Stepping off the plane, greeted by the warm breeze then the first glimpse of town; glittering palm trees lining sun washed pink buildings — that’s all it took to induce instant amorosity. I’d found my dream city. A kaleidoscope of colours, colorfully adorned locals, the sound of bartering echoing from the bazaars, pots and pans preparing tagines, the smell of spices on every street corner. Winding through the Medina, transporting me to some magical ancient land piled with treasures of all kinds.
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Green tiles, palms and tableware, Le Jardin is a cool oasis from the sunburnt colours of Morocco’s street. Set in a renovated 16th century building and tucked away behind an unassuming door, this little jewel serves up contemporary Moroccan food — from cooling melon and cucumber gazpacho, grilled sea bream and beetroot and orange blossom salad for mains.
For a tranquil break from the bustle of the streets, head to Nomad. There’s four levels of contemporary interiors to match the modern Moroccan menu. Two terraces overlook the Medina and Atlas Mountains, a view made even more beautiful at sunset while sipping on a mint and orange tea.
A quiet shaded courtyard restaurant that’s not only a great spot for delicious traditional food like pear gazpacho, cheese cigars and tagines, but it’s also a not-for profit with a great cause. Amal empowers disadvantaged women with a hopeful future through culinary training. A feel good spot with lots of shade to escape from the hot Marrakech sun, they also offer cooking classes on a Monday.
Catch a dreamy afternoon sunset on the shaded rooftop at Atay Cafe, a ridiculously photogenic setting for some traditional Moroccan Food overlooking the Medina. If there’s one thing you order, make sure it’s the vegetable or Lamb Tagine.
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Wandering through the souks in the old central part of the city, past donkeys, spices, lanterns and carpets piled high. It’s a lot for the eyes to take in, so put aside a good chunk of time to enter friendly conversations before the price negotiations begin. For those looking for a deal, the souks are much cheaper in the towns outside of the city.
On the edge of Marrakech
The outskirts of Marrakech are equally as charming as the Medina. It’s so easy to lose track of time and spend hours taking photographs at El Badi Palace or wandering Gueliz; a modern hip French influenced neighbourhood. A day trip to the palm oasis ‘The Palmeraie,’ is another beautiful drive on the outskirts of Marrakech. Nearby you’ll find the Dar Sabre – an art filled luxury hotel with a sculpture garden — an ideal spot for a massage, or a swim in the pool.
A trip to Marrakech wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the LRNCE studio. Originally from Belgium, designer Laurence Leinhardt has a gift for creating the most covetable homewares. Collaborating with local artisans, she makes her mark on everything from canvas, ceramics, shoes, carpets, bed linen and sun chairs.
If you can peel yourself away from intoxicating Marrakech, it’s well worth taking two scenic road trips - inland to the Atlas Mountains to see Ouzoud Falls and coastal to the blue and white beach town of Essaouira for a seafood lunch on the Taros rooftop. These can be done in a day but are both stunning areas to explore if you have more time. Allow yourself an extra week to explore the Sahara if you can, it was something I regrettably ran out of time to do.
Le Bain Bleu
Hidden in the Medina is Le Bain Bleu, a traditional Hammam spa treatment that will wash the day’s activities off however you see fit, whether it’s a marine and pink seaweed mask, or the traditional African black soap and eucalyptus body scrub.
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Le Riad Berbere
Walking down dark winding laneways and stepping through colossal wooden doors into Le Riad Berber is a tranquil contrast to the lively hum of Marrakech. One of many, there’s endless Riad’s to choose from in Morocco, all completely unique, but equal in their beauty. This one’s marked by luxe Moroccan interiors, a magnolia garden and a sparkling blue pool in the centre of the Riad to cool down in.
After driving 9 hours into the Sahara, you’ll find a Berber village dotted with palm trees where the dreamy Kasbah Aitisfoul lives. A beautifully designed red earth boutique lodge with private Berber tents so you can spend some time in the elements under an unpolluted starscape in the desert.
The L’ma Lodge is a five hour drive, tucked away in the palm groves and fruit trees of Skoura near Ouarzazate, a city otherwise known as “the door of the desert.” The lodge has all the luxuries you’d ever want, combined with an ancient and authentic feel that’ll transport you way back in time.
The Berber lodge
The Berber Lodge is the work of a French-Swiss interior designer Michael Maniere who’d been living in Morocco since 2002. A beautiful mixture of Morocco combined with a European sensibility, every angle of this place is photographable and looks like something from a Pinterest vision board; an exquisite combination of modern nostalgia.
There aren’t many times in life you’ll find yourself in a white canvas tent in the middle of the desert. That’s precisely why Scarabeo camp is worth the visit — but certainly not the only reason. Beyond the novelty of its location, the oriental inspired tents look like something out of an old story book with their canvas roofs, world globes and gas lanterns, and old suitcases next to the bed — staying out here is an experience unto itself.
- Make sure you pick up a sim card just off the main square El Fna, google maps doesn't show all the twists and turns of the medina but it certainly helps
- It’s worth the extra $$ to get the pass to all three of these places: Le Jardin Marjoelle, YSL Museum an the Berbere Museum
- Take a short drive out to the Palmeraie for a swim in the pool at The Dar Sabra Hotel at dusk and stay until sun down for a cocktail