In September 2014, I visited Marrakech for the first time. We chose there because it has always looked so exotic and so different to anywhere we had been before. Plus the flight time is not too long and warm weather is pretty much guaranteed. It’s a holiday I always look back on fondly because it was so memorable – I can still feel the heat, hear the call to prayer and smell lamb sizzling as I walk by a street café.
There are many hotels to choose from but we decided to stay at a riad which is a large Moroccan traditional house built around a central courtyard. It may not be for everyone because they are quite intimate spaces and may not have all the facilities and services of a normal hotel. However, if you are looking for beautiful architecture and interior design and want to experience something a little bit different, then a riad may just be for you.
We stayed at a riad called Dar Sbihi which is located to the north of the Medina. Every morning we were served a traditional Moroccan breakfast (pastries, mint tea) on the rooftop terrace and then, after walking the bustling streets of Marrakech each day, it was like returning home to an oasis of calm and tranquillity. From the outside, it did not look like very much but once we went through the heavy door and down the steps, we found ourselves in a beautiful courtyard filled with an abundance of plants, a tiled fountain in the centre and lovebirds singing in a cage.
During our time in Marrakech we visited:-
- the Souk
- the main square in the Medina called Jemaa el-Fnaa (an experience not to be missed especially at night)
- the Majorelle gardens,
- the Atlas Mountains and
- Ben Youssef Madrasa – a historical religious school which is well worth a visit.
We also spent some time in the new town area of Marrakech (called Gueliz) – much more European in nature with many recognisable brand names but also some independent shops that are worth popping in to for some souvenir shopping. I particularly liked the shops in Rue de la Liberte . Gueliz has also a good selection of restaurants to choose from and we spent a lovely afternoon sipping coffee and taking refuge from the sun at Cafe Les Negociants
Here are just a few pics from our time in the red city….
From the top left a) local herbs and tea for sale at a pharmacy b) the Majorelle gardens c) the lovebirds at Dar Sbihi d) the fountain at Dar Sbihi e) a local pottery we stopped by on our way to the Atlas mountains f) the streets of Marrakech g) Moroccan tiles h) camels having a rest i) lanterns for sale in the souk