From the winding maze of souks in the medina to the ancient geometric zellij tiling on the walls of mosques and riads - Marrakech is a city of mystery and pure magic.
Moroccan architecture and design is what drew us to Marrakech in the first place. With fragrant courtyards, soaring arches, magnificent tile-work and moorish lattices - it's one of the most awe-inspiring places I've ever been
LANGUAGE: French, Arabic, Berber
CURRENCY: Moroccan Dirham (different from Arabic Dirham). 1 USD is approximately 10 MAD. Carry cash and be prepared to haggle.
CLIMATE: warm year round with 55° lows and highs up to 100° in the summer months. We were there in june and average temp was 85°.
GETTING AROUND: walking and taxis. However, walking through the medina can be chaotic. The streets aren't marked so cars (and horses) seem to zig-zag - be aware.. Taxi drivers are given a generous percentage of sales when they bring tourists to certain shops so no need to give them a large tip if you're on a "tour" with one of them.
CULTURE: Morocco is a muslim country, so a few things to keep in mind:
- Dress appropriately: as a woman you don't need to wear a hijab, but definitely cover your shoulders and knees and avoid skin-tight clothing.
- Left hand is considered "unclean" so be sure to eat and greet with your right.
- Fridays: this is their Holy Day so a lot of businesses are closed.
- When planning your trip, check the dates for ramadan as this may affect your overall experience.
While the souks were vibrant and amusing to explore, I came across a number of other great shops in Gueliz selling local artisan goods:
- 33 MAJORELLE | This concept store was one of my favorites. featuring high-quality items, from stunning caftans to leather and woven goods, hats, handmade jewlery, bold pop art, vibrant home furniture anddecor, books, etc.
- BOUTIQUE MAJORELLE | located within Jardin Majorelle and features silk and cotton clothing (produced on site), leather goods, artisanal soaps, traditional preserves. you'll also find hand-wover textiles designed by loulou de la falaise, yves saint laurent's former studio director responsible for accessories.
- GALLERIE SANGREAL | This boutique is like an elevated souk. you'll find the same items you'd shop for in the medina (pottery, pillows, rugs and textiles, metalwork, etc) but in a more tailored setting.
eat, drink & sleep
- NOMAD | 4-floors of dining with a magnificent rooftop bar boasting incredible views of the Atlas Mountains and the Medina. Good for lunch or dinner.
- TERRASE DES EPICES | This rooftop restaurant is right in the heart of the bustling medina and has great food, pastries and cocktails.
- AL FASSIA | Located in Gueliz and run by women, this is a great place for traditional Moroccan food.
- LA SULTANA | Right in the medina, this riad features a pool, spa, game room and rooftop restaurant overlooking the Saadian Tombs. There were about 30 fountains throughout the riad, each filled with roses that flooded the multiple courtyards with fragrance. Service was remarkable as we were greeted with mint tea upon arrival and were upgraded to a luxury suite.
- LA MAMOUNIA | This palatial resort is one of the most luxurious in Marrakech. After our eventful visit to Jardin Majorelle, we celebrated our engagement over a bottle of bubbly in the gardens.
- EL FENN | Vanessa Branson's gorgeous 28-room riad is cool, contemporary and beautifully designed. Most likely where we'll stay on our next visit.