Marrakech: Top 10

Tuesday 4 August 2015

Simply uttering the name Marrakech sends ones senses into overdrive by invoking memories of the sounds, smells, tastes and sights of this enchanting city. The Medina is a kaleidoscope of bright and beautiful colours. I loved the contrasting blue sky against the terracotta Medina walls against green cacti and palm trees: layered colour blocking, a photographer's dream. I loved getting hopelessly lost in the labyrinth of  alleyways and souk stalls, buying dried fruits {and eating my body weight in dates} and taking in the hustle and bustle of life that vibrates at a different frequency in a city that makes chaos seem exciting and strangely alluring. 

1. Souks
Explore the maze of covered souks and embrace the art of haggling, it will inevitably happen. Also, keep an eye out for treasures and leather goods for a bargain price. I made the mistake of carrying only hand luggage and regret not checking in a suitcase stuffed with exotic carpets, lanterns, cushions and leather poufs, ideal for re-creating a Moroccan-style haven back home. 

2. Nomad
We came here several times during our stay in Marrakech, we were drawn to the 360 degree views of the Medina and the exquisitely tasting food and wine. Nomad is a quiet retreat from the madness of the souks downstairs and the perfect spot to watch the city turn a golden hue as the sun dips below the horizon.

Nomad, 1, Derb Aarjan, Marrakech Medina

3. Minaret & Jardin Koutoubia
This is the tallest landmark in the Medina and while non-Muslims cannot enter inside the mosque I would recommend walking around the gardens and admiring the architectural beauty from the outside.

4. Jamaa El-Fna
Blitz your senses with a visit to the main market square which comes to life after nightfall. It is filled with food stalls galore {a cheap and tasty dinner option} offering everything from sheep heads to kale smoothies, lots of options for the adventurous foodie. After food-stall-hopping, check out the snake charmers or listen to traditional Berber music by one of the many live performers in Jamaa El-Fna. If the chaos proves to be too much, opt to watch from a distance at one of the many rooftop restaurants surrounding the main square.

5. Palais de la Bahia 
The Palace is a beautiful example of Islamic architecture with several long courtyards surrounded by thick columns. The simplicity of the symmetrical layout combined with the intricate Moroccan-style carvings and tiles will leave you speechless. The detailing in impeccable.

6. Kosy Bar
A rooftop cafe close to Palais de la Bahia, Kosy bar has a wonderful view of Marrakech with a bonus view of nesting stalks on the adjacent building. The cocktails are a little pricey but the fresh mint tea is a delicious and refreshing alternative.

Place des Ferblantiers, Rue de Berrima, Marrakech

7. Jardin Majorelle
A tranquil botanical garden located in the new city and painted a vibrant cobalt blue, Majorelle gardens is a peaceful retreat from the hectic Medina. It is one of the most colourful and beautifully-kept garden oases I have visited on my travels. Take your time strolling amid the cacti, towering palm trees and exotic flowers or sit under the gazebo to admire the pretty, pink water lilies.

8. A Day Trip to the Atlas Mountains
I've always been an advocate for escaping the city and connecting with nature even if only for a day. The Atlas Mountains are a short drive from Marrakech and an excellent way to experience Berber culture and see a glimpse into rural Moroccan life.

9. Traditional Hammam
Despite popular belief, stripping down to ones skivvies is not compulsory when attending a traditional Moroccan Hammam. I adopted the awkward Western bikini-wearing approach, which will attract some looks from the locals, but saves you the mortifying experience of being exfoliated by a small Moroccan lady whilst also being but-naked in a hot, confined space with your close friend and sister. I'm far too British and bashful for that kind of nonchalant nakedness. However, it's an experience one cannot forgo whilst in Morocco, you will leave feeling refreshed, exfoliated, smelling of argan oil and with silky smooth, cherub-like skin.

10. Mamounia
One item on my list which I didn't get to experience and which I'm saving for my return trip to Marrakech is a day at the luxurious Mamounia. I dream of exploring the palatial hotel {spa, gardens, pools & cuisine} and feeling like an Arabian princess.

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