A colourful, bustling metropolis that is steeped in history and culture, the sights and sounds of Marrakech will ensure any stay in the ancient city is a memorable one. The Red City boasts a unique charm thanks to its fascinating blend of old and new, allowing tourists to stay in luxurious hotels and browse high fashion boutiques, while also exploring ancient souks and intriguing heritage sites. While the Moroccan city has long been favoured by visitors from around the globe, in recent years, its appeal has grown, given its thrilling mix of culture, architecture, food and shopping. Exceptionally popular in spring before the extreme heat of summer arrives, it has developed a dynamic restaurant scene and has also become home to a host of concept fashion stores. Here’s why a trip to Marrakech should be on everyone’s travel radar.
Master the medina
While it may appear intimidating and you are almost certain to get a little lost, a trip to the bustling medina is a must. Enclosed within 19 kilometres of power-pink ramparts that were constructed in the 12th century, visitors can explore the showstopping souks and watch enthralling street performances by musicians, acrobats and snake charmers. The medina is also where tourists can sample a range of classic dishes lovingly prepared by vendors who have mastered their craft with slow-cooked lamb almost always on the menu. But perhaps the most popular pastime is wandering through the labyrinth of souks where you’ll discover colourful spices, handcrafted carpets and artisan workshops selling a range of trinkets. If you are in the medina at night, then make sure to stroll into the vast square of Djemaa El Fna where there is always a carnival atmosphere. This lively area is home to a range of coffee shops and restaurants, and this is also where you will find everything from magicians to soothsayers.
Shopping beyond the souks
If you want to avoid the bustling markets and prefer to explore designer brands and high-end concept stores, there are plenty of options throughout Marrakech. Akkal in the Quartier Industriel is home to unique stores that specialise in ceramics and colourful fabrics, while Kulchi has a plethora of textile and print stores.
When it comes to fashion, Norya ayroN has a small boutique that takes traditional Moroccan attire and brings them into the modern day with colourful fabrics.
Here you will discover a unique selection of kaftans and kandouras, and while the shop may be small, it has attracted a host of A-list celebrities. Equally interesting is Max&Jan, an extremely hip store that has a huge selection of handbags, accessories and stylish babouche slippers. The shop also has a huge range of souvenirs to mark your trip to the beautiful city.
Explore the rich culture
Being a city that blends old and new, there is plenty of culture to explore throughout Marrakech. When it comes to modern attractions, the Musée Yves Saint Laurent is a must for fashionistas. The captivating museum showcases a series of collections of haute couture clothing and accessories that span 40 years of creative work by the legendary French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.
For those wishing to learn more about the history of the city, the Saadian Tombs date back more than
400 years and showcase the wealth of Saadian Sultan Ahmed Al Mansour Ed Dahbi. He ensured no expense was spared when constructing the mausoleum of Italian marble and gilding honeycomb muqarnas
(decorative plasterwork) with pure gold. Bahia Palace and the Dar Si Said are also exquisite examples of architecture, with intricate tile work and floral-painted wood ceilings. Equally appealing is the Jardin Majorelle, a two-and-half-acre botanical garden created by the French Orientalist artist, Jacques Majorelle,
over almost forty years.
Lap of luxury
When it comes to accommodation options, there is a wealth of choices, but perhaps the most iconic is
Palmeraie Palace, which has recently been rebranded as the Palmeraie Rotana Resort complex. Located on
a stunning 230-hectare palm grove, the hotel has 640 rooms and suites, an 18-hole championship golf course, 13 unique dining destinations, a Bodylines Fitness & Wellness Club and Zen the spa, complete with a hammam, sauna and indoor pool. The Palmeraie Palace boasts plenty of Moroccan charm, Hôtel du Golf Rotana is a laid back five-star hotel overlooking the golf course and Golf Club Rotana is an exclusive property featuring 11 riad-style suites with views of the fairways and the Atlas Mountains.
The complex is also a dynamic dining destination in its own right with a host of restaurants serving a range
of cuisines, including Moroccan, French, Mediterranean, Asian and Brazilian. In addition, city tours and adventure activities such as camel rides and quad biking can be booked through the concierge.