Marrakech, Morocco

For the Love of Color

As Winston Churchill once advised, if you have one day to spend in Morocco, you’d be wise to spend it in Marrakech. With deep roots in French imperialism and Islamic faith, Marrakech is an oasis of gourmet food, luxurious hotels, and thriving souks. See our handpicked recommendations for 31.62° N, 7.98° W.

Quick tip: No visa required for US citizens.


Eat

Bô & Zin

A place where the crowds are as elegant as the Thai food itself (yes, Thai food). Favorite hotspot for French and Moroccan A-listers. Ask for a table in the garden, which is set with oversize mattresses, open fires, torches, and private tents.

Quick tip: It’s located two miles outside of town, so you should book a taxi and ask the driver to wait for you so that you have a ride back to your hotel.

Photo credit: Bô & Zin

La Maison Arabe Restaurants

Located in one of the most beautiful hotels in town (Hotel La Maison Arabe), the restaurant and its cuisine is an ode to decadent desert life. Live Moroccan music and the ambiance will have you feeling like royalty before you even sit down.

Quick tip: Get your concierge to help you with a reservation.

Nomad

Refreshing new takes on classic Morrocan plates — something you’ll come to appreciate after you’ve been in Marrakech long enough. The decor is modern and chic, and the view of the city from the rooftop is spectacular.

Quick tip: The restaurant is rather hard to find, and once you find the entrance, you’ll have to climb to the top of the building where it’s located.

Photo credit: Nomad

Ksar Char Bagh Restaurant

With herbs hand-picked from the hotel’s garden, this Relais & Chateau experience doesn’t get more fresh or local than this. Enjoy your meal by the pool, a romantic spot surrounded by lush gardens.

Photo credit: Ksar Char Bagh

Drink

Le Bar Churchill

Sip on Marrakech’s best martini’s whilst a pianist plays in the background. Mellow jazz enthusiasts will love this place. The bar is located in the ever elegant La Mamounia Hotel.

Photo credit: La Mamounia

See

Jardin Majorelle

Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Berge once owned this magnificent 12-acre botanical garden. When Yves Saint-Laurent died, his ashes were scattered here. The famous shade of cobalt blue — Majorelle blue — has its origins here. This place is a poetic eden of color and flora.

Photo credit: Wikicommons

Day trip to the desert

For a change of scenery, escape to an oasis only 45 minutes outside of the city, where you can spend the afternoon lounging among the olive groves or take a camel ride to explore the lunar landscapes. The emptiness and stillness of the desert is a welcomed reprieve from the noise and chaos of the medina.

Quick tip: We recommend just doing a daytrip, although longer excursions can be planned too. Book here.

Photo credit: La Pause

Shop

Souk Market

Prepare to be drowned in the sea of merchants selling everything from hand-embroidered slippers to ornate rugs to colorful handbags. Haggle like your life depends on it because your wallet and dignity kind of does.

Quick tip: There are many souks in Marrakech. Souk Cherifa, one of the newer souks, is a great option for first-timers. Make sure you bring a guide.

Photo credit: Wikicommons

Do

Souk Cuisine

Learn to prepare and cook a traditional Moroccan meal. If you play your card rights (i.e. schedule a private hands-on class), you might get to visit the neighborhood’s communal brick oven, where locals drop off rounds of flatbread dough to be baked en masse for a few dirhams. Quick tip: The best cook school in town is run by a lovely, skilled chef. Book here.

Photo credit: Wikicommons

La Pause

Part rugged hotell, part desert oasis, and part campground. No internet. Just you, a couple of camels, the desert, and some really good food.

Quick tip: This is more like a camping experience. Book a tent (which is your guest house) ahead of time.

Photo credit: La Pause

Le Spa at The Royal Mansour Marrakech

A piece of heaven bathed in light, this spa is the only proper way to enjoy a true Moroccan massage and spa treatment. The fact that it’s set in a glazed pavilion encircled by a moat makes it all the more impressive. Spa treatments range from ancient holistic rituals using all-natural local Moroccan products.

Quick tip: We recommend the Hammam treatment. Book ahead.

Photo credit: Royal Mansour

Coffee Break

Photo credit: Terrasse des Épices

Terrasse des Épices

Idyllic spot to sip on some strong tea, while you take a break from the souks. This rooftop cafe is rustic and charming. Keep an eye out for daily specials like carrot ginger soup which are written in chalk on the blackboards.Stay

Peacock Pavilions

Located in an olive grove on the outskirts of Marrakech, this artisanal boutique hotel is a luxurious home away from home. The best part? Part of the profits from your stay go to a non-profit called Project Soar, which supports local Moroccan girls’ education.

Quick tip: Grab a Marrakech Sunset (one of their signature cocktails) by the pool.

Rooms start at $525 per night.

Photo credit: Peacock Pavillion

La Mamounia

Words most often associated with La Mamounia are “legendary”, “fairytale, and “palatial” — and for good reason, too. Exquisite craftsmanship can be found in every corner; and the hotel houses some of the best restaurants in Marrakech. The go-to spot for luminaries.

Average stay per night: $600

Photo credit: La Mamounia

Royal Mansour Marrakech

Being the King of Morocco’s personal passion project, it’s no wonder this place is the most expensive and extravagant hotel in Marrakech. Their gourmet French restaurant is overseen by Michelin-three-star chef Yannick Alleno. And the spa. Oh, the spa. It’s heaven on earth.

Photo credit: Royal Mansour

Villa des Orangers

This temple-like oasis is the epitome of beauty and calm. The rooms are wonderfully quiet and high ceilings make you feel like you’re sleeping in a palace. The hotel’s food offerings are destinations unto themselves (it’s a Relais & Chateau hotel).

Average stay per night: $950

Photo credit: Villa des Orangers

The Obvious

Medersa Ben Youssef Mosque

With the exoticism and westernised glamor of the luxury hotels and gourmet restaurants, it’s easy to forget that Marrakech is an Islamic city. Some of the most beautiful and iconic Islamic architecture can be found at this mosque. It was once (and still is) a school where children study the Qur’an.

Quick tip: Since this is a sacred place, proper clothing is imperative, especially for women.

Photo credit: Wikicommons

Djemaa el Fna (night market with lots of food)

When the sun sets, the stalls come out. Stalls are named by numbers, and most of the signs are English-free. You can find everything from petite sausages cooking on open flames to rich traditional tagines and couscous dishes. Bring a guide or a guidebook.

Quick tip: This can be an overwhelming experience for first timers, and certainly not recommended for germaphobes.

Photo credit: Wikicommons

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