JEMAA EL-FNAA / GEMMAFJAM, UNSPLASH.COM
Impressive silhouettes shoot up against the rosy sky as the sun sets over Marrakech, the postcard of Morocco. The maze of streets, Moorish latticework, aqua pools and mesmerizing mosaic tiles transport you to a far-off land, a forgotten time. The haunting call of the muezzin and sublime tranquility of the riad steps you further away into a new experience, rich with treasures. Discovering Marrakech is like stepping into a sensorial fantasy, where intrigue awaits around every corner.
RIAD YASMINE / @LERIADYASMINE, INSTAGRAM
The pulse of Marrakech, Jemaa el-Fnaa is an open-air food paradise and artisanal marketplace, filled with fortune-telling, snake-charming, leather-tanning and henning-painting craftsmen sure to delight. Pick up a map (or hire a professional guide), grab a fresh-squeezed juice and start shopping. Don’t worry about losing your way, it’s part of the adventure.
You could eat at the markets every day, or you could check out the city’s thriving gourmet foodie scene. Whether you’re looking to nibble in sun-drenched gardens, or sip coffee in one of a number Parisian-inspired cafes, Marrakech has plenty of savory, mouthwatering options. Al Fassia, run entirely by women, specializes in traditional Fez fare, while Grand Cafe de la Poste oozes with Old World-charm. Run by chef Fatéma Hal who studied in Paris, La Cour des Lions is a Michelin-star restaurant located at the top of Es Saadi Palace (next-level elegance, the palace features intricate lace-carved stone, and Arab-Andalusian decor). Hal is dedicated to preserving and elevating traditional Moroccan staples, so you know you’ll be treated to the best Marrakech has to offer.
You’ve seen them all over Instagram: luxurious guest houses with private gardens and gorgeous interiors. Iconic zellige tiles, sparkling emerald pools, cozy quiet comfort amidst the hustle and bustle of the medina’s vendors. Many feature traditional hammams, offering extensive services (get one… or two), rooftop terraces overlooking the Red City, French-infused Moroccan cuisine and opulent interiors that spare no expense. Riad Yasmine, L’Hotel, Riad De Tarabel, Dar Les Cigognes and El Fenn are all elegant choices, adorned with a range of subtle to souped-up boho stylings.
“Whether you’re looking to nibble in sun-drenched gardens, or sip coffee in one of a number Parisian-inspired cafes, Marrakech has plenty of savory, mouthwatering options”
JARDIN MAJORELLE / EDWARD HART, UNSPLASH.COM
Jardin Majorelle & Villa Oasis
It took painter Jacques Majorelle four decades to complete his enchanting, brightly colored garden, which conveniently sits beside Villa Oasis, the former home of Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé. Spanning 2.5 acres of cacti, exotic plants, serene streams, pools and pathways, the garden includes a museum (which used to be Majorelle’s painting studio) dedicated to the Berber people of Northern Africa. When Saint Laurent and his partner bought the garden, they set about restoring the Oasis, transforming it into a sumptuous home. Fashion lovers looking to get insight into the designer’s life can arrange a private tour ahead of time.
Sophisticated spa sesh
Think of it as a temple to supreme relaxation, Les Bains De Marrakech, self-described as the “pioneers of private massage” offers an intoxicating range of treatments, such as: underwater massages, an Oriental bath drenched with orange blossom water, body-wrapping with eucalyptus. For a sartorial-slant, Es Saadi Palace Spa, has partnered with the Dior Institut to deliver an exceptional holistic menu of treatments that energize, detoxify, and combat signs of aging. The largest spa in town, the palace also offers traditional hammam favorites, facials and private couple treatments.
RIAD / @BEMARRAKECH, INSTAGRAM
ES SAASI PALACE SPA / @ESSAADIMARRAKECH, INSTAGRAM
“The botanical gardens, with orchards and olive groves, surround an artificial lake built at the foot of the Atlas Mountains by the Almohad dynasty in the 12th century”
Marrakech is more than just a maze of streets and an impressive history. For a taste of what’s exciting inhabitants now, visit Ville Nouvelle. Awash in street-art murals, the new town features cool concept boutiques, galleries and plenty of bars and cafes around the Guéliz neighborhood. This is also where Jardin Majorelle is located
There’s almost too much to fit into one trip in this city, but you won’t want to miss Koutoubia Mosque and Ben Youssef Madrasa. The tallest building in Marrakesh, Koutoubia dates back to the 12th century when it was erected by the Almohad dynasty, and stands as a striking example of Moorish architecture. Throughout the day, you’ll hear the muezzin’s call to prayer rise up over the rose-colored buildings. A 14th-century theological school, Ben Youssef Madrasa was once home to 900 students. Replete with intricate interior decor, marble patios, courtyards and stunning pools, the madrasa is not to be missed. And of course the magnificent Menara Gardens. The botanical gardens, with orchards and olive groves, surround an artificial lake built at the foot of the Atlas Mountains by the Almohad dynasty in the 12th century.
Descend into the lavish burial of the Saadi dynasty that once ruled Morocco. After the family was overthrown, the tombs were sealed in the 17th century only to be rediscovered in 1917. A masterpiece of craftsmanship, the elaborate tombs and elaborate gardens might sound a bit morbid, but the setting is rife with intrigue.
KOUTUBUA MOSQUE / @ADRIEN ANNE, PEXELS.COM
Spanning 20 acres, this sprawling imperial structure is one of the best-kept sites in Marrakech. Meaning “brilliant” in Arabic, Bahia was built in the 19th century by Si Moussa, the chamberlain for Sultan Hassan I. Bahia Palace was designed to surpass all others in elegance and style. A marriage of Andalusian and Moorish influence, the palace remains extraordinarily well-preserved.
Ready to escape the city center? Anima is an art enclave situated on the outskirts of the city. Established by artist André Heller, Anima is an imaginative garden oasis that houses the work of local and international talent besides Pablo Picasso and Keith Haring. Set amongst 250 varieties of plants (think: bamboo, cactus, palms and more), the magical garden features a cafe named after famed American writer Paul Bowles (and many of the ingredients used come straight from the garden). Free shuttles ferry patrons back and forth from central Marrakech.
MENARA GARDENS /@TOWN.LAND.RIVER, INSTAGRAM
GARDEN IN THE BAHIA PALACE / @REEPETITE, INSTAGRAM
Reflecting on the trip, you’ll be amazed at the richness of the color palette, the warmth of the people and the creativity brimming in every corner of this beautiful city. For more travel tips and inspiration connect with us on Instagram @whind