Travel Tips: How to be a local in Marrakech
The charming Marrakech with its chaotic streets and multiple beautifully decorated Riads, its spicy smells and delicious cuisine, is the perfect 4 days break you need from the city. It’s not hard to imagine why Yves Saint Laurent made this city his second home in 1966 along with his partner Pierre Bergé, as of one thing I am sure, Marrakech IS inspiring. Whether it be the light, the peaceful sounds you hear in the gardens, the colourful tiles, the prayers you hear in the background; every single angle of this city gives you something new and exciting.
Small cosy Riad hidden inside the Medina. Quiet, clean with amazing staff. The rooftop is wonderful, loved to spend the evenings sipping wine with friends will enjoying the peace and the warm breeze.
Wonderful hotel hidden too within the medina. Every angle of this hotel is a snap for your Instagram. The restaurant is really good, service is impeccable and the whole interior design is just delightful in full Moroccan style.
Open until late, this is a nice and cosy cafe to enjoy good food with some wine! It's quite rare to find restaurants in Marrakech that actually serve alcohol, so if you are looking for that white glass to go along your fish plate, then this is your to go place.
If you are looking for a fun night, with good food and belly dancers, this is your place. The décor is very typical to Morocco, with lots of red diffused lights and a cute backyard garden with candles and swings. We went here to celebrate my best friend’s birthday, and it was the right place to do so and to force her to share her booty along with the dancers.
Modern Moroccan cuisine rooftop restaurant located in a corner of the Spice Square within the medina. The restaurant serves delicious modern dishes and is perfect both for lunch and dinner.
From the same of Nomad, this is a very nice local café perfect for a quick sandwich whilst wandering across the medina. Always facing the Spice Square, I recommend this place for the Chicken sandwich.
We went there for lunch and went for the fixed menu. They served us a mix of delicious salads on the rooftop that overlooked the medina. The place is very peaceful and relaxing for both groups or couples.
Perfect spot for lunchtime, situates in a lovely, rural, and charming Mediterranean garden. It’s quite hard to find as the entrance looks like every other door in the Medina, but don’t lose faith, locals are there to help you. The food is only vegetarian, but it never tasted so good!
Voted by the CNN as the best roof top in Marrakech, I must admit that the restaurant is a lovely spot for a candle light dinner. Food is especially good and offers some delicious tagine served directly inside the Terracotta Pot that is used to cook it.
Palais Jad Mahal
Not the most local place you will find in Marrakech, if not at all, but it's a fun place to go for drinks and to see performances. I must admit though that the entrance and drinks are quite expensive.
Obviously you have to go to the Souks – they are chaotic, people will shout at you all the time to visit their store, motorbikes will fly past you inches from your feet, but it’s all worth the experience. It’s important to note that the Souk might look like one big market, but it’s divided into batches based on what they sell.
There are 4 main souks:
1. Spice Souk – if you are looking for local spices to take back home to spice up your meals
2. Pottery Souk – if you are looking for typical Moroccan plates and ash trays.
3. Basket/Slipper Souk - if you want to buy one of the typical basket bags that they sell here, they have baskets in every size pointy leather slippers
4. Scents/Oils Souk - Morocco is famous for the production of Argan oil, so you must buy a bottle of locally made oil from here.
Tips for when you enter the Souks are:
1. Just embrace the Chaos and stay away from the snakes in Djemaa- El- Fnaa
2. Just say No whenever they offer you free stuff and want to give you directions
3. Always dress appropriately and be mindful of their culture/religion (avoid wearing shorts and low neck t-shirts)
4. Get lost
5. Bargain everything that you want to buy. Rest reassured that the price that the sellers initially scream at you is NOT what you should be paying for it, AND in some cases they might also get offended if you do not bargain the price. Yes, hilarious. Wish YSL did the same in their stores.
Ben Youssef Madrasa
YSL Museum / Jardin Majorelle
Jardin Majorelle became the second home of YSL in 1966, charmed by the city and this abandoned garden, Marrakech became a very big source of inspiration for the designer. If you visit the museum you can clearly see the transformation of his designs prior and post Marrakech.
The Jardin Majorelle were designed and brought to life by Jacques Majorelle in 1931, who was a famous French painter at the time. The more the artist travelled, the more he enjoyed gardening; he began to bring plants from around the world and to communicate internationally with people who shared his passion for botany. He acquired hundreds of rare varieties of trees and plants. In 1937 he transformed his garden into an even more fascinating work of art by painting the facade of his studio hidden in the middle of the garden along with all of the gates and pots with bold primary colours, one of which would later be known as “Majorelle blue”, an ultramarine, cobalt blue, “evoking Africa”. Strong, deep, intense, it accentuates the green of the leaves and makes them sing (Source: Jardinmajorelle.com)
The garden was then abandoned in 1947, until YSL decided to acquire the land and premises and renovate it. Bad luck that I wasn’t there to swift it off before YSL did!