It’s hard to sit on the fence about Marrakech. On the one hand, it’s hot and dusty with street vendors vying relentlessly for your attention in the medina’s souks. On the other hand, it’s like an Arabian Night fantasy comes to life with the city’s red-brick medina bursting at the seams with stalls brimming with wares of all kinds, from colorful ceramics and spices piled in pyramids, to handcrafted furniture and lanterns. Once you’ve haggled over a Berber rug, you’ve watched the world go by as you cool mint tea at a hole-in-the-wall cafe in lively Jemaa el-Fnaa square, and you’ve lost (and found) ) your way through the labyrinthine alleys of the Medina, you might think you’ve tasted all that Morocco’s Imperial City has to offer. But look past the sweaty frenzy again, and you’ll find hidden treasures like a hidden Moroccan photography museum, a stylish rooftop bar and boutiques that combine local know-how and contemporary flair, as well as hidden oases that offer respite from the heat.
Stay in your own private villa at The Mandarin Oriental
Marrakech is the fourth largest city in Morocco and has the most diverse hotel scene, where accommodation ranges from riads within the Medina walls to large resorts with airy gardens outside the old city center. The Mandarin Oriental is one of the latter. A 25 minute drive from the Medina, on the edge of the city centre, it has its perks such as 50 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens which really make the hotel feel like an oasis.
All that extra space also means guests can have their own private villas, which are spacious even by local standards (3,100 sqm for one bedroom villas and 4,553 sqm for two bedroom villas), surrounded by gardens with a swimming pool and jacuzzi that is enough to keep you entertained. tempt you to do something too strenuous. The hotel also has nine suites, seven of which have their own plunge pools, all of which have breathtaking views of the Atlas Mountains, which you may want to swap your villa for.
Aside from the villas and suites, the hotel is one of many nooks to kick back with a good book or cocktail around tranquil pools of water or under tall swaying palms. There are only two reasons to get out of your favorite lounge position here, and that is to sample the cuisine in the hotel’s four restaurants and get a treatment in the huge spa with its own indoor pool, hammam, French Biologique Recherche facial treatments and marocMaroc products for body treatments.
Popular with locals, the restaurants feature an eclectic mix of styles, with a traditional Moroccan restaurant, a Hakkasan offshoot, where contemporary Cantonese cuisine meets Japanese Izakaya dishes, and the poolside garden restaurant, serving large bright Mediterranean salads. full of color and taste are served under a pergola. The latest addition to the roster, Michelin-starred chef Akrame Benallal’s Shirvan Café Métisse has created dishes from around the world, such as roasted cauliflower with orange blossom and tahini sauce and lamb chops roasted in harissa paste.
Take it one step further for rest and relaxation and request that your meals be prepared in your villa for you to enjoy poolside in the outdoor area with fully working fireplace and large white linen sofas all organized virtually with your WhatsApp butler . Mandarin Oriental MarrakechRoute du Golf Royal.
Visit the photography museum that takes you back in time
Marrakech was known as the muse of couture designer Yves Saint Laurent in the 1960s, who inspired him with his vibrant colors and textures and his frenetic energy, fueling some of his most famous designs. So it’s no surprise that his home in the Jardin Majorelle, with its electric blue walls hugging scented gardens of palm trees and cacti, and the more recently opened YSL Museum down the street are at the top of travelers’ checklists. However, getting back into the medina away from the crowds of tourists getting off the tour buses can give you more peaceful cultural experiences. Tucked down a side street, the tranquil House of Photography displays a dizzying collection of over 10,000 photographs that tell the story of Morocco from the 1800s; there is also a color film documenting life in the city around 1957. Afterwards, visitors are invited to fresh mint tea laced with sugar on the breezy rooftop terrace that overlooks the city, crackling in the North African heat against a backdrop of snow-capped Atlas Mountains lined up along the horizon. House of PhotographyRue Ahl Fes, 46 Rue Bin Lafnadek, Medina.
Shop for tribal rugs woven by an all-female cast of artisans
Of course, the medina is the place to shop if you have a taste for brass lamps, hand-knotted carpets, camel leather goods and colorful tagine dishes. But once the crowds are over, check out the handful of boutiques selling local handicrafts with a twist, such as in Anitan, one of the city’s most upscale carpet shops. While the whitewashed setting is a far cry from the stuffy windowless carpet shops of medina basements, the carpets, a spectrum of updated tribal patterns, are all handwoven by an all-women’s collective of Atlas artisans. Founded by Casablanca businesswoman Faïza Lahlou, whose travels through Morocco inspired a passion for the country’s art history, she also explores the use of natural dyes in the making of Moroccan bath towels and ceramics, all with the aim of bringing these fast-disappearing artisan traditions back to second place. to give. life long. Anitan carpets† Rue Yves Saint Laurent.
Book a massage in the medina before a shopping pit stop
Staying true to Moroccan tradition, spend half a day in a hammam (that’s a steam bath for the uninitiated). However, if exploring the dark, steamy corridors of the local hammams is too daunting for you, and you’re looking for a place to relax and sample a legendary Moroccan massage in the medina, there’s no better place than Bliss. Hidden in a whitewashed riad with leafy courtyards and flowing curtains, it feels miles away from the hustle and bustle while sitting in the middle of it. They offer reasonably priced massages and beauty treatments, yoga, and for those wanting to experience a stay in the medina, there are a handful of understated light and airy Moroccan-style rooms. Bliss Riad Spa182 Rue Mouassine, Dar El Bacha, Medina.
Where to eat the best home cooked meal in town
Today in Marrakech you can find food from all four corners of the world, especially in the five star hotels, but what connects the food culture is the locals’ flair for taste. You can’t come to town without sampling the more traditional cuisine and the Amal Center, located on the edge of the medina in Gueliz, is arguably the best place to stop by to do just that. A local non-profit that supports women by providing them with training and employment so they can be independent, dishes include a succulent fish tagine, salads made with local produce and couscous on Fridays. Amal CenterRue Allal Ben Ahmed and Rue Ibn Sina, Gueliz.
Drop by for a cocktail at this bar above the city?
It’s easy to take a break from the sun and frenzy in the heart of the medina if you know where to go. Floating above the sea of antennae and minarets is Nomad, created by Moroccan and British restaurant entrepreneurs Kamal Laftimi and Sebastian de Gzell. The views here are reason enough to climb up and take a seat on the shaded terrace of this trendy spot. Now they may not offer the most authentic Moroccan cuisine in town, but all of the produce used to spice up their take on satisfying oriental vegetarian couscous and crisp salads are fresh, local and mostly organic, making it an ideal place to eat. cool off before setting out again to explore the medina in the sweltering heat. Nomad1 Derb Aarjane, Medina.
The institution from the 1920s markets French-Moroccan classics
A local institution, the Grand Café de la Poste, was where French expats and A-listers congregated. Redesigned by Studio KO (also behind the YSL Museum), it’s a classic haunt where well-heeled locals and travelers kick back in a leather armchair for an after-dinner nightcap of French staples such as oysters and beef tartare, as well as desserts such as éclair and tarte tatin alongside more local offerings in the restaurant space. Grand Cafe de la Poste† Angle Boulevard El Mansour Eddahbi and Avenue Imam
Glamping in the desert under a starry sky
Less than an hour from Marrakech and it’s easy to find yourself surrounded by nothing but a vast expanse of golden desert and big clear skies stretching above you and really throwing you into the wild. Head southwest and you will find yourself in the Agafay Desert where entrepreneur Pierre Yves Marais has set up his Terre des Etoiles ecolodge. With sand dunes stretching all the way to the horizon, highlighted by the majestic peaks of the Atlas Mountains soaring to the sky, guests stay in spacious tents with bouncy double beds, which open out onto their private decks to sit and admire the view. While there’s a desert camp atmosphere that’s perfect for clearing your head, there are also all the modern conveniences you could wish for, such as two natural water pools and a delightful restaurant under a stylish wooden structure that serves tasty local dishes. Terre des Etoiles, desert of Agafay.
Spend the day in this lakeside restaurant outside the city
Once you’ve done your rounds of the medina and the surrounding “new” city, there’s plenty to discover outside of Marrakech too. Less than an hour’s drive south of town along a road that winds through a burnt orange desert that stretches as far as the eye can see is a little oasis known as the barrage of Lalla Takerkoust. With tables set up on the banks of the lake, Le Relais du Lac restaurant. Surrounded by a leafy garden planted with colorful flowers and teeming with birds, it’s the perfect place to get a feel for more rural Morocco. Swung across tables hiding under thatched roofs, feast on dinners of local Moroccan dishes or French classics, all made with local seasonal ingredients until the sun goes down† Le Relais du Lac Barrage Lalla Takerkoust, Al Haouz Province.