath completely restored. Moreover, the high salt concentration is beneficial for your body. Float around freely…
  • If you book a relaxing massage and it’s possible, ask the staff to have your massage at least 30 minutes after you enter the pools. The experience will be much more rewarding.
  • When using the hydrotherapy pool, take advantage of every jet. It’s quite invigorating.
  • Don’t panic at the hammam. The steam is very thick and practically don’t see ahead of you but it’s normal. Find a spot to seat or lay down and don’t stay more than 10 minutes inside. Before exiting, use the cold water tap and moisture your face and neck. The calming mint vapors soothe your airways.

Why booking a Sevilla Arab baths treatment?

You should definitely book the treatment if you

  • Look for an authentic place to cool down and relax
  • Want to feel the art of the senses
  • Like silent environments

On the contrary, do something else because

  • You don’t like plunging in the water
  • Pampering isn’t your sort of thing
  • You prefer an outdoors activity

“I booked this to destress at the beginning of my holiday and I’m so glad I did. The spa is lovely, clean, atmospheric, lovely pools and an amazing massage. The different pools are a delight and I’m hard pressed to say which was my favourite, as I loved both the hot pool and the salt water pool.” — Susan, UK

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Disclosure: The owners kindly invited me to experience a complete thermal bath treatment and a relaxing massage so the following paragraphs are a full review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

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