One of my close friends was having a significant birthday this year, and to celebrate he invited a group of us to Marrakech, Morocco for a long weekend of celebrations. It was a very early morning flight with EasyJet but we popped the bubbly early, and before we knew it we were in the magical city that is Marrakech.
He has arrange for us to all be staying in our own Riad, which was situated right in the middle of the red city. I had a lovely rooftop room, and it had all the traditional moorish architecture that I love. There was also lots of rooftop space to relax with great views over the city. I spend many mornings in the early sun listening to the calls to prayer and chilling with a good book. It also came with some very friendly cats, one even tried to be my roommate.
One of the major highlights of our trip was a visit to Jardin Majorelle – better known as Yves Saint Laurent Gardens. World famous for being an oasis in the busy city with the striking YSL blue house and accents. It was stunning, I went crazy with my camera as so beautiful, from the bamboo avenues, to the fountains, galleria of love, YSL memorial to the Berber Museum. I could of spent hours there, and would of loved to just sit still to try to take it all in. It is as you can imagine very popular attractive, and an Instagram hotspot with lots of people especially dressed up to take pictures against the blue walls. I also really enjoyed learning more about the berber culture in the museum, is well worth the extra money to visit.
You have to take a walk through the souks and do some bargaining. I also got a fair few marriage offers too. There is quite an atmosphere in the souks, you feel like you are underground at times and that you are in a bit of a maze. I also came across some piece of great street art, which was a bit of a surprise to see in such an ancient and traditional place as the souks. You do met a lot of characters, from a lovely man who sold me a mini chess set which he made using his feet and who made me a chess piece necklace when I told him that learning to play chess was on my bucket list. To founding a lot of different creature for sell, include a little iguana with lots of personality. Beyond the souks, you need to definitely go visit the spice market, and experience that sensual overload, whilst in that side of town also walk around the jewish quarter and go to Palais de la Bahia, which is a name means brilliance and is a 19th century palace and garden.
You can’t visit Morocco and not go for a hammam, it was one of the few things that I was most excited about. I went to Les Bains de Azahara which was based in the Red City, in a lovely old house.
Top Travel Tip: We did get lost at times, especially in the Red City which is very easily done. But be cautious of getting help from locals, many are very sweet and friendly, but some will offer you help then demand money so be careful, at times even very aggressive demand payment.
At the hammam, I went for the special package, which includes the hammam exfoliation with traditional black eucalyptus soap, a foot bath with rose petals and short foot massage of 5 minutes and an hour relaxing moroccan massage. That was 400 Dh, which is roughly £32, a bargain. As you can expect, they provide you with a robe but also some very stylish very small paper panties – did make for good laughs. If you have never had a hammam before, you will be shocked by how much dead skin they can remove from you and you wouldn’t expect it to be a relaxing experience but it really is and you leave feeling refreshing, baby soft and glowing. If I could I would go gone each day of the trip, and am always trying to find a good hammam in the London.
Other highlights of the trip included going out to an oasis park and riding a camel for the first time, and ticking that off my bucket list. You can read more about that adventure here.
After our camel ride, we had to make a stop for a cocktails (well just one, as not exactly cheap for some of the party) at the world famous La Mamounia luxury hotel which very much lives up to the stories, and I can tell why Churchill loved it. We sat out in the gardens, in the Le Churchill bar, and the drinks were fabulous. The hotel is a stunning place, I had a little walk around, and kept coming across places which had me happy snapping and leaving me in architectural awe, with its use of modern moorish decoration. I would so stay there next time I go to Marrakech (might have to save up though).
On our last night we went out for a lovely birthday dinner celebration at Dar Yarcout. We started with cocktails and live music on the rooftop. Then went down to the lovely courtyard for a banquet dinner. We had traditional moroccan food, with lot of veggies salad to start, and then couscous with veggie and a flaky pastry for desert with my favourite fresh mint tea. It was great evening, as having lots of laughs with friends new and old, which was only added to by the great location, atmosphere, live music and lovely food. I would highly recommend for a special night out whilst visit Marrakech.
I loved exploring Marrakech on this holiday, I also know there is a lot of Marrakech and definitely of Morocco that I have yet to explore. It is a unique city, and I know isn’t for everyone, is very much a developing country/city and is very poor in places which is a stark contrast to the luxury hotels with the country ever blossoming tourism, but it is a city full of personality. I would definitely like to visit again, and explore more.