Out of Bed: The Insider’s Guide to Marrakech
Words by Anna Lavdaras
A melting pot of Africa, France and the Middle East blended together in a wash of Instagram-friendly millennial pink walls, the city of Marrakech is an influencer-cum-photographer’s dream. Across the realms of food, fashion and décor, the locals and their surrounds never shy away from colour. The Medina—or the walled city—abides by a clear ochre theme that is indebted to the Almohads who originally built the city from beaten clay, and that provides a complimentary canvas to the splashes of colour that dot Marrakech. Turquoise doors, mosaic floors and fuschia Berber rugs line the streets and alleys—providing colourful backdrops for a compelling highlights reel fit for any individual’s Instagram.
The souks—marketplaces in North Africa or the Middle East—usually rank first place on the holidaymaker’s list of things to do, but alternative and variegated offerings spread throughout Marrakech make up a richer and more complex map for tourists to navigate. New cafes, restaurants and galleries open their doors on a regular basis, rounding out a modernised vision of Marrakech that may surprise visitors in light of its imperial beginnings. A growing number of expats—with a share of Australians amongst them—are making moves to Marrakech and imprinting the city’s food and cultural scene, developing the ever-evolving centre and adapting menus with—and this should be incentive enough—poached eggs and avocado toast.
Should you need an extra push to up and leave to holiday in Morocco, consider this it—courtesy of our guide to exploring the Pink City. Go on, start packing…
Unpack your bags here
Accommodation in Marrakech works in one of two ways: either opt to stay in smaller rooms for the sake of convenience—ensuring you are within walking distance to the city centre—or retreat to the palm tree-laden surrounding neighbourhoods where sprawling gardens, peace and quiet and oversized swimming pools justify additional travel time. Roughly 20 minutes by taxi to Jemaa el-Fnaa, Les Deux Tours offers all the luxuries of a five star hotel at the price of three. Alternatively, park your things at Riad Dar-K—a minimalist’s dream B&B right in the heart of the Medina, replete with a rooftop oasis to take in breakfast with a view, an outdoor plunge pool and beds so comfortable they are guaranteed to beat jetlag.
Give your CC a workout
Marrakech is home to over 40,000 craftsmen, making the souks of the Medina the ultimate destination to witness the artisans’ handiwork. Beginning at Jemaa el-Fnaa, choose any of the narrow intersecting lanes and wander your way through the madness until the handicraftsmen go home. The souks are organised according to district and profession, so if you have limited time consider scanning the Marrakech City Guide beforehand to find exactly what you’re looking for—be it a rug, a basket or a pair of slippers—and its exact whereabouts.
If you tire of the souks or feel overwhelmed by choice, make your way to smaller boutiques where the offerings are more specialised:
Should you be interested in shipping home a handmade Berber rug (or two!), we advise making an appointment here. Rugs available for purchase are displayed in the showroom in the Medina and then shipped internationally to any corner of the world.
Boasting bags made in Marrakech yet designed by Frenchwoman Laetitia Trouillet, this boutique is worth stopping by. Unique totes from recycled rugs and a vibrant range of coloured leathers and suedes round out a retail experience that is as stylish as it offers authentic souvenirs.
With wares sourced from North Africa, this store is brimming with handmade ceramics, rugs, artworks and sandals that deploy decorative styles and asymmetrical designs. For interesting centrepieces that draw any eyeball and incentivise conversation at once, pop in here.
33 Rue Majorelle
Across the road from the not-to-be-missed Jardin Majorelle, this boutique-cum-gallery space is a conceptual store lover’s haven. Young artisans, designers and up-and-comers are regularly exhibited here, making it our final retail hotspot that’s worth upping your vacation step count for.
Should you have a spare day, make a trip to the Beldi Country Club an all-in-one hotspot sure to appease every member of the family or holiday crew. Lay poolside with a cocktail (or mocktail!) in hand, lunch at one of the Club’s many eateries, stroll its manicured gardens or shop to your heart’s content—Le Verre Beldi is an excellent starting point.
If you choose to remain in the Medina’s perimeter, rooftops like El Fenn’s—a boutique hotel owned by Richard Branson’s sister Vanessa Branson—are sure to satisfy Moroccan appetites. In the heart of the Medina, Nomad offers refuge and refuel from a morning exploring the souks. Alternatively, Café Des Epices or Plus 61—a new Australian café serving old favourites made anew—will keep hunger and homesickness at bay.
Don’t leave without…An afternoon spent relishing the experience of an authentic Hammam. Le Bain Bleu is a local solution, while the hotel spa at Amanjena is an ultra-luxurious one. Once refreshed, park yourself at the famed Yves Saint Laurent Museum for a cultural education and weep at the sights of original gowns designed by the legendary French couturier. Take in the architecture and pitstop at the in-house Café le Studio. Don’t leave without enjoying the neighbouring Jardin Majorelle, where Saint Laurent spent his leisure time cultivating his gardens when out of the studio. If interested in the art scene, enjoy 127 Galerie, where curated shows featuring Moroccan photography are regularly on display.
Enjoyed this? Read our Insider’s Guide to Paris, Queenstown or Tokyo.
Anna Lavdaras is stylist, writer and founder of specialist cashmere line, PHILÉ Home.