I fell hard for Marrakech when I visited in 2015. The former imperial city in Western Morocco also goes by the moniker the Red City due to the ruddy colored buildings in the densely inhabited medina. Chaotic, colorful and intoxicating, it’s no wonder so many designers and creatives are inspired by the city. I put together this video guide including the best places to eat, stay and sightsee in Marrakech. You can read my recommendations below.
This Design Hotels property is a serene about a 30 minute walk from the city’s main square Jemaa el-Fna. It has good size rooms, a beautiful courtyard with a small swimming pool and a roof terrace. If you stay here, while I’d say it’s safe to walk back during the day, do not attempt the windy, maze of streets at night. Simply take a taxi.
Owned by the sister of Sir Richard Branson, this Moroccan fantasy land is gorgeous and in a central location. It has a wonderful rooftop where you can sip a mojito while watching the sunset. There’s also a small spa and a swimming pool.
A 30 minute drove from Marrakech, this artsy retreat has a cooking school, happening bar and a stunning pool with views of the Atlas Mountains.
Travelproper tip: As you’re leaving your hotel, if someone standing outside tells you they work there and are just getting off shift, don’t believe them. Be polite, but try to disentangle yourself from the conversation quickly. They will most likely end up trying to sell you something or get you to go to an event, restaurant or who-knows-what that they are being paid to promote.
There’s no better place to experience the thumping pulse of the city. It comes alive as the sun is setting with musicians, snake charmers and excellent food vendors. For the best view, head to the rooftop café Le Grand Balcon du Café Glacier. To gain admission, you just have to purchase a non alcoholic beverage (alcohol isn’t served). It’s well worth it for the wonderful photos you can snap as the sun is setting. Afterwards, head down to the square to sample local specialties like snails in a spicy broth and flame-grilled merguez sausage. Stall 32 (Chez Hassam) is one of the best vendors on the square.
French painter Jacques Majorelle created this oasis in the city filled with manicured grounds, fountains and reflecting pools over a period of 40 years. Following his death, the stunning property became the vacation home of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé. Today, visitors can stroll through the grounds featuring exotic plants and visit the small museum dedicated to Berber culture.
Across the street from Majorelle Gardens, pop into this concept store selling locally made clothing and home furnishings.
While in Marrakech, reserve a day for shopping in the souks. There are stalls and stalls of slippers, leather bags, silver jewelry and spices and expect to haggle to get a good price. Souk Cherifia is worth seeking out because it has shops selling designer locally made clothing, shoes and handbags.
Souk des Tapis
To see the beautiful Berber carpets handmade by local women head to the carpet market Souk des Tapis. Beware, the vendors can be aggressive and purchasing a carpet is a process that involves viewing dozens of carpets, haggling on price and finally sealing the deal over mint tea.
If you have time, check out this surf town about a two and half hour drive directly west of Marrakech. You can go horseback or camel riding on the beach and eat incredibly fresh seafood. At the market stalls near the port you select your fish and they grill it right in front of you.
This rooftop restaurant in the spice market is perfect for a late dinner of Moroccan cuisine using only fresh, local ingredients.
European and Moroccan specialties are served in a gorgeous jewel-toned space decorated with Berber carpets and a skylight.
Kechmara is a good lunch spot in Guéliz, a newer part of the city that began when Morocco was a French protectorate. The French-owned restaurant and art gallery serves salads and burgers. Afterwards, you can peruse the shops and art galleries on Rue de la Liberté and Rue des Vieux Marrakech.
Also in Guéliz, this restaurant is run entirely by women. Everything is delicious but the fall off-the-bone tender lamb shoulder for two with a sauce of sweet slow-cooked onions and almonds is a must order.
On the rooftop of Souk Cherifia you’ll find this restaurant, a great place to stop for a healthy lunch of Moroccan salads and tagines.
This romantic restaurant is also a boutique hotel. Tables surround a beautiful pool and garden and the beef tagine with onions and sundried tomatoes is delicious.
In the hipster Kasbah neighborhood, Café Clock is a good choice for breakfast. It serves a variety of egg dishes, mint lemonade and a delicious date and banana milkshake.
Located in the historic La Mamounia hotel, this elegant bar named for famed guest Winston Churchill is a good way to experience the storied property without shelling out big bucks for an overnight stay. The Churchill Bar has faux leopard skin carpets and padded red leather walls and is a good place to grab a classic cocktail like an old fashioned or dirty martini. Elegant dress is required.
This Art Deco bar and restaurant spread over three levels is ideal for a nightcap.
Family friendly? This depends on your comfort level. I would describe Marrakech as being a good place for confident, seasoned travelers. The pace, the windy streets and the scammers you’re likely to encounter outside the confines of a luxury resort can be intimidating. I believe older children who will listen and stick with you would be fine, but I would leave toddlers and young children at home unless you plan to stay in a resort.
Have you been to Marrakech? Do you think it is a family friendly destination? Let me know in the comments below.