As well as exploring the less-trodden echelons of central Morocco, our Acting Assistant Editor Melissa couldn’t resist spending a few days amongst the famous feast-for-the-senses streets of Marrakech.
My friend Roberta and I believe a good adventure requires lots of exciting things to see and do, and plenty of tranquil sanctuaries to rest and recuperate in afterwards. We stayed in 3 very different i-escape hotels during our May visit to Marrakech, each offering their own enchanting take on the Moroccan city hideaway. And in between haggling for leather shoes and gazing at hand-painted bowls, we discovered some wonderfully restorative pit-stops for lunch and light refreshments. Here, I name-check our highlights.
The homely riad
Perfect for a low-key, personable base, we fell for Dar Zaman instantly. How could we not when the small team provide such a warm welcome? Hassan in particular made our late-night arrival into this chaotic city utterly stress-free, meeting us from our car, ensuring everything was ready for our pre-requested dinner and carefully explaining a map of the city on our first morning. With just 4 guest rooms, this place feels more like a home than a hotel, and we felt utterly at ease from the moment we arrived.
The tardis hotel
Not what you’d expect in central Marrakech and all the more wonderful for it. Villa des Orangers has acres of space and offers utter tranquility from the moment you walk through the unassuming front door. Rooms are huge (most have private terraces), there’s an oasis of a walled garden filled with shady corners and a palatial pool, and the restaurant serves outstanding med-fusion cuisine. Agreed, it’s not the most authentic Moroccan menu, but it made a welcome change after a week of tagines.
The grand palace
If you want the wow-factor, Ksar Char Bagh has it in spades. Nestled in La Palmeraie, this imposing Moorish-inspired palace is one for the jet-set crowd. Every turn of a corner brings another photo-worthy vista. Service is hushed, the pool is lined with flawless white loungers, and the grounds sweep endlessly around the palace, punctuated only by gently swaying palms.
The refreshments (all of which can be found in the medina)
Our first choice for a sunset tipple. Head straight to the rooftop bar, where cute little tables and sprawling sofas await. It’s often busy, understandably, but the bellinis are fabulous and the cityscape views come alive at dusk.
It’s seriously hard to find – ask a shopkeeper for directions if you get stuck – and the service is super laid-back, but it’s architecturally mesmerising so all is forgiven. Order orange cake (outstanding) with mint tea (of course), and leave any sense of urgency at the door.
Terrace des Epices
We stumbled upon this rooftop gem by accident and boy were we delighted. In the baking heat of the midday sun, we slid into one of the many shaded booths where water gently mists overhead. Add to that cold glasses of sweet, fresh orange juice and a Franco-Moroccan menu encompassing everthing from grilled meats to fresh salads, and we were ready to down our shopping bags for good!
Now you’ve chosen your favourites, find out more about Marrakech >>