Ahh Marrakech. When I left in June, after a whirlwind two days with Gala and Shauna, I knew that one day I’d be back. I just didn’t realise it would be QUITE so soon. But when my sister Rachel and I were discussing her wedding décor plans recently, a quick trip over to the rainbow lined streets of the former imperial city to buy things for the wedding seemed like a perfectly logical way to spend a long weekend.
We lucked out with our timing too. November is the off-season so it wasn’t as busy as it was over the summer but it was still a more than acceptable 20-30°C every day. The perfect antidote the 0 degree weather back home!
If you’re just planning to spend time in the city itself, a four night trip is ample time, making it the ideal location for a quick and/or inexpensive honeymoon. Our flights (through British Airways) were £120 each and our Riad cost us just £60 a night. We arrived Thursday evening and left Monday afternoon and we had more than enough time to see and do everything we wanted, including having the occasional lie-in! If you want to do day trips or explore out in the desert or Atlas Mountains then you might want to add a few more days to your trip.
A short three and a half hour flight from the UK, Morocco couldn’t be more different from the English way of life. It can be quite a culture shock so although I’ve written about Marrakech before, I thought another cheeky blog post would be more than worthwhile. Here are my top tips for getting the most out of this amazing city, plus a few things that definitely should be avoided!
La Mamounia is a five star hotel about 10 minutes’ walk from the Jemaa el Fna, the main square. While there’s no way we could have afforded to stay there, we knew we had to pop by for a drink and a nosey at the palatial surroundings. Shorts, trainers, flip flops and jeans are all banned, and they took our shopping bags off us before we were allowed in (I guess plastic bags bring down the ambiance of the place!?) The drinks were obviously expensive (but have the Lavender Fizz, its divine), yet they were well worth the cost to see how the other half live.
We actually stayed at Riad Mur Akush, which was pretty yet inexpensive. It’s certainly not the most amazing place I’ve ever stayed, but for the price you really can’t go wrong. The staff were friendly and attentive, the bed was comfy and the shower was hot. However the best thing about our Riad was that it was just three streets down from the most fantastic hotel, La Maison Arabe. They served really delicious cocktails (which were around half the price of the ones at La Mamounia) and they came complete with the most entertaining barman ever who put flowers in our hair and regaled us with tales of the hotel’s history. We decided to eat there one night too, and although it was one of the more expensive meals we had, the setting was breath-taking. We were sat right by a courtyard pool, and there was a live band playing traditional Moroccan music all night long.
The Henna Café is a calming oasis in the crazy busy Medina and 100% worth a visit. Co-owned by Lori (from America) and Rachid (a native Moroccan) the place serves delicious teas and authentic light snacks, plays Eric Clapton on a loop, has a roof terrace and a resident tortoise! The café also supports the local community and charities with its profits.
The Henna Café is a complete oestrogen-fest, almost exclusively female tourists, and I could have stayed there all day. If you want to get some henna done there can be a bit of a wait (I think we waited around 30 minutes but you can book in advance) but it was so worth it. Their artists are all highly skilled local women (none of whom speak English but there are translators on hand) and are fantastic at what they do. It was also, very surprisingly, cheaper than the henna being offered in the main square (more about that later!)
Tattoos cost from just 50 DH (around £3) for small designs and go up to 500 DH (around £30) for larger more intricate ones. Rachel and I both got ones done that were just 150 DH (£10) each. I am obsessed with them both and it’s really made me want to get my sleeve extended all the way down to my wrist… eek!