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Travel Journal - Marrakech

Updated: May 30, 2022

I have been visiting Morocco since I was just a few months old. My grandfather fell in love with this country when he trained there with the army over 60 years ago and decided that it was somewhere he was going to continue to explore with the family going forward. As a result, he built a home and it was the first country I visited after I was born. I have been back almost every year since then.

Marrakech is the city I am most familiar with, but would also recommend visiting Essouira (a coastal town where you can surf), Oualidia (for the flamingos and oyster bays), Fez (home of Morocco's most famous tanneries), Tangier (seeped in history, stories and colour), the Atlas mountains and the desert. Those who follow me from the days of BomBom Morocco will know that my sister and I had a company that sold personalised accessories made in the outskirts of Marrakech for 4 years before I studied and started OC Wellness... the country holds a very special place in my heart.

This article is specifically a Marrakech guide because I get asked for my recommendations in the city all the time. I thought the list in my notes app could do with an upgrade and from now on I'll share this link. I hope you enjoy it and are now more inclined to visit this incredible city... feel free to get in touch for specific questions!

Where to stay-

Within the city walls:

The King of Morocco opened a hotel within the old walls of the medina in 2010. The Royal Mansour has the most indulgent architectural and interior design of all the hotels in my opinion, and serves some of the best food in the city. Their swimming pool area is so peaceful and the flowerbeds look like individual pieces of art. I drool over their outdoor furniture (and the pistachio ice cream) whenever they let me through the giant entrance gates as a non hotel guest.

The Mammounia is probably the most famous hotel in Marrakech, featured in many films and known world-wide. Their gardens are magnificent with tennis courts, vegetable gardens and tea houses scattered across the endless grounds which feel never ending despite being within the city walls. The Italian restaurant has some of the best food I have ever eaten (big statement I know) and the pool bar is perfect for kids and days by the swimming pool. The spa is world class and perfect for some down time after a busy morning exploring the maze that is the Souk.

Riad El Fenn is a traditional riad right by Jemaa el-Fnaa (the souk and main square). Drink cocktails on the rooftop and watch the sun set across the city as you listen to the call of prayer. Shop in their perfectly curated boutique for artisanal products that travel well and will never grow old or drink mint tea in their courtyard with rich, mustard coloured sofas and magenta pink flowers that cover the walls. It is a sanctuary of peace that seems worlds away from the noisy, dusty streets that sit right outside the front door.

L’hotel was opened and designed by Jasper Conran, a famous British interior designer. It is a colourful labyrinth of textures, colours and patterns that match perfectly to create a crisp but quirky feel. With just 5-suites surrounding the 19th century riad courtyard – you can take the whole thing for a party or use it as a hotel.

Outside the city:

The Mandarin Oriental is large, impressive and exquisite in its use of mosaic design. Stay here or simply visit for afternoon tea or an evening drink to soak up the great atmosphere and walk around the fountains and picture perfect gardens. Ling Ling is a Chinese restaurant owned by the world renowned Hakkasan group that looks over the pool and serves great saki.

Vast and very serene, the Amanjena is somewhere to arrive, relax and leave feeling like a new person. The spa, pools and large bedroom villas are so inviting that leaving to explore the city could seem a little intimidating. It is regularly featured in society magazines as the location for some celeb or fashion house to have taken over and thrown a private bash. If you’re not staying there – it’s worth a visit and drink at the bar.

Palais Namaskar – The entrance is my favourite of all the hotels in Marrakech. With fountains and arches that seem never ending, it's garden landscape is the epitome of serene.Wow, wow, wow are your first thoughts as you arrive at this property (which I’ve heard also throws a pretty good pool party and brunch). Just a 20 min drive from the city centre you can both relax and adventure for the perfect Marrakech fix.

Villa Ezzahra - A private estate which sleeps up to 30 guests across 3 properties. For those who want the privacy of your own home with hotel grade spa, food, gym, padel court, 3 swimming pools, perfectly kept gardens and 15 uniquely decorated bedrooms... this is your place.

Where to shop- (things are constantly opening and closing so this list is subject to change. Please make sure to check opening times before visiting anywhere)

  • The Souk

  • Atika (shoes)

  • Les sens de Marrakech (indulgent shower gels and anything body related that smells divine)

  • Le sens de Lins (bed & bath linen, house accessories)

  • Shabby Chic - Moroccan pottery in every colour you can imagine

  • Aya - Kaftans

  • African Lodge

  • Stella Cadente

Where to eat-

All of the hotels mentioned above serve great food in their multitude of different restaurants. For traditional Moroccan food I would also recommend Yakout for a really special experience. You have a Nikki Beach in the Palmerie area for poolside fun, and the Royal Golf club for great food and views of the snow topped atlas mountains beyond a sea of green grass and palm trees. Bozin is a vibe, Buddah Bar is too and Café des epice, nomade and Cafe La Poste are convenient and tasty spots in the souk area. Have a fresh orange juice from a stall seller in the main square (ask for it cold) and have Sunday brunch at the Selman hotel while their famous Arabian horses prance around in the paddoks next to your table.

What to see-

The Yves Saint Laurent museum is home to some of his earliest sketches, fashion collections and accessories. Situated right next to the Majorelle gardens famous for their cacti and royal blue buildings – this area deserves a morning to explore properly. They have cafes and boutiques across the street for an iced coffee pit stop and somewhere to pick up souvenirs or beautiful Moroccan kaftans and jewellery.

Beldi Country club can be visited in a morning or one can spend the day there and take advantage of their gorgeous swimming pools and garden restaurants. They have a mini souk with some of Marrakech’s best stores who’ve popped up, and their rose gardens are unlike anything I have experienced before. Spend an hour walking around gawking at the hidden gardens and magical corners behind every wall. It is the perfect wedding or party venue, with the lushest, most romantic green house I’ve ever seen. I’d love to host a dinner there one day.

Day trip to the Atlas mountains – arrange this through your hotel or with a tour guide to experience the beauty of this unbelievable mountain range that stretches all the way across north Africa. You can ski up there, hike or take part in wellness retreats that benefit from the cool mountain air not available in Marrakech. Take a donkey ride to one of the countless waterfalls and swim in the chilly, fresh water pools before a traditional lunch of Tajine and freshly baked Moroccan bread.

Souk & Jema Al Fna – I’d say this area is probably what Marrakech is best known for, and quite rightly so. If you’re one for putting a snake round your neck and posing with a monkey on your shoulder this is where you’ll be able to do it. Watch the hours go by as you meander down colourful alley ways and go from stall to stall bartering your way to an overweight suitcase on the way home (remember the way you’ve come though or you will get very lost) and pick up some dates, herbs & spices, tadellac bowls or slippers for friends and family.

If you have a strong stomach, there are countless options to eat in the square and you’ll find ladies designing henna patterns on your hands and feet as a semi-permanent reminder of your trip.

Marrakech is a buzzing city with so much tradition, culture and colour thrown in together. The people are welcoming, the food is delicious and it is sunny for 350 days of the year. A short flight from most of Europe's big cities, Marrakech is a must-see for everyone and anyone.

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