When a girlfriend and I decided to have a mini break, Marrakesh seemed like the perfect option. Less than a four-hour flight, same time zone, not too expensive and with a culture far away from ours – it was just what the doctor ordered! Have a read below to see how we spent our time…
72 hours in any city can be tricky. It’s difficult to balance feeling the pressure of experiencing as much as you can with also feeling like you’ve had a relaxing holiday. So, I must be honest and say I spent at least 3 hours a day completely horizontal on a sun lounger or in our lovely pool. As the temperature averaged between 35 and 40 degrees, a pool was an essential and a most welcome necessity.
The Medina at sunset.
The Medina is the Old City of Marrakech, full of the windiest of streets and the most beautiful of Riads. The Medina is also home to the souks and markets. We spent hours shopping and bartering, bartering and shopping as the sun set. We saw the most gorgeous lanterns and pots, intricate hand-made leather bags, belts that were studded with crystals and cushions and homeware that were the most amazing colours. Strange smells were everywhere, some nice and some not so nice! Mint, fruit, olives and yummy foods were piled high for all to try and buy. As it got darker, Djemaa el-Fna (the main square) came to life. Lanterns and fires were lit while entertainers and story tellers began their magic. Although it is the definition of hustle and bustle, the Medina has to be high on your list to get a true sense of Morocco.
Spend a minimum of a few hours here to ensure you see everything and enjoy some yummy food!
Morning – spent by the pool of course!
Highlights of the afternoon and evening.
Le Jardin Majorelle – It used to be the playground and summer retreat for Yves Saint Laurent and has to be one of the most spectacular, walled gardens I’ve ever seen. Dark blue walls and intricate gold metal work makes the house look spectacular and you can just imagine a posse of socialites relaxing glamorously in the gardens. Visit here to see the museum, Yves Saint Laurnet’s memorial, a beautiful walled garden with the most amazing plants and Cacti while experiencing a little break from the fray. My friend and I visited an hour before closing which was perfect as it wasn’t too hot or too busy.
Spend 1-2 hours here to enjoy the garden in it’s entirety.
El Fenn- After le jardin we made our way to El Fenn and got lost, majorly lost. Our taxi driver dropped us off approximately 100 metres away from the restaurant but we walked straight past it! After a lot of google maps and help from some friendly locals, we finally found the beautiful door that was discreetly signposted El Fenn tucked down a little side alley.
El Fenn was amazing. Simply amazing. Owned by Vanessa Branson (Richard Branson’s sister) this hotel screams old-fashioned glamour. Although traditional and a host to an amazing amount of Moroccan art, this hotel distinctly has the air of a party pad. While there, we witnessed the most gorgeous dinner party that had the birthday boy at the head of the table wearing a gold crown – I reallyyyyy wanted to ask if I could join. Although we didnt stay here we had a thorough nosy at the riad and I was beyond impressed that it hosted 3 pools, a little library, spa, yoga deck and BAR (everything I look for in a holiday!)
After our look around, we ordered a cocktail (Mojito for me and a Sea Breeze for my friend) and although strong, my first taste of alcohol in Marrakech was amazing. You can take the girl out of Ireland, but you can’t take blah blah blah….
We ended the night by lounging on the rooftop terrace beds and enjoying a truly yummy meal while experiencing sunset above the city. The lanterns were lit and it truly felt that you were somewhere extremley special.
10/10 – Spend as much time as you can here. If you don’t stay, ensure you come for dinner and drinks!
Morning – We had an early start and we’re picked up to go Camel riding or Dromedary riding to be exact. Although most of us (myself include) think a camel is a camel, we soon learnt that our one humped friend was in fact a dromedary. After a 40-minute ride, we settled down to some Moroccan mint tea. A perfect and fun experience for all ages!
Spend – No more than an hour and a half, even after 40 minutes I was a little saddle sore!
Midday break – You guessed it, we were beside the pool.
Evening – As we had an 4 am flight and it was our last night, we decided to be sensible and go for an early dinner and drinks. Pepe Nero was our choice. Pepe Nero is now a hotel which was also a beautiful Riad (a Riad is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard), this hotel has an amazing Italian and Morrocan menu. Risotto with a couple of glasses of wine was the perfect end to our trip. Pepe Nero was an amazing place for female travellers, as a host was awaiting us when we exited our taxi which eliminated any unwanted attention!
We returned to our hotel full and happy, ready for our last sleep under the Morrocan Moon.
What we learnt…
- Ladies – be cautious at times. As much as I loved the company of my lovely friend, there was many a time when I wished I had a male companion with me. Boyfriend, brother, dad, literally any man! The attention from some local men was intense at times and didn’t seem to matter how covered up we were. Don’t look nervous, walk with intention and if you feel uncomfortable, leave.
- Maps – there is no chance of not getting lost. Download them in advance – from departure to arrival! The medina and it’s gorgeous little alleys and winding roads are charming but somewhat labyrinthine. Don’t do a Jasmine, research exactly where you want to go, get super excited and then set off without any idea of how to get there! £50 later after 5 minutes of data roaming (I’m not bloody joking) and we’d found El Fenn, we still required the help of a local guy though. Our guide requested a tip and in my mind, he’d earned it!
- Barter, barter and barter some more! A little French helps! Especially when it comes to les négociations. We read in a guide that you should never pay more than 40 MAD (apart from at night-time) so I was glad of my pigeon French where I could sternly say Trente or C’est trop cher when faced with a cheeky taxi driver or business owner.
- Spend some cool time – Whether at a riad or relaxing by the pool. It’s important to have some time to cool down. Marrakech is an amazing mix of traditional and as it’s a trendy city on the rise, you can easily find some chill time. Life seems hectic from the traffic to the busy medina – you will need a little time to decompress and experience the city in a different way.
Hope you enjoyed this blog. As always – please like, share and comment.