Marrakech and its mysteries are just perfect for an Agatha Christie story just like “Destination Unknown” – Jemaa el Fna Square in the Medina, filled with noise and confusion, packed with people, snake charmers, performing monkeys, stalls, working donkeys, horse and carriages, bikes and motorbikes – it’s a whole mish-mash of everything going on all at once.
Through the heat and the crowds is the relative cool and dark of the souks. You can buy anything and everything, and although you know it’s overpriced and less than top quality – the magic of the moment, the thrill of the barter will get to you, and you will come home with a bag of trinkets and a smile at the end of it all!
But beware! They are experts at showing their wares and bargaining to the hilt. Their first price is usually 3 times inflated, so if you can bargain to a third or less… you may be the winners. Lotions, potions, tassels, key rings and bangles – they look so enticing sparkling out in the sun on the stall… they look so different when you come home – but they still bring a smile when you remember your triumph at the purchase – and that’s what it’s all about!
Where will you stay? Marrakech has a whole spectrum of accommodation to offer you – these are some that I visited:
Les Jardins de la Medina – a lovely boutique hotel, just 36 rooms has a very homely and comfortable feel, rooms and public places are quirky and the rooftop is beautiful. Lots of quiet spaces. Easy walking distance to the Saadian Tombs, and within the old city walls.
Riad Kniza – an original Moroccan home, over 200 years old, and still owned by the family. The style of all Riads is of rooms overlooking an inner courtyard, whose centrepiece is usually a small water fountain. A lovely indoor pool, fabulous rooftop for breakfast and lavish draped rooms – Riad Kniza is a real Moroccan experience. Located in the old city’s busy and bustling alleys by Bab Doukkala, it’s a haven of peace and quiet! Surprisingly! But just minutes from the souks and the Jemaa el Fna Square of the Medina.
La Mamounia – a 5 star experience! Recently completely renovated, with every luxury you can think of… tennis courts, spa treatments, gyms, saunas, spacious, Moroccan style rooms with balconies, shopping, late night bars and fabulous dining. If the marble and gold opulence doesn’t take your breath away – the beautiful orange and olive trees of the gardens and grounds most definitely will! This is an oasis of space amid comfort and the manic noise and crowds of Marrakech!
Villa des Orangers – in the style of Relais and Chateau you know what to expect in comfort and standards. This is an old palace, which has been renovated in the style of a Riad in 2003. The orange trees and their scent fill every corner. Service is discreet, and the atmosphere is … intimate.
Kasbah Tamadot – in the High Atlas Mountains was a find! Just an hour from Marrakech, through some delightful Berber towns and villages, we came upon the huge wooden doors that led up a garden path to Richard Branson’s retreat here in Morocco. Feeling surreal in sumptuous surroundings we had lunch overlooking the infinity pool while a soft breeze cooled us down as we looked out over the barren valley and the mountains beyond!
The Kasbah has all you need for a few days to unwind and enjoy – lovely accommodation, good food and nothing much else to do except walk, swim and read!
Other must dos in Marrakech?
Le Jardin Majorelles – a garden of cacti, huge and curious, of all shapes and sizes and flowering too. The gardens are owned and up kept by the Estate of Yves Saint Laurent.
If you have a couple of evenings The Kosy Bar has a rooftop restaurant overlooking a square, and Le Foundouk Restaurant, in amongst the myriad of alleyways is sumptuous. The taxis get as close as possible and then you are led by a traditionally dressed man, with a lantern, to lead you the rest of the way
Just 3 hours from Gatwick, an Easyjet flight and a meal deal – that’s all! What an amazing city break!