This is one story that, you will think, is not exactly authentic for Novi Sad. But somehow, it is, and here’s how. The people of Novi Sad will remember that there was one place in Pašićeva Street that used to bring together young people … it was called Atrium. It’s just in that spot, some thirty years later, in December 2018, that a hamam was opened, and not only retained the name, but also the concept of space for relaxation and socialisation, however in a slightly different way. And so, an idea was born, inspired by the East, travelling, and the need for ultimate relaxation and hedonism. A story for all Novi Sad residents and visitors to Novi Sad.
What is the concept of a Moroccan hammam and what makes going to the steam room a special experience?
As strange as it may sound, Moroccan residents until recently haven’t been able to have personal hygiene at home, and have used public baths for these purposes. Going to a hammam has thus become a part of their culture and tradition, and an activity that Moroccans still practice today, not only for hygiene purposes but also as a ritual meeting place for all classes of the community. Unlike traditional hammams, the modern hammams are somewhat more equipped and luxurious and resemble spa centers, even located within hotel complexes, mainly in major cities and major tourist centres.
Our Novi Sad-Moroccan hammam brought a different story to our city. The experience begins the moment you enter the Atrium and close the door behind you. Then you realise that this is a whole new discovery, an explosion of experience for all senses! Colours, mosaics, shapes, flavors, smells, humidity, music… nothing tells you that you are in Novi Sad, except for the language you speak. There is nothing left for you to do but to relax and indulge… here you have certainly come to devote to yourself, to relax mentally and physically, to purify your body and mind.
So we decided to embark on a steamy adventure and get to know the feeling it brings. The warm welcome of the staff was not absent, and with cookies and floral-fruit-green tea, we first discussed the concept and operation of Atrium, as well as the treatment during the stay in the steam bath. As the name implies, this space is filled with dense steam, humidity is 100%, and the temperature is around 40C. While getting used to the idea of staying in this environment, we were offered several types of apricot, poppy, hazelnut, almond, sesame, and wheat germ oils, which are rubbed into the skin during treatment. Are we ready for that? Always!
Preparation for the steam bath continues in the dressing room. We were given disposable underwear, slippers and a towel, and with minimal clothing we stepped into the steam bath. It really is not all the same when you feel the first blast of warm air, which seems to continue to exert pressure on your body, making it moist and, somehow, fluid. It takes a few minutes to get used to the environment, it’s even desirable taking a shower, as well as hydrating with cold water with lemon served in a jug on the counter in the bathroom. We even liked to sit on the edge of the pool, put our feet in cold water, close our eyes and indulge in Moroccan sounds…
After an imaginary trip through the desert in the tropics, we lay down on a warm stone table behind the screen and let a couple of skilled hands treat the body. Foam is made in a bucket of water, then the body is soaped, massaged with a rough glove and then rinsed with lukewarm water. Finally, oil is applied to the skin, and the effects of the treatment are very visible, and noticeable, long after the treatment. This kind of pleasure lasts only ten minutes – but ten minutes during which it becomes quite clear that you just needed something like this!
It is difficult after this treatment to move the body and take it back to the dressing room. The path to the shower seems a long way off, with blurred eyes trying to regain the picture of reality. Showering with cold water after a steam bath is a partial solution to this, as one way to return to reality, but also for medical and cosmetic reasons. You have several options at this moment – to continue your treatment at the beauty salon (with an appointment with a beautician, hairdresser or barber), to have another massage or to simply indulge in the culinary delights of a newly opened Moroccan restaurant. Or, to simply walk out of “Atrium” into the cold winter air…
- A cold shower is recommended after a steam bath
- Bring along a hair band and remove your makeup before entering the steam room
- Everything you need for hamam is provided (towels, flip-flops, makeup oil, shampoo, hairdryer)
- If you want to use the services of a beauty salon, you need to book your treatment in advance
- Atrium teas, oils and chocolates can be purchased on site
- Other information can be found at Atrium’s official website
Authors: Jelena Farkić i Dragana Aritonović