I came out from an underground carpark in Cordoba with only my Costa del Sol thin jersey to protect me from the freezing air. I couldn’t help envying the fashionably dressed Cordobenses with their caps, scarves up to their noses, warm leather jackets and gloves. What’s the best way to keep warm in Córdoba? Head for the Arab Hammam Baths, right next to the Cordoba Mezquita in Calle Corregidor Luís de la Cerda 56, only 200 metres from the Mezquita and right next to the Guadalquivir river. What a relief to step out of the cold air blowing off the sierras above Cordoba into the warmth and pleasantly scented ambience of the Hammam reception.
Isabel the receptionist took my booking for an Arab bath session to include a back and feet massage with scented oils. I took myself off to read the morning papers over my breakfast coffee and tostados with olive oil and tomato in a nearby cafeteria. On my return at 2pm Isabel explained the facilities, a changing room, shower, warm bath, hot bath, steam room and the cold baths which could be repeated and varied as often as I liked during the hour and a half session. Isabel gave me a numbered wrist band for my massage and a generously sized towel.
Just off the reception is a little courtyard from which the changing rooms can be accessed. Changing into my swimming costume in the intimacy of wooden lattice worked partitions, I left my clothes in a secure locker and stepped straight into the Arab baths area. Soothing music, the sound of running water and scented warm air washed pleasantly over me. The square warm pool was lit with natural light through patterned skylights and five massage tables together with the hot rock table stood around the pool. I was the only one to swim lengths in the warm water pool, the other bathers preferred to sit on the submerged steps and talk quietly. I left my towel and water bottle that I had brought in on one of the poolside benches. Another couple sipped the minted Arab tea they had ordered.
The hot baths room leads directly off the pool area. I had been advised not to spend more than five minutes there. It isn’t easy to keep track of time in the very relaxing atmosphere of the candlelit room. After soaking myself in the hot baths, I moved on to the steam room and followed my session there with total immersion in the freezing cold tubs which left me gasping for breath. It was a relief to get back into the warm pool and start the circuit again.
Sitting by the pool Emi my masseur called me and offered me a choice of aromatic oils, I chose rosemary and was given a very gentle and relaxing massage on my back and legs. Emi suggested having a shower before continuing. I could have easily stayed there the whole afternoon but I had a two hour drive back to Marbella. Isabel was happy for me to take a photo in reception, cameras are not allowed in the bathing area and the young couple making a booking were pleased to pose for my photo. When I came out, the sun was shining and I felt very pleasantly warm and relaxed. I highly recommend the Arab Hammam baths in Cordoba as a very pleasant way of spending a couple of hours. In summer, you will definitely need to make a reservation. Remember to bring a swimming costume.
The circular bus operating out of Cordoba Bus Station will get you very close to the baths right next to the Mezquita. I’ll add in the addresses of the other Hammams in Andalucia, I’ll definitely be visiting them soon.
Hammam Arab Baths in Cordoba
Calle Corregidor Luis de la Cerda, 51, 14003 Córdoba.
Tel: 902 333 334