The first time I touched down in Marrakech was about 10 years ago and luckily, a long trip meant I was able to experience plenty of what the gorgeous city had to offer, from afternoons spent on sun-flooded terraces to happy ambles around the labyrinthine souks, it was pretty easy going. More recently, my visit was much shorter so I was determined to pack as much into the weekend as possible.
Where to go in Marrakech?
If you haven’t shopped in this city’s famous souks, have you ever really shopped? A wander around is a must and depending on where you’re staying, you might need to navigate through this area on a daily basis anyway so enjoy it. Buy a rug, a shisha, a set of tea glasses, ceramics or some jewellery. Just try not to get hustled.
Morocco is a great place to enjoy spa and beauty treatments. Most hotels offer massages but you can get an excellently priced massage and mani-pedi in any of the salons in town too, which can make for a peaceful way to wind down after a hectic few hours of shopping and chatting with shop owners.
Marrakech is a truly beautiful city so walk around the city walls, through the Medina and to the centre of the Jamaa el-Fnaa square. Unless you’re into it, don’t let anybody give you henna tattoos or place wild animals on you, lest you be peed on and charged an extortionate amount of money for the pleasure. Do absolutely enjoy some fresh fruit or juice from one of the stands in the square, it’s incredible.
If time is tight and you’ve one site of interest on your list, make it the Jardin Majorelle; two and a half acres of lush botanical garden, a cubist villa and two museums amid flashes of art deco and traditional Moroccan structures. Restored by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, in my opinion, the garden is one of the most beautiful places on earth.
If you’re up for a little adventure, see the Ouzoud Falls. Marrakech sits in the shadow of the Atlas Mountains so a short drive will take you directly to 110-meter tall waterfalls surrounded by olive orchards and old Berber grain mills. It’s a breathtaking spot and great if you fancy trading in your hotel pool for some wild swimming.
Sure, there’s plenty to see on the streets, but I’d recommend visiting at least one museum before you leave the city. The Museum of Marrakech is a great pick, housed in a former palace it features an Andalusian-style courtyard and rooms of stunning ceramics, paintings, clothing, books and more. Maison de la Photographie is also worth a look. The museum showcases Moroccan life through photography, original glass negatives, magazines, postcards and films.
Where to stay in Marrakech?
If you’ve got cash to splash, make a beeline for Instagram’s fave Moroccan hideaway. The Mandarin sits just outside the Medina among rose gardens and olive groves. Enjoy pools, the spa, yoga and your own mini riad. The rooms are stunning and have private pools too.
A miniature palace, this hotel is perfect for fans of the decorative arts. Zellig-style courtyards and intricate carved and tiled decor can be found throughout this small five-star spot. With a terrace overlooking the Saadian Tombs and an ultra-luxurious spa, La Sultana is pretty special.
If you’re on a budget, look no further than Riad Rouge. Comprised of two riads and boasting 85 bedrooms, this is a busy place with bags of character. Tents, terraces and spaces to socialise are plentiful, the decor’s bright and eclectic and you’re sure to make new friends within minutes of stepping through the door.
My favourite pick of the bunch, Riad Jaaneman is a bohemian boutique hotel in the Medina. Jaaneman is an Indian word that means “Soul of me” but translates into “My love”. Every suite is different and each is a real treat for design lovers. Intimate courtyards, terraces and pools make this spot every bit as romantic as it sounds.
Where to eat vegan in Marrakech?
I often find that it can be tough to eat vegan in some places but Marrakech has so far, not been one of them. Head to Earth Cafe for wholesome dishes prepared with love and Cafe Baganziz for a range of veggie and vegan options. Café Des Epices serves up vegan sandwiches and you can enjoy a veggie tagine, chips and other vegetable stews in most places. Most Moroccan bread is vegan and nuts, dried fruit and herbal tea from the market stalls are all top notch.
Words: Emily Beeson | @boogiemargaret