The Colour of Marrakech
Its been 10 years since my first visit to Marrakesh. With any place I return to I love to see what has evolved and what delights are exactly as I left them, ready to jump back into them again. Marrakech gets mixed reviews. People often complain about the dress code or harassment in the souks but for me it is the least rigid of Muslim countries I have visited and really not anywhere near as “bad” as how people would have you believe.
First things first, respect the country. As a Muslim country it’s important that your wear loose fitting body covering clothes. For me this means midi skirts and t-shirts in summer or a long sleeved a line dress. I also advise you take a comfy pair of walking shoes for exploring the city and you can spend hours walking around getting lost in the different neighbourhoods picking up treasures and treats. Where to stay
There are three experiences you can have:
1. A souk in the Médina: I have stayed at Riad Clementine which is right in the hustle and bustle of the Medina walls. I would say if you are to stay in the Médina walls it’s a lot cheaper as you won’t be paying as much for taxis plus the riads tend to be a lot more affordable. But you have the noise and bustle to contend with. To me this is the true Marrakech experience.
2. Large hotel: I have also stayed at the Sofitel Marrakech which will set you back a pretty penny but it’s dripping in luxury and very much feels like when Aladdin arrives at the palace after being made a prince so well worth the experience. The hotel lobby smells like a Tom Ford perfumery and the breakfasts and poolside are worth it enough.
3. Out of town Riad hotel: Most recently I stayed at Caravan Serai which is a very old, large converted souk that has been turned into a 20 bedroom hotel out in the Palmerie area. The downside is that it’s a 20 minute taxi ride to the Médina or main tourist spots. This was offset by the tranquility that was nestled here in the middle of nowhere. I booked via secret escapes last minute and got a great deal. What to eat?
You must try the Moroccan delicacy, pastilla. This is a cinnamon, sugar and chicken pastry sounds gross I know but it’s delicious and the best spot in town for it is Comptoir Darna. A table must be booked for a splash out meal and cocktails. Belly dancers circle you whilst you enjoy exquisitely prepared traditional cuisine. A meal for two with cocktails will cost around £150 but worth every penny.
If you are looking for cheap eats there are endless street cafes where you can get a tagine for no more than £5. I highly recommend you visit on of the rooftop cafes in the Medina and watch the city whilst you sip on your juice and nibble on Moroccan salads. My favourite spot for lunch is Le Jardin Marrakech. What the hammam?
Every time I have been to Marrakech I visit Le Bain de Marrakech, I recommend it to everyone. The first time I went, 10 years ago it was one small spa offering 5 star service. A decade later there are three international hammams, it’s had a lick of paint and you won’t get in without a reservation as it gets booked up! I suggest booking well in advance if you want a weekend appointment. After being comfortably assaulted by a salt scrub and a bucket of water for the afternoon.
Souk it to me
Now the Souk experience has mixed reviews. You must keep you bag zipped and closed and not that you should anywhere, but definitely here is not where you should wear revealing clothes. My advice is stay chilled, don’t make eye contact unless you want to buy and haggle to your hearts content. There are countless souks around Marrakesh, for spices, oils and beauty, metal work, leather, rugs you name it. Take your time to explore them all. Don’t fall into the trap of just visiting the main souk at Jal Efna. To be honest this souk has changed drastically over the past 10 years and whilst there are still some gems to be sought, the endless stream of counterfeit designer product has changed the feel of them.
My true love in Marrakech is the homewares. We partner with a group of artisans who product hand-stitched leather goods. Slippers, ottomans and bags.
You can shop our beautiful rugs and ottomans over on the shop page :-)