Marrakech really is like no other place I’ve ever been to. A mere 3 and a half hour flight from London and you arrive in a vibrant hot pot of sights, sounds and smells. Read on to see what we got up to on our 48 hour stay in this truly unique place.
Retreat back to a calm oasis after experiencing the chaos of Marrakech. Riad Yasmine is tranquil, chic and friendly. Our traditionally appointed Moroccan room, filled with pom pom throws, handmade rugs and mosaic bathroom tiling, opened up on to the courtyard where we lounged around sipping strong Moroccan coffee. The rooftop is the perfect setting to enjoy a cold beer as the sun sets above the Medina, you choose between hammock, Moroccan pouf or oversized cushions to soak up the North African golden hour. The staff are so accommodating and friendly arranging local taxis, restaurant reservations and breakfast to order whenever you wish. The eternal riad resident, white and tan cat Bowie, welcomes you back to this tiny slice of paradise after a busy day in the Medina. The seven room riad books up very quickly, so make sure to reserve your stay well in advance.
Riad Yasmine, 209 rue Ank Jemel, Marrakech
For a real over the top Moroccan experience Dar Yacout is the place to be. We dined in spectacular surroundings, where live music of rhythmic drums was the perfect backdrop to our dramatic meal. We saw each mouth watering dish arrive at our table in extravagant, embroidered tagine plates. We ate traditional salads, slow cooked chicken with preserved lemons and olives, lamb tagine with couscous and sweet pastries to finish, all accompanied by lovely Moroccan wine. The evening will set you back 600 dirham per person, which is punchy for a meal in Marrakech. To get the most out of your experience here, arrive early for a pre drink and very hungry in preparation for a Moroccan feast. Dar Yacout isn’t easy to find, make sure you use reliable directions.
Dar Yacout, 79, derb Sidi Ahmed Soussi, Marrakech
No 98 Market stall at Jemma el-Fnaa
For a completely different type of dining, head to number 98 Chez Mustapha at the el-Fnaa market. The stall is busy, and your whirlwind dining experience begins with chefs throwing down plates of fresh fried fish, squid, smashed roasted aubergine and tomato salad. The experience will be over before you know it, but it absolutely mustn’t be missed. For four people dining it cost us 200 dirham to have an absolute feast. Don’t be thrown off by other market hustlers who will try and lure you to their own stalls. Keep your eye on the prize of no. 98!
Nomad restaurant serves modern Moroccan cuisine with views looking into the Souk Zrabi. We devoured a truly delicious feast of feta and courgette fritters, goats cheese and caramelised onion pastillas, harissa squid with charred fennel and juicy lamb burgers with aubergine. The setting is Moroccan but simple and chic. Dine here for something a little out of the ordinary in Marrakech but in keeping with the Moroccan vibe.
Step through a tiny door into an oasis of luscious green trees to escape the chaos of the souks. We started out with short, spiced coffees and fresh juices followed by a traditional Moroccan spread. Order the kefta tagine – couscous and a rich tomato sauce served with meatballs and baked eggs. The chicken tagine with preserved lemons and olives was also another favourite at our lunch table. Hungry bellies were immediately satisfied.
Le Jardin, 32 Route Sidi Abdelaziz, Marrakech
The best place to enjoy a sunset drink is at Kosybar. The rooftop terrace looks out to the Koutoubia Mosque where the sun burns red behind it. Enjoy the rare opportunity of having a beer at a bar in the Medina.
Kosybar, Place des Ferblantiers, Marrakech
Jemma el-Fnaa Market
A lively and buzzing square in the centre of Marrakech. There’s so much going on here at all times of the day. The early birds are the fruit vendors who’ll whip you up the freshest juice you can get hold of in Marrakech. Come lunch time snake charmers, trinket sellers and crowd pleasers dominate the el-Fnaa square. However, the best is yet to come.. by sunset the square is filled with street food vendors serving up moroccan delights. The savvy tourist who does a bit of research beforehand is the winner here as all the stands are numbered in sequential order. Scroll up to read about my favourite stand in the Jemma el-Fnaa.
Jemma el-Fnaa, Derb Chtouka, Marrakesh
Cafe Clock Cooking Class
Head chef at Cafe Clock, Mohammad, led us through a five hour cookery class teaching us all the basics of Moroccan cooking. After selecting what dishes to create, we took a trip to the local market to pick up ingredients for our class. After cooking up a storm, there was no disagreement about the winning dish – rfissa medhoussa, slow cooked chicken with lentils, lemon, Moroccan spices and salted butter. It’s served over kneaded, baked, shredded and steamed dough that forms the pastry base. A mouthwatering dish that silenced all talk around the lunch table. We also whipped up beetroot salad, Harira soup and honey macarons. The class costs 600 dirham per person and lasts between 4 and 5 hours.
Cafe Clock, Derb Chtouka, Marrakesh
Moroccan spas are renowned for being luxurious and well priced. We tried out Les Bains De Marrakech for our treatments. 45 minutes of a traditional hammam body scrub followed by a 1 hour massage. The extremes of the two experiences left us walking on air afterwards. A vigorous scrub down with black soap in sweltering hot conditions is an experience that leaves you gasping when you leave the Moroccan chamber. The one hour argan oil massage after makes the experience completely worthwhile. The traditional hammam and massage combo costs 600 dirham per person.
Les Bains de Marrakech, 2 Derb Sedra, Bab Agnaou
Get Lost In The Souks
We got totally lost in the Souks, many times over. It’s a mesmerising experience wandering through the labyrinth of shops hoarding blankets, rugs, crockery, jewellery, leather and trinkets. Half the fun of shopping in Marrakech’s souks is the bartering, the other half is making some incredible purchases. We walked away with some stunning pom pom blankets and a leather pouf. It’s inevitable that you’ll wander through the souks a few times during your stay in Marrakech, so if you have your eye on something there’s always an opportunity to venture back. I noticed some vendors sold better quality leather goods than others, so even though you will be looking for a bargain it’s also worth paying a few pennies more for a much better product.
Ben Youssef Madrasa
An old Islamic college and one of Marrakech’s most beautiful landmarks. We had fun exploring the old building admiring the stunning tile work that encompasses the walls. The Ben Youssef Madrasa is one of the nicest tourist attractions within Marrakech and only setting you back 20 dirham per person it’s definitely worth a visit.
These stunning gardens are worth a visit during your time spent in Marrakech. Owned by the late Yves Saint Laurent, it’s obvious he had input into the chic design here. We wandered through the Jardin Majorelle on a cool January morning. The experience seemed to transport us out of Marrakech as every fresh breath of air felt like life to our lungs here. Cost of entry to the gardens is 70 dirham and time spent within the gardens is unlimited.
Marrakech is the perfect mini break for those wanting to escape the bitter winter we seem to be experiencing in London right now. We all had the best weekend exploring, eating and getting pampered. Now on to planning the next adventure…
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