I've just returned from a glorious few days in Marrakech, home to some of the most beautiful places I've ever stayed, super welcoming hosts and amazing shopping...
It's the perfect destination if you're after a long weekend trip with slightly more guaranteed sun and heat than Europe at this time of year.
I've been a number of times now and always find the locals really welcoming and friendly. For a long time, I've stayed in the same little riad right in the heart of the Medina, owned by a Spanish lady and her son, but there are so many beautiful accommodation options now- some within the busy streets, others just outside of the city centre set in lush gardens - an oasis of peace.
I've tried to round up some of my top tips below- where to shop, eat and stay in Marrakech.....
Firstly - if your accommodation offers a taxi from the airport - book it. More often than not, it's the same price as hailing a cab from the airport and you won't get stuck trying to explain an airbnb address that's hidden inside the wiggly Medina streets....!
Secondly - it depends how much time you have and where your priorities lie, but I would probably suggest staying a couple of days in a riad in the Medina (The old part of the city where the main souks are) and then head out to one of the more peaceful, villa hotels for some real R & R.
- Riad Lola - I've stayed here lots and it's the perfect location if you want to be close to the main square and have a quick walk home after a busy day. There's a little roof terrace and stylish rooms with a peaceful courtyard- hard to imagine you're so close to the main square as soon as you're inside the walls of this riad.
- Riad Kbour Chou - this is where we stayed on this most recent trip - it's slightly further out of the centre so a bit more walking to get back after dinner etc but they do have bikes too if you wanted to save some time. It's beautiful - the courtyard is awash with plants and flowers and the rooftop terrace is insanely pretty for breakfast or an evening drink. We also had dinner here one night which was some of the best food we ate all trip!
- El Fenn - I'm still trying to find the right time to stay here. Yes it's more pricey than lots of other, still as beautiful options, but there's something rather special about the feel and modern Moroccan design of the rooms here. You could also just go for lunch, afternoon tea or an evening cocktail on the roof terrace which we did this time around- it's a good people watching spot- expect some of the rich gliterrati who've come into town from their rural villas for a night...!
- Hotel Les Deus Tours - if you want to escape from the hustle of the Medina for a day, this is the perfect option. We just booked a pool and lunch day- which allows you access to the pool from around 10.30am and a 2 course lunch all for around £40/person. It's such a lovely place- really relaxed, not at all stuffy and beautiful surroundings. The food is also amazing and lunch under the flower-covered pergola was DELIGHTFUL! They also serve a delish Moroccan house white wine.....
Riad 72 Living - this riad is listed on some of the luxury hotel websites and Mr & Mrs Smith and although I've never stayed there, I can see why. It's more sleek and contemporary in design than some of the more traditional riads and has this amazing courtyard for dinner and roof terrace too. We ate there 6 years ago for our first anniversary and have since dreamed of going back. The service is impeccable and we always opt for the order-in-advance tagine option (order the day before you're going) and it's insanely good. We had the lamb.....YUM.
La Famille - this super sweet, outdoor cafe/restaurant is really nice for a light lunch on a hot day. There's a super simple, all veggie menu and the food is tasty and good value too.
Terasse de Epices - so there are a number of restaurants in Marrakech all owned by the same group. I used to love going to them but they've since become a bit too busy and the food gone a little down hill. It's such a shame as they occupy some of the best rooftops in Marrakech but the staff don't seem so happy to be there anymore. However, that being said, there is 1 or 2 of them that are still worth a visit for the view and a nice lunch in the sun - Terasse de Epices being one of them. It's also set on a lovely rooftop and has some good Souk shopping underneath it. Definitely book in advance as it can get super busy!
(Le Jardin is also nice too- set in a courtyard with tortoises roaming or Cafe De Epices for a morning coffee or juice. Perhaps stay clear of Nomad though- this place used to be great but our food was very average this time around and the service lacking).
L'MIDA - I can't personally vouch for L'MIDA but it's the new kid on the block and from what I've heard, it's excellent. Set on another lovely roof terrace in the Medina.....
Your Riad - most riads offer an in-house dinner if booked in advance and quite often, it's the best food you'll eat whilst on holiday. Usually the meal is cooked by the local riad staff and more representative of true Moroccan family food. As mentioned, we had dinner one night at Riad Kbour and I'm still dreaming about the roasted cauliflower and that aubergine dip.......
Le Jardin Secret - I can't believe I only discovered this peaceful oasis on our most recent trip to the city. Hidden away, it's a bit unassuming from the street but once you're inside, it's the most beautiful set of gardens - with a little cafe for your morning espresso too. I wish I'd taken my book as I could have sat in there for hours on end, soaking up the beautiful surroundings and calm. It would be the most amazing wedding venue too if anyone's looking......
I actually also preferred these gardens to Jardin Majorelle
The Hidden Souks - one of the main joys about Marrakech is the shopping! From beautiful berber rugs to ceramics and glassware - there are SO many goodies. A general rule of them is to look to pay around half the original asking price - but be sensible too......for lots of souk traders, they've lost a lot of potential tourist income over the course of the lockdowns so be kind with your pricing too.
Lots of them have hidden 'warehouses' of stock- if you can't find what you're looking for straight away, make sure to ask to see their stock as sometimes some of the best things are hidden away in these secret store rooms a street over....!
Kabana - for cocktails and a fun night out - in the more modern part of town
The Photography Museum - this also has a really lovely terrace for a cup of mint tea too
Bacha Coffee - so I wouldn't rush back here for the coffee (it's a bit of a tourist trap), however, it's set within a beautiful courtyard which is worth seeing itself.