Exotic chic in Marrakech

Busy Marrakech!

Busy Marrakech!

As I stepped out of Marrakech’s beautiful airport terminal, I felt pangs of excitement. I’d always wanted to visit this famous Moroccan city. The name itself conjures exotic images of age-old alleys, crowded squares with camels, snake-charmers and carpet sellers, and colourful souks. Those images were soon very real. As I strolled through the Medina or Old Town, I was overwhelmed by the heavy scent of spices (and exhaust fumes) in the air, horse-driven carts, vendors selling all sorts of food, spices and handicraft, and a maze of alleys through atmospheric neighbourhoods with ancient-looking homes and colourful doors. My first day in Marrakech left my head spinning and my senses in knots. Exotic – absolutely. Chic – not really, aside from the riad (house) I stayed at which was spacious and serene.


Horse carriage in Marrakech.

Shopping, spas and restaurants in Marrakech

In the following days, I began to discover another side of Marrakech; a more tranquil, luxurious side tucked away behind the rustic façades and walls of the Medina, hidden from prying eyes. I found beautiful cafés on rooftops with panoramic views of the Medina and the chaotic streetlife below; lounges behind colourful chiffon curtains where guests sit on plush velvet cushions amidst palms and soothing fountains; restaurants with top-notch service and ditto food; and gorgeous hammams where you could get a thorough spa treatment. I gradually discovered all sorts of possibilities for a luxurious getaway in Marrakech, and to top it off, they didn’t cost an arm and a leg, well, aside from alcoholic drinks, which are heavily taxed by the government.


The Jemaa El-Fna square in Marrakech

Marrakech is a shopper’s haven, especially if you’re interested in leather goods, art, home decorations and antiques. Take your time exploring the souks and the alleys of the Medina. You’ll discover a plethora of shops selling all sorts of antiques, spices, carpets, lamps, brass-framed mirrors, fabrics and leather clothing, shoes and bags. Oh yes, and don’t forget to bargain!


Lamps and antiques galore!


and lots of spices!

The Souk in Marrakech.

The Souk in Marrakech.

Once you’re done exploring (and shopping in) the Medina and its souks, spoil yourself with a spa treatment – the whole spa concept was probably invented here (though Bali may disagree). There’s a wide variety to choose from: authentic hammams to elaborate spa complexes. I really enjoyed Hammam Ziani, an atmospheric hammam near the Bahia Palace, with separate sections for men and women. If you’re looking to truly indulge yourself, I can recommend the award-winning Heritage Spa. They offer a large variety of treatments in a beautiful riad. Other absolutely gorgeous spas in Marrakech I can recommend are La Mamounia and Royal Mansour (its wrought-iron atrium is stunning!). Reservations are advisable.

Royal Mansour

In the evening, head to Red Sun, a plush restaurant/lounge that serves Asian-fusion cuisine and delicious cocktails in a romantic setting. For great, reasonably-priced Moroccan food with a view, you could try Casa Saada, near the Saadian tombs. Go right to the roof terrace and enjoy the views over Marrakech (and the nearby storks’ nests) and order fresh orange juice and a lamb or chicken tagine.

Where to stay in Marrakech

There are many hotels in Marrakech including luxurious accommodation options. You could opt for a five-star hotel but why should you when you can indulge yourself in a traditional riad. The riad I stayed at, Riad Le Coq Berbere, is a good example; located in a quiet area in the Medina yet close to all the major sights, the riad had a little plunge pool, beautifully decorated rooms and bathroom, and a fabulous rooftop deck.

Riad Le Coq Berbere

After several days of strolling around Marrakech and exploring its many nooks and corners, I began to discover numerous reasons that make this city a real bargain for those looking for a luxurious getaway. It may not have the wide array of affordable luxury options that some European cities offer, but if you’re looking for something exotic and chic but affordable, I would recommend Marrakech.

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14 Responses to “Exotic chic in Marrakech”

  1. rob hermans 13/10/2013 3:20 pm

    I visited Morocco some time ago now, It truly is beautiful!!! Fes, Errachidia, Taghit, the Atlas mountains and the desert.. But I didn’t get to Marrakech yet. You go me inspired to get back.. 🙂

  2. noel 18/09/2013 4:22 am

    Marrakesh is a wonderful place to explore and discover a touch of the exotic with the food, shopping, exploration and lifestyle. There is so much to see and experience and your post was fun to revisit some of those favorites, thanks for sharing.

  3. Jonathan Look, Jr. 16/09/2013 1:31 am

    The name alone makes me want to visit. The fact that the place is actually just so amazing cool makes it a very near future trip! Thanks for sharing your impressions and amazing images.

  4. Raymond Waruhari 11/09/2013 1:11 pm

    I have once been to Marrakech and Jemaa El Fna square was a real deal.

  5. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures 10/09/2013 11:50 pm

    Such an awesome city! It has the best boutique hotels.

  6. Keith Jenkins 10/09/2013 10:42 am

    I loved my stay in the riad. Really amazes me how tranquil they are and the the warm Moroccan interiors are so striking.


  7. Renuka 10/09/2013 8:56 am

    Marrakech looks so warm and homely!

  8. Sand In My Suitcase 10/09/2013 1:03 am

    Staying in a riad sounds like a wonderful accommodation option when visiting Marrakech – immersing you in the local culture a little… Nice…

  9. Keith Jenkins 09/09/2013 8:03 pm

    Yup, that’s Marrakech! Exotic and colourful! 🙂


  10. Maria 09/09/2013 7:49 pm

    Exotic and Colorful for sure – great photos and a wonderful overview of Marrakech.


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