Marrakech is a destination like no other. A historic trading post for goods from the Mediterranean and African subcontinent, it’s colorful, loud, crowded, and utterly captivating. The night-time bustle of the main square Jemaa el Fna, with its storytellers, snake charmers and food stalls, fills the air with fragrant scents and snippets of music, and at sunset the walls of the medina seem to glow from within in the low orange light. The hammams, peaceful riads, and mint tea rituals form a calming counterpoint to the madness of Marrakech, which can at time feel like overwhelming assault on the senses.
The best time to visit is spring or fall, when warm days are welcome. In high summer, the heat can be stifling, leaving you without the energy you need to explore this fascinating place.
If it’s your first visit to the city, give yourself time to adjust to the different rhythms of life here and remember that the way things are done might be different to how you’re used to doing them. A little patience can go a long way into getting into the swing of the city.
No trip to the city would be complete without an afternoon wandering through the winding lanes of the souks - packed with market stalls spilling over with carpets, spices, ceramics and more. From oversized metalwork lanterns just perfect to hang over your dining room table, to leatherwork slippers and chic woven beach bags, the conundrum is choosing what to take home with you. Some stalls have items of higher quality than others, so take the time to look before you leap.
Haggling over the price is an accepted, indeed expected part of the buying process in the souks, so don’t be embarrassed when a seller asks what you would pay. Just remember, if you name a price and the seller agrees, you’re expected to go through with the purchase. Agreeing to buy something and then backing out is best avoided - it’s considered extremely impolite.
For a complete change of pace from the Medina, the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech’s Nouvelle Ville is a wonderful place to spend a couple of hours. Designed and planted by the French landscape painter Jacques Majorelle in the 1930s, it’s a riot of colour — brilliant blue walls, terracotta planters, and yellow-painted woodwork — set against the peaceful greens of waterlilies, cacti and weeping willows.
In 1980, the garden was due to be turned into a hotel complex when it was saved by French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent who moved into the villa on site with his partner and set about restoring the former glory of the space. Today you can stroll the paths, marvel at the beautiful leatherwork in the shop, sit under a shaded tree with a glass of mint tea in the cafe, and be inspired by the beauty of nature.
The beating heart of Marrakech, the Jemaa el Fna square seems like nothing much under the bright glare of the midday sun, but as the sun begins to set, the square begins to come to life. For hundreds of years, locals have gathered here to tell stories, listen to music, eat at the street food stalls and pass the time of day with one another. If you’re feeling adventurous take a seat at one of the street food stalls, or if not, grab a mint tea at a terrace overlooking the square and watch the action unfold.
In the shadow of the Atlas mountains and bordering the Sahara desert, the city of Ouarzazate, with its desert pink walls and starry nights, is an otherworldly destination. The town served as a meeting and trading point for the tribes of the Atlas mountains for hundreds of years, but the city you see today was built by the French as a garrison town in the 1920s. The city is the jumping-off point for trips into the Sahara.
One of the most appealing contrasts in Marrakech is the way you can step through a nondescript door in the bustling Medina and find yourself in the courtyard of a blissfully quiet riad - where the only sounds is the tinkle of mint tea being poured to welcome your arrival. The concept of a riad is unique to Morocco. The word “riad” originally meant “garden” but is commonly used to describe a former family home centered around a courtyard and converted into a guesthouse with a small number of bedrooms. Many offer breakfast and dinner, and many also have a hammam on-site for the all-important ritual of cleansing and purification, as well as a pool to help you cool down after a long day exploring the city. A stay at our villas in Marrakech Medina is a great way to enjoy luxurious, restful accommodation in the heart of the action.
A tranquil oasis just outside Marrakech, La Palmeraie is, as its name suggests, a palm grove - albeit a gigantic one. You’ll find several hundred thousand date palms here, along with olive and fruit trees, all spread out over 54 sq miles. Our La Palmeraie luxury villas are close to several upscale resorts including Nikki Beach, and many of Morocco's most well-heeled citizens live in the area. If you’re interested in a round of golf or two during your trip to Marrakech, you’ll find some great options here, such as the Palm Golf course, designed by the renowned Robert Trent Jones Sr, which offers a challenging course with a beautiful view of the Atlas Mountains.