A week in
Anyone who has been to Marrakesh will tell you the city isn’t as much a destination as it is an experience. Morocco’s ‘Jewel of the South’ is certainly that – a treasure in the midst of chaos.
By Nadia Pizzimenti
The first taste of Marrakesh might leave you with sensory overload: scooters whizzing by, shop keepers ushering you into their store, or snake charmers ready to place their pet around your neck. All of this is happening against a backdrop of sandy pinks and peaches, streets lined with roses, and the intoxicating smell of Moroccan bread. Winding paths and alleyways are decorated with embellished doors and stucco walls. Enter through one of those doors and chances are you’ll walk into a Riad (a traditional Moroccan house or palace) covered in tiles, tapestries, fountains, and more.
The luxury that lies within the walls of the city, from visiting the newly opened YSL Museum and Gardens, to spending a day getting pampered at a hammam, or even glamping in the Sahara Desert, will have you dreaming of this enchanting place long after your visit is over.
Where to eat
Previously an old carpet store, Nomad is the second instagram-able Medina retreat by Kamal Laftimi. You’ll find ‘Modern Moroccan’ cuisine here, as well as international fare with a Moroccan twist. Cool off with one of their many juices or smoothies while enjoying the view that looks over famed spice square Rahba Lakdima and the Atlas Mountains.
After navigating the ancient labyrinth that is the Marrakesh Medina, you’ll no doubt work up an appetite. Enter Le Jardin, an emerald tiled oasis and retreat from a day of bargaining and shopping. Mint tea is a staple here and enjoyable even on the warmer days. Start off sampling the traditional Moroccan salads and work your way to one of the many drool-worthy tajines.
Where to STAY
With seven traditional courtyard houses, 28 uniquely decorated suites, a spa and hammam, a heated marble swimming pool, an impressive art collection, and a 7000 sq. ft. rooftop terrace, El Fenn ranks as one of the most stylish and luxurious hotels in the city. After a day at the world famous Djemaa el Fenna square (which is only five minutes from the hotel), you’ll need a little tranquility to return to. Relaxation is not hard to come by at El Fenn, with its manicured gardens, library, yoga classes, painting kits, and a visit to the boutique filled with local artisan treasures. End your day at the cocktail bar, where you can enjoy a perfectly crafted Negroni while sitting by the fire.
Where to DRINK
Driving up to Comptoir Darna, you will notice a change in atmosphere. Designer stores are on every corner, and bouncers greet world travellers and Marrakesh’s in-crowd at the doors of stylish restaurants and nightclubs. Comtoir Darna is no different; it’s a two-level villa, serving Moroccan style dinner, creative cocktails, and an impressive lineup of belly dancers and musicians.
Once you have walked through an entrance of lush gardens, passed a myriad of marble and tiles, and walked through one of Marrakesh’s most elegant hotels, you’ll find a smoky, dark, jazz-filled bar called Le Churchill. The hotel has hosted Winston Churchill himself, and it’s no secret why. Luxury is evident in every detail of the bar, from the carefully-crafted cocktails, to the leather studded walls and leopard-print fringed chairs.
Where to SHOP
Want to test your will power? Try entering a Chabi Chic store and not leaving with several variations of ceramic trays, handcrafted vases, argan oil perfumes, and a pair or two of hand-stitched slippers. Created by Parisians Vanessa Di Mino and Nadia Noel, this lifestyle concept store is at the forefront of new trends and showcases Moroccan style revisited.
33 Rue Majorelle
Located across the street from famed Jardin Majorelle, 33 Rue Majorelle is a concept store like no other in Marrakesh. Here you’ll find slightly higher-end versions of what one might see in the market. The store represents 90-plus independent artisans, selling everything from tea sets to leather bags.
What to visit
Nubia Luxury Camp: 3-Day Sahara Desert Experience
If you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience in Morocco, this is it. You’ll spend the first day winding through the Atlas Mountains, the scenery drastically changing as each hour passes. Upon arrival you are greeted at sunset by your desert camp team. Follow the path of Moroccan rugs to one of the eight tented suites, each boasting the luxuries and decor of a boutique hotel. A mouth-watering feast of tajines, fresh bread, olives, and wine is accompanied by a warm fire, traditional Berber music, and a sky full of stars.
The sunrise isn’t to be missed, as it peaks up over the sand dunes, and you enjoy a breakfast of yogurt, crepes, shakshouka, and more. It’s a great way to start a fully-packed day of camel trekking, visiting a nomadic family, lunching and napping in a desert oasis under the afternoon sun, sand boarding, and ending your day trekking up a mountainous sand dune to watch the sunset over the Sahara.
On your way back to Marrakesh, you’ll have the incredible opportunity to visit a Moroccan rug showroom and learn about the different female Berber tribes that make these works of art and even attempt a hand weaving lesson of your own.