Words by Emma Tiernan
April 16th, 2019
With vivid colours lining the streets, intoxicating scents around every corner and the constant hustle and bustle of the medina, Marrakech is a wonder for the senses; it’s no wonder that this Morrocan metropolis has become such a mecca for tourists. In the country’s fourth-largest city, there is so much to explore from the souks to palace ruins, and if the city gets too much, you can always escape to the desert or the Atlas mountains. If you’re planning on an African getaway, discover exactly where to eat, sleep and explore in the Red City below.
Riads are the most popular choice of accommodation for those travelling to the Red City. A traditional Moroccan house, a riad features an interior courtyard or garden, some of which even have pools inside, and you’ll find many come with a scenic rooftop too. Popular destinations are the Riad Yasmine, which you might recognise from Instagram, or Riad Jardin Secret, again, a favoured choice for the decor. If you fancy some luxury then look no further than La Mamounia which was recently voted as one of the best hotels in the world by Condé Nast. Even if it is a bit out of your price range, you can always go in and walk around the gardens, and if you want a taste of luxury you can visit the spa for a hammam which will give you access to their famous leisure facilities.
A combined ticket will see you into the popular Musée Yves Saint Laurent and stunning gardens of Majorelle. Created by artist Jacques Majorelle in 1923, it took over forty years to complete the two and a half acre botanical garden located just down the street from the museum. The luxuriant garden was purchased in the 1980s by the designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé. The two restored the garden and lived there until Saint Laurent’s death in 2002, after which Bergé gifted the garden to the city of Marrakech. It is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.
Though the garden is beautiful and certainly worth the visit, it’s best to get there early as the place can fill up with visitors. If you are a fashion lover or someone interested in art, make sure to also visit the museum where you will find some of Yves Saint Laurent’s most iconic work is housed. Luckily, you’ll find that the museum is often a lot less crowded than the garden.
I would highly recommend coming here if you have the time. Even though it’s a popular tourist attraction, it’s no way near as crowded as Jardin Majorelle, making you feel like you have all the space to explore. El Badii, which translates to ‘The Incomparable’, is the ruins of a 16th-century palace that, in its day, would have been a spectacular thing to behold.
The best place to pick up Moroccan souvenirs, the souks are what Marrakech is known for and something which absolutely every visitor needs to experience. You’ll find so much going on here, from locals driving past in scooters to a vast array of colourful bowls and shiny Aladdin-esque lamps for sale — you may even come across a donkey or two. Just make sure you have your bartering game with you.
Another day another garden. Le Jardin Secret, or The Secret Garden, is located in the middle of the medina and is practically hidden away, hence the name. It once was a rather large riad now turned into a tourist attraction. Escape the souks and explore the garden where you can also stop off at their rooftop terrace café for a coffee or mint tea — when in Rome, am I right?
Why not treat yourself to a little spa morning and start your day off at a traditional hammam? Similar to Turkish baths, a hammam is a steam room where you go to cleanse yourself, and is seen as an integral part of the Morrocan way of life with many people going weekly to relax and unwind. In a traditional Morrocan hammam, warm water is poured over your body along with black olive oil soap which is then scrubbed off, helping to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells. If you are looking for the authentic experience then check out one of the public hammams where men and women bathe at separate times or days. Here, you can choose to scrub yourself down or have an attendant do it, as is tradition. However, if you are looking to experience a hammam with your other half, there are plenty of spas that offer couple options. We visited Les Bains D’Orient which I would highly recommend.
Possibly the most recommended place and for good reason, Nomad offered up the best food we had the entire trip. The menu is described as a modern twist on traditional Moroccan food and I can confirm it is delicious. Make sure to pre-book as this place is incredibly busy all the time. If you can, try and nab a table on the rooftop terrace as the views are spectacular, especially at sunset.
Terrasse Des Epices is set atop a rooftop in the middle of the medina, lit up by wooden lanterns once the sun goes down which gives the place a romantic vibe. The food here is both Moroccan and international so it has something for everyone and is one of the only restaurants we visited that served alcohol. Again, pre-booking is advised.
This restaurant is situated in a renovated 16th-century building with tables dotted around a beautiful garden which is lit up at night.
[RoyalSlider Error] Username maven46mag not found
Sign up to our newsletter to gain exclusive access to our fashion and beauty reports, shoppable shoots and lifestyle inspiration.