Marrakech is a wonderful city but mad and you'll want to wind down and there's no better place than here. Have a hammam and then follow it up with a massage all for under £30! Such beautiful relaxing surroundings. I didn't want to leave.
Riad Mehdi, 2 Derb Sedra, Bab Agnaou.
5 minute walk from main square, ask hotel to book it for you.
This is a wonderful place to stay, an absolute hidden gem. Ok, there's no pool but the service is so attentive and there's a lovely roof terrace to have the most amazing breakfast.
34 Derb l'Hotel, Bab Doukala
Buy an ACCURATE city map from Librairie DSM, which should set you back around 45dh (£3). The one from the tourist office is free, but very poor. Or ask a taxi driver for the district you require - and always insist on the meter (tho' if they refuse to set it, you only have to pay the minimum fare of 7dh, no matter how far they drive).
219 Blvd. Mohammed V
For the best shopping, head for the Marif district (for reasonably priced, local stuff) or Boulevard D'Anfa for all the up-market European designer shops (with prices to match, European prices with no discounts!).
For either of these places just jump into a (red) petit taxi and ask, neither is more than the minimum fare (7dh) from the centre.
Les Premices is a great, cheap restaurant with an excellent location over looking the Djema el fna square. It has excellent service, food, and cocktails, and is the perfect place to watch the square come alive.
Overlooking the Djema el fna.
Buffet-style restaurant serving range of traditional Moroccan dishes. High quality, excellent choice, elegant dining room. In the evenings, you pay £10 and get a 3-course buffet meal, with as many repeat tastings as you like. Excellent for those that want to try a range of Moroccan foods.
In front of the Koutoubia, opposite the Place de Foucault.
Shopping in the souks is an experience that no one ever forgets. But it is a shopping experience quite unlike any other. In order to get the best from the souks, haggling and shopping around is a must as the sellers significantly inflate their initial price for an item you want. There are no hard and fast rules just walk away from a price you are not happy with, but at the same time keep a smile on your face! Remember no trader will ever sell at a loss! Also take a compass to find your way out again - it is so easy to get lost!
Just off the Djamma el Fna
A super-stylish converted riad hotel down a quiet alley (but not far from the seafront) in Essaouira. Think World of Interiors or Elle Decor cover shots. It's also got a great roof terrace and rooms are spacious and not overpriced, though the rates do seem to be on the rise since I stayed in summer 2005.
2, rue Souss - Médina
Tel. 00212 24 47 53 46
Fax. 00212 24 47 53 48
Clean, comfortable, cheap and quick way to the coast, especially if travelling alone or in small group. 3 coaches a day leave from next to Marrakech railway stationn. Book at least an hourr before to ensure a seat. It was 65 dh (4 quid) one way at end of 2006. Takes 2.5 - 3 hours.
This government-run craft shop has a wide range of souvenirs available at fixed prices. Whilst they may be a bit more expensive than the souks, at least no haggling is needed and the quality is good.
Ensemble Artisanal, Avenue Mohammed V, not far from the Koutoubia Mosque.
Get a grand taxi to these amazing waterfalls, about 2 hours drive from Marrakech. The most impressive waterfalls in Morocco, they are a welcome break from the madness of the souk. An added bonus are the mischievous barbary apes in the surrounding countryside.
Ask any petit taxi driver to take you to the grand taxi depot for cascads d'ouzoud. Grand taxis only leave when filled (6 people, 4 in the back and 2 in the front passenger seat!). However, if you're willing to pay the cost of six people, you can leave right away.
Escape the madness of the medina by staying at one of the more relaxing hotels in the new town. The Golden Tulip Farah hotel is a four star hotel with a pool and comfortable rooms and it’s only about a 10 minute walk to the medina. We managed to get a double room for about £50 in December.
Golden Tulip Farah Marrakech, Avenue du Président Kennedy, Marrakech
The botanical garden is absolutely mesmerising, as you stroll along the walkways you pass several plants and trees that are waiting to be photographed. In the middle of the garden is a fantastic ornate cobalt blue building. Also housed inside the garden is the Islamic Art Museum. But don't forget to take around 15 Dhirams with you for the entrance fee, you'll also notice that the hustle and bustle of the city suddenly disappears.
Jardin Majorelle Marrakech Maroc
Tel : (00212) 044 30 18 52
The best vantage point to sit and watch the world go by! It's directly on the Djemaa el Fna, with several tiers of balcony, depending on your desired viewpoint. A great place to sit in the sun in the morning with a cafe latte and write your postcards, an even better place to pitch yourself around an hour before sunset and watch as the square springs to life for the evening's activities and soak up the atmosphere. If you're a woman travelling alone it's one of the (sadly) few places to sit and enjoy where you'll feel relaxed and unhassled. Prices are reasonable, the food is pretty good and you won't feel rushed to leave. Be warned though, - get there early! It gets busy and in the evening you can only have a 'front row' seat on the balcony if you are eating.
Also, if you're in Marrakech for more than a few days, escape to the coast to Essaouira. It's a few hours drive away but well worth it, fabulously laid back, with a European hippyish feel to it, this is the place to chill with a beer and watch the sunset over the Atlantic.
Restaurant Argana - on the Djemaa el fna, Marrakech
The Bahia Palace is beautiful. So is Riad Tamsna, the food has always been fabulous when I have been there, but reports are varied: you can always have mint tea on the roof terrace (or a mohito if you need some alcohol in the medina).
A trip to the Ourika Valley is also a must.
Don’t worry about getting lost in the souk: the bigger paths may lead you to somewhere recognisable or more interesting than you had planned – there is no point taking a map, just ask someone. People are very happy to help and the area is very safe.
If you do want a map, the Rough Guide to Marrakech is by far the best around.
Don’t hurry or worry, expect the culture shock and accept the offers of mint tea sans sugar.
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