Listed as Trip Advisor’s Destination of the Year for 2015, Marrakech is an incredible sensory experience, from the warm smell of rich spices to incredible views of dusky red buildings and city walls situated in the shadow of the Atlas Mountains. Here, I spent five days taking in everything the city had to offer, to celebrate my second wedding anniversary with my husband.
We travelled at the end of November, and by then the temperatures had settled at a comfortable 27-30 degrees. This was the perfect weather for exploring the historic city centre but also relaxing at our hotel for ‘lazy days’ by the pool. If you are planning to travel in the summer, I would advise that you pack appropriately as temperatures can easily soar to 38 degrees.
To get to Marrakech, we flew with RyanAir and secured return flights for an incredible £45 each from London Stansted. (Flight time around 3 ½ hours). Look out for their fare alerts to try and get a similar bargain.
We arrived at our hotel, the Eden Andalou Hotel and Spa, and we were immediately in awe of the architecture and décor of the vast entrance lobby. The hotel was split into different sections, or riads, with lush gardens in the centre of each collection of rooms. You could hear birds singing from them in the early hours of the morning, waking you up ready for another day of exploring.
As we checked in, attentive staff poured cups of traditional Moroccan Te De Menta, and offered a selection of local cakes piled high on a silver tiered tray. We then left our luggage in our suite and immediately went to see what else the hotel had to offer and try out the three different pools. When we return again to Marrakech, I won’t hesitate in booking the same hotel again. The service was incredible, the food was delicious and the spa was so serene.
On our second day, we booked a local guide to show us the delights of Marrakech. The heart of the magical city, the Medina, is bustling with excitement and history, and a maze of winding alleyways filled with souks, street food stalls and hidden Riads. If we had been alone, I am certain we would have found ourselves lost within the narrow passages, although that wouldn’t have been a bad thing. We could have stayed in the souks for hours, you could discover a new sight, smell or sound there every minute you walked around.
After bartering (badly) for locally made clothes, hand sewn leather slippers and spices, we made our way to the centre of the Medina and emerged into Jemaa El-Fna, the centre square. The large open heart of the city contains market stalls, snake charmers, henna artists and much more. It is surrounded by cafes and restaurants where you can waste away hours people watching whilst sipping on a spiced coffee.
The city is home to many peaceful and lush gardens, which are perfect to unwind in after a morning in the medina. If you have some time, you can always take a carriage ride around several of the serene gardens to take them all in at once.
In the evening, make sure you sample some authentic Moroccan cooking such as smoky grilled steaks with cous cous, rich tagines with interesting flavor combinations and Zaalouk, a delicious smoky aubergine dip that has a hint of spice.
We are already looking forward to our next Moroccan adventure. It is an enticing country that will always have more undiscovered smells, tastes, souks and sights for us to experience and explore.
Top Tips for Marrakech:
- It is going to be warm, even in the Winter months, so make sure you pack sensibly.
- Bartering is expected in the souks and markets, so don’t instantly pay the asking price. Though our guide let us know that this wasn’t usually the case if buying spices.
- Always keep some change for tips, as a lot of people might expect or ask for them.
- In the centre square, Jemaa El-Ena, keep your distance from the people with monkeys and other wild animals, unless you want to pay for a photo. They might try and put the animal on you and convince you to take a photo if not (it happened to a few people around us who were not expecting a baby monkey to suddenly be on their shoulder!).
- The mosques are closed to non-Muslims.
- It can get really cold in the evenings, so take layers.