go


Advertisement

    Marrakesh

    I just took a very impromptu first trip to Marrakesh, Morocco where I fell in love with the place, it's magic. An absolute world away in almost every respect, there is something special in the air there. It is a place I will surely revisit. Through mutual friends, we befriended two very lovely (and handsome!) men who have made Marrakesh their home. They unmasked the city and along with our guide Laetitia, opened it's seemingly mysterious doors. Here, we've put together a list of the most in-the-know spots.

    Love,
    gp

    Places to Stay

    La Mamounia
    Avenue Bab Jdid
    Marrakesh Medina
    +212.524.388.600
    mamounia.com

    I stayed at the revamped historic La Mamounia Hotel, located in the heart of the imperial city. The Jacques Garcia designed interiors are splendid to say the least, and the hotel’s gardens are out of this world, almost from a fairy tale. The hotel has four restaurants supplying cuisine from around the world – L’Italien, Le Francais, Le Marocain and Le Pavillion de la Piscine – and five bars to choose from – Le Bar Marocain, Le Bar Italien, Le Bar Churchill, Le Bar de la Piscine and Le Menzeh “Glacier & Patissier.” The food and drinks here are elegant and delicious and with all the choices, it’s easy to stay in the hotel for an entire weekend of relaxation. Speaking of which, I couldn’t resist a daily Hammam treatment at the hotel’s spa. Get this: 15 minutes in a steam room, a full-body lather in Black Soap, an exfoliating rub down, a Ghassoul (Moroccan clay) body masque, and then a warm shower... Ridiculously lavish!

    My friends who live in Morocco and know all the ins and outs have also recommended a few other great places to stay in Marrakesh:

    Riad El Fenn
    Derb Moullay Abdullah Ben Hezzian
    Bab el Ksour
    Marrakesh Medina
    +212.524.44.12.10
    riadelfenn.com

    For the eco-chic tourist, Vanessa Branson’s hotel and spa, Riad El Fenn, is a restored palatial home with a local and organic restaurant. They even try to source their vegetables from the Riad’s own farm. The hotel is small and exclusive and each room is decorated individually. Watch out for it, as it’s a hidden spot near downtown Marrakesh.

    Le Bab
    Angle bd Mansour Eddahbi,
    Rue Mohamed El Beqal,
    Guéliz
    For reservations: resa@babhotelmarrakech.com

    This hotel is hip and sleek with a color palate limited to black and white. A boutique hotel, it has only 45 rooms and they are most definitely a great deal for Marrakesh. Le Bab is located in Guéliz, which has a distinctly modern feel as opposed to the Medina which is more traditional. I like that you can rent bicycles and Segways from the hotel to explore the city your way.

    Amanjena
    Route De Ouarzazate, Km 12
    +212.524.40.33.53

    Many of my friends have recommended the Amanjena, one of the Aman resorts, singing praises of its spectacular lodgings, service, gardens and pavilions (that’s right, not rooms – pavilions). It’s a splurge, but worth the trip just to visit the lush grounds, maybe for dinner or for a tea in the late afternoon.

    Shopping and the Souk

    In Marrakesh there is a sprawling Souk or traditional Moroccan marketplace, where myriad goods are sold in small stalls and stands that line labyrinthine hallways. Fruits, vegetables, rugs, lamps, furniture, spices and handcrafts are all sold here and have been for centuries. I loved the colorful pharmacies chock full of jars of herbs for all kinds of maladies, argon oil and khol for traditional eye-makeup. A great deal of haggling takes place at the souks, so brace yourself for bargaining.

    Laetitia Trouillet, our wonderful shopping guide, took us around to a few great boutiques and guided us through the souk, which can be overwhelming without the right person. If you’re ever shopping in Marrakesh, she’s the person to call. Below are a few shops and restaurants she recommends along with the spots I visited on my trip.

    Rates:

    250 Euros for a full day of shopping for two, including transport.
    150 Euros for a half day of shopping
    Contact: info@lalla.fr
    +212 (0) 6 61 477 228

    Mustapha Blaoui
    Rue Bab Doukkala #142/144
    Marrakesh Médina
    +212.524.38.52.40

    A well-stocked and elegant one stop shop for all things traditionally Moroccan.

    Cherkaoui Artisanat Export
    120-122 Mouassine
    Marrakesh
    +212.524.42.68.17

    An endless corridor of gold lamps in every shape and size. I had considerable trouble walking away without buying the whole store!

    Atelier Moro
    Place de la Fontaine
    Marrakesh Médina
    +212.524.39.16.78

    This store, owned by Viviana Gonzalez, has an eclectic mix of locally made accessories, clothing and furniture – folk with a modern twist. I especially loved the red walls, the camel-skin covered floors, and how beautifully the objects were displayed.

    Stephanie Jewels
    Kissaria Chrifia N°60
    Mouassine
    +212.613.70.70.22l
    stephaniejewels.com

    This boutique opened just three weeks ago in Marrakesh, though it has a loyal following in Paris, already. Now Stephanie lives in Morrocco where she designs her delicate, signature pieces.

    Yahya
    61 Rue de Yugoslavie
    Guéliz
    +212.524.42.27.76

    This store is run by a British man named John who moved to Marrakech and converted to Islam and now “lives and looks like Cat Stevens,” according to my local friend. The Moroccan lanterns of all shapes and sizes that are sold in the store are of amazing quality and craftmanship.

    Lalla - From Marrakesh with Love xxx
    Souk Cherifia - 1st floor.
    Sidi Abdelazziz
    Dar El Bacha souk entrance
    Marrakesh Medina
    +212.661.47.72.28

    This is Laetitia’s own boutique where she sells handbags, accessories and homegrown vintage. Shop here and then you can relax up the stairs at La Terrasse des épices (below).

    Kechmara
    3 rue de la liberté
    Marrakesh Guéliz
    +212.524.42.24.32
    kechmara.com

    Also located in the new part of town, this restaurant has clean lines and a modern look. The café, restaurant and terrace are a local hot spot with live music on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Stop by for a croque-monsieur and a salad.

    For Mid-Shopping Lunch

    La Terrasse des épices
    15, souk Cherifia. Sidi Abdelaziz
    Marrakesh Medina
    + 212.524.37.59.04
    terrassedesepices.com

    This airy restaurant on a terrace overlooking the Cherifia Souk serves up light, simple Moroccan fare. The food is delicious and the place is so inviting you could easily while away the whole afternoon. (Drinkers beware, no alcohol served here.)

    Grand Café de La Poste
    Angle Boulevard El mansour Eddahbi et Avenue Imam Malik
    Guéliz
    +212.524.43.30.38
    grandcafedelaposte.com

    Located in the new part of town. The food is French and the place, a renovated post office, has an old, elegant yet casual air.

    For Dinner

    Dar Marjana
    15, Derb Sidi Ali Tair, Bab Doukkala
    Marrakesh Medina
    +212.524.38.51.10
    darmarjanaMarrakech.com

    I had the pleasure of dining at this restaurant which means “rare pearl” and indeed it is, found in the district that used to make up the Pasha’s palace. The restaurant is in a restored mansion and every night you’ll find the best traditional Moroccan dishes fit for a king (in fact, King Mohammed VI is known to visit here from time to time). It sounds exotic, but I promise the pigeon pie is a must! The added bonus to meals here is that belly dancers serenade your table, which my friends got beyond into. I’d almost like to upload the footage on YouTube – it’s that good – but for now I’ll leave to the imagination.

    Le Comptoir
    Av. Echouhada Hivernage
    +212.524.43.77.02

    A bar, a restaurant and a boutique, Le Comptoir does it all. The sprawling building has a clubby feel to it. My local friends have mentioned that it is a tourist spot, but it’s great fun just the same. A good spot for dinner and a drink plus, there’s a belly-dance show every night at 10:30.

    Al Fassia
    55, Boulevard Zerktouni
    Guéliz
    +212.524.43.40.60
    alfassia.com

    This restaurant boasts some of the best traditional Moroccan cuisine in Marrakesh. Be sure to book in advance as it’s always full. Laetitia highly recommends the Lamb Shoulder for two.

    Azar
    Rue de Yougoslavie
    Guéliz
    +212 (0) 524 43 09 20
    azarMarrakech.com

    Open night and day, this club dishes Lebanese food, fancy drinks at the bar and dance music downstairs.

    Bô-Zin
    Douar Lahna
    Route de l’Ourika
    +212.524.38.80.12
    bo-zin.com

    The best parties in town go down here in yet another luxury-laden setting.

    From Michael Berg, several holy sites worth visiting in and near Marrakesh. These are the places where several Jewish saints are buried:

    • Saint Hanania Cohen is buried in the city’s Jewish cemetery.
    • Saint Yaacob Nahamias or Moul Almay, is buried in the town of Sidi Rahal, near Marrakech.
    • Rabbi Shlomo ben Hensh is found in the Ourika valley, about 2 hours from Marrakech.
    • Saint David Lachkar or Moulay Ighi, is buried at the highest point on the road to Ouarzazate, in the stronghold of the most powerful Berber family of the twentieth century, the Glaoui.

    The goop collection

    Advertisement

Advertisement