If you’re looking for somewhere that feels a million miles away from London or in fact, European westernisation, board a three hour flight down to the hustle and bustle of Marrakech. We popped down just for two nights, three full days from London, with a nice £70 return price tag. Also, for January, we had a 24 degree, sun shining day for one of our days, which was exactly what the doctor ordered. With the vitamin D streaming down onto rooftops across the city, we managed to pop into quite a few rooftop ‘bars’ during our stay. The rooftops and riads provide a much needed escape from the intensity of the souks and narrow streets. I’ve broken this down into a few sections, for ease of reading. But really, what you need to understand is that Marrakech, the first place I’ve visited in Africa, will hold a special place for us, giving us a taste of the real travel hustle once again, far from the lush European city escapes we’ve become accustomed too. Enjoy this little summary of this gorgeous city.
STAY / We stayed at Riad Sierra, a small but stunning riad in the northern part of the old town. The new American owners were so so helpful and answered our questions, offered us tips, provided the most delicious breakfast and provided simple, boutique accommodation. We booked this through Airbnb and would recommend to anyone looking for a spot to stay.
EXPLORE / There are so many different parts of the city to immerse yourself in, as we only had a short time we found that we were selective with where we went and what we did. You definitely need an afternoon just to wander, without looking at Google Maps or Maps.Me (make sure you download both of these offline). This is just so you get your bearings, get a feel for the culture and be ok with getting lost in the maze that is the old town of Marrakech. After loosing yourself through the streets, make sure you make a stop at;
Jardin Marjorelle just out of the city, most places suggest you get a taxi there. But it took us about thirty minutes to walk from our riad and made for an interesting stroll through some parts of town you may not necessarily come across on your usual route. Once here, you can also choose to visit the YSL museum, we didn’t because we were craving the January sun but the gardens were peaceful and worth the visit.
Jama El f’na Market the main square, be prepared for some hassling and ladies approaching you to be hennaed (Izzy knows all about this one). During the day, watch the crazy snake charmers, square vendors and whatever else you that may catch your eye. By night, the street food markets roll out and you’re spoilt for choice with local, Moroccan food, where you’ll spot local families eating and socialising.
El Badi Palace the remains of a 16th century palace, the colours, layout and views from here are well worth the 70DH entry. A fascinating piece in Marrakech’s historical jigsaw and a tranquil place to wander and gain an insight into the lavosh life of the 16th and 17th century.
Hammam we didn’t end up having time for this traditional body steam and scrub, but friends we were travelling with absolutely loved it. Packages vary and your spoilt for choice between budget, boutique and ultimate luxury.
SHOP / You could literally shop til your drop in this city. The souks go on for eternity it feels, ranging from cheap copies of YSL, Gucci and Chanel through to local artisans selling rugs, ceramics, leather, traditional serving ware, textiles and so much more. There is a saying in Morocco with the locals in regards to spending money, and it goes somewhat along the lines of if you’re happy with what you’ve paid, then you should be happy, rather than sharing what you paid with others, be content with the price of your purchase and keep that to yourself. For me, I totally took this on board and tried to think about what I’d be happy to pay for items, rather than asking others. We ended up being quite reserved with our purchasing, as you could really go to town. We bought a large rug, handmade from the Atlas Mountains from a really lovely local vendor who was not pushy, very friendly and even had the EPL on for MK to watch whilst I browsed. Then, we bought two Turkish towels, made from cotton, again from a small local business.
We also visited the most beautiful homewares store in quite an industrial area of Marrakech, you’ll definitely need a taxi to get there. LRNCE – just hop on the Instagram to see what I’m talking about, you’ll be blown away. Featured in magazines like Vogue Living, the designs are spectacular and possibly next time I’d buy some things to take back to Australia.
EATS / You will definitely eat very well in Marrakech, either as a vegetarian or meat eater, you’ll have an abundance of choice. Some of the places we really enjoyed eating at;
Atay Cafe simple cafe with great views of the mosque and city rooftops
Le Jardin Restaurant beautiful fresh food, gorge decor too.
Main Square Night Food Market be prepared to be dragged into any restaurant you say yes to, just relax and immerse yourself in an authentic Moroccan experience. Try it all if you dare!
Street vendors selling various snacks and drinks we bought this delicious sesame and nut bar, the boys bought banana smoothies from a local store, juice vendors everywhere selling all types of freshly squeezed juices
Our lovely Riad for breakfast – the French influence was notable, especially at breakfast from our riad, with a selection of pastries, crepes, bread, fruits and jams.
SUNET SPOTS / Whatever you do, if you’ve got a clear evening, get yourself to a rooftop and watch the sun descend with palm trees, an array of roofs and the Atlas Mountains surrounding your view.
M Rooftop new rooftop, relaxed and great views. Food was a little pricey but delish.
El Fen Rooftop ask to head to the rooftop from the shop downstairs, fancy but stunning vibes with live music for sunset.
Shtatto just another great view from this little rooftop.
Anywhere over looking the main square is really great – you get the atmosphere of the square below but you’re away from the intensity and can appreciate the call to prayer as the sun marvels down over the city.
You know people either love or hate Marrakech, we definitely loved it and know we’ll be back sometime in the future. Next time, we’d love to explore the Atlas and the surfer towns along the coast.
Much love, Moroccan mesmerised Laura xx