We asked around the gomingo office, “What do you think of when we say Marrakech?”
Some of the team said… Riads, brimming with artisanal styling, a slap to the senses from the Souks and traditional eateries all encapsulated by faith; echoing prayers waking you up to another beautiful day in a sun-drenched cultural epicentre.
The others….. well they said “tea”.
Neither is wrong, but, let us expand. In this article, we’ll be taking you through 6 key features and experiences which make Marrakech a must-visit destination for 2018.
Marrakech’s artisan heritage is transparently visible everywhere you go from the Riad you stay in, to the Souqs you stroll and beyond. Steeped in delicate ancient architecture and artistry there is so much to learn about your beautiful surroundings.
We’d recommend absorbing Marrakech’s history and architecture as one of the first things you do, giving the rest of your trip some context.
Bahia Palace (pictured above) is tiled perfection – walk around, learn and enjoy the surrounding lush gardens. Dar Si Said, home to Moroccan arts is a wonderful museum displaying ornate artisanal Moroccan objects from the 11th-century.
Two alternatives, or if you’ve got the culture bug, two more to visit are Musée de Mouassine and Musée de Marrakech. Musée de Mouassine is a historic treasure chest of delights, they also arrange small concerts and music events which are great to experience in such a lovely setting. Musée de Marrakech is a stunning art museum showcasing a fantastic selection of artisanal pieces, the courtyard is something to behold with an amazingly detailed chandelier hanging low overhead in the traditional courtyard.
There is so much to see in this dusty, vibrant city and really there is no bad time to visit. Heat is synonymous with desert cities and summertime will be beyond scorching hot. You can follow the locals and rest at the peak of the day’s heat by escaping to a tearoom or even a spa.
Marrakesh enjoys a hot, semi-arid steppe climate with incredibly hot summers, warm winters and comfortably hot springs and autumns. Although rarely hitting above 43°, winter nights can drop down to lows of 5°. Rainfall is low and sunny spells are high. Perfection.
Now, most of you will already know you want to stay in a Riad. For those of you who don’t know what a Riad is, here is our dictionary definition; “a large traditional house built around a central courtyard, often converted into a hotel”.
Live like the locals do! As we’ll get into below there are plenty of beautiful Riads for you to stay in, as well as some fantastic Hotels which still hold the traditional ascetics and atmosphere, just in a larger complex with added amenities.
For the Riad lovers, we’d recommend this central Arabian Riad set in the Kasbah district of Marrakech. Beautifully designed, each room is different and its all encapsulated by one hell of a sun terrace, equipped with a bar, restaurant area and sun loungers. You can enjoy a meal with the setting-sun and escape into the clear starlit night sky with a fresh cocktail in hand.
The El Andalous Lounge & Spa Hotel nestled in one of Marrakech’s residential areas is overflowing with class and traditional styling. With a gorgeous pool area and many a spar room, this hotel is perfect for those of you who fancy experiencing the traditionality of Marrakech with all the comforts and facilities of a luxury hotel.
Although the Moroccan nightlife is in essence ‘speakeasy’ mainly due to the law still in place that alcohol can’t be openly poured in view of a mosque… which are… well, everywhere. The welcoming of tourists has led to an active night scene with some fantastic bars to check out after a day out absorbing the sun and culture.
Although most of the venues are relatively upmarket in styling and location, the prices are relatively similar to the UK, a glass of wine for £5 and a cocktail for £7.
Le Grand Café de la Poste is a quality bistro serving French-Morrocan food, although its 1930’s styling and fine food attract many a tourist, its happy hour is what really drags the punters in. Enjoy a cocktail and nibbles here to escape the late afternoon heat and you won’t regret it.
Café Arabe neatly hidden away in upmarket Mouassine is a perfect hideaway, looking extra spectacular at night where the cocktail lounge is dimly lit with candles providing a unique atmosphere. Enjoy a cocktail in this very chilled out lounge for before dinner drinks or even after for a few more.
Undoubtedly the heartbeat of Marrakech is the traditional markets known as Souks. They intertwine and weave around alleyways, whereupon every turn your senses will be attacked by glorious smells and sights. Possibly the most exciting part of the Souks is the haggling, its an undiscovered pleasure that many of us from western civilisations won’t of had the chance to experience. Stand firm, don’t be afraid to walk away and you’ll defiantly save yourself a few dirhams.
We recommend diving in head first, the Souks can be chaotic, but ride the wave and you’ll enjoy it so much more. Eventually, after some deals struck and bags brimming you will surface and can head to a cafe or bar for some refreshing tea.
Now there is a world outside the hustle of modern-influenced yet traditionally-consistent city of Marrakech, where plenty of adventures are to be had. The city is encapsulated by the white tips of the Atlas Mountains cutting through the year-round blue skies not only giving you a view to remember but also sending a call for adventure across the desserts, beckoning to all nomads. We’d recommend booking an excursion to the Ourika valleys, with loads of decent tour operators it’s not hard or expensive to book and explore the ‘real Morrocco’.
There you have it, 6 reason why Marrakech is a must visit. Thinking of booking a trip? Make sure to check out Gomingo’s selection of accommodation here.