City Guide: Marrakech, Morocco

I took my second trip to Marrakech a short, one year after the first…. I couldn’t stay away from this magical city!!! I have a few additions to last years guide and some places you absolutely should not miss! This year, we stayed at La Sultana an absolutely breathtaking property located in the Kasbah neighborhood, only an 8-10 minute walk from the main square of Marrakech, Jemaa el-Fnaa. The room was gorgeous and tiger themed… a huge king bed laid beneath a stunning chandelier, a gigantic tub, beautiful artwork and beautiful wooden double doors which led us to the most stunning tile work on the patio. The service was incredible and meals to die for. Honestly, the property is too gorgeous to put into words so let me just show you a few photos…

We only had 3 days during this trip so it was short and sweet. I wanted to take my travel partner to a lot of my favorite places from the year prior (all below and I still HIGHLY recommend) but we also stumbled upon a few new and noteworthy places. We adored Grand Café de la Poste in the Gueliz neighborhood for a charming place for a drink. It’s a stunning French restaurant with charming music and upscale decor. We sat on an upstairs couch and had a great cocktail! We also went back to Jardin Majorelle and this time we ate in the outdoor cafe on the property. It was located in a beautiful garden area and we sat beneath the orange trees and sharing yet another amazing meal and an incredible banana juice! I’d absolutely sit down here for a snack or meal during your visit to Jardin Majorelle.

At Jardin Majorelle

At Jardin Majorelle

One day, we decided to be serious tourists and take a horse and carriage to our next destination. You see the old style carriages all over the city and it was a beautiful day… we actually had a blast seeing the city from an open aired hose and carriage. It was only about $9 and we had so much fun! If it’s a sunny day, grab one instead of your next taxi and enjoy the air and the view! Our last day, we grabbed a quick bite at Zeitoun Cafe Kasbah right across the street from La Sultana. They have an amazing open air yet covered rooftop which we enjoyed a really nice final lunch at. Honestly, I haven’t found a bad meal or unfriendly face in Marrakech yet! I can’t wait to go back again!

Keep reading to find my Marrakech recap and guide from my first trip there last January! If you have any questions, let me know!

We arrived in Marrakech after dark and checked into our Riad, El Fenn. This Riad was completely different than Riad Fes but equally as epic. Bright colors and amazing photographs lined the walls and pink and yellow velvet couches and candelabras were scattered throughout the sprawling halls. This Riad is known for it’s extensive art collection and is itself, a work of art.

 It was about time for dinner and the reception recommended we go to Le Tobsil for dinner. He said it was right around the corner, a fixed price menu (many of the nicer places are) and very good Moroccan food. Without hesitation, we agreed. 

photo via Pinterest

photo via Pinterest

The vibe and the food at Le Tobsil was undoubtedly amazing. You didn't choose what to eat, the food just came and kept coming..with the wine flowing too. The live Moroccan music was a nice touch. It great was  but we were all a little surprised when the bill came at 650 dirham (about $65) each. It was pricey by Moroccan standards but so lovely. If you're looking for a fine dining option in Marrakech, 100% go here! It was beautiful and delicious. We all agreed though that the meals we had at casual local spots for more like 60 dirham ($6.50) per person were just as good and maybe more fun because we got a taste of real Moroccan life. 

The next day, we had a local guide to tour Marrakech. We walked from El Fenn to explore inside the densely packed, vibrant, walled Medina. We began at the 12th Century Koutoubia Mosque, with it’s beautiful Moorish Minaret , a symbol of the city and visible for miles. From there, we went to the Mellah (the Jewish quarter), and beautiful Bahia Palace. The Mellah of Marrakech is an interesting area that tells a story of Morocco’s past, a country that has been open to those of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds for centuries. The history of this country is fascinating and makes all these sights worth seeing. They are easy to get to on foot.

Afterwards, we made our way to the colorful and chaotic souk . En route, we stopped for fresh squeezed orange juice in Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main square, and marveled at the craziness of this place on our way to the market... People running, motorcycles zooming, monkeys jumping, donkeys ambling, snakes slithering, an old man yanking teeth with no anesthetic (yes, really)... It was like a real life circus. We couldn't handle it for that long and made our way to the souk. You guys, the souk in Marrakech is like my heaven. There's a leather market, brass market, rug market, spice market, textile market, shoe market, food market and the list goes on and on. We spent most of our time looking at rugs because I've always had a Moroccan rug obsession and have purposely waited to buy rugs for my house until I made the trip to Morocco. I also brought some back for you guys to buy, so stay tuned!!! 

From the souk, we drove to The YSL Museum and The Gardens of Majorelle. If you have even a tiny interest in fashion and/or fashion history you must go here while in Marrakech. Even my dad who doesn't care about fashion was absolutely wowed by this museum. The exhibition of YSL’s designs throughout history and even the short movie about his life were enlightening. It was fascinating and I learned so much about Yves Saint Laurent, his life and work. We had lunch at the cafe in the museum which was delishhhhhh. Vegetable and chicken couscous and various Moroccan salads hit the spot. The YSL gardens are right down the street and are pretty incredible. There is also a small Berber museum in the gardens (you can buy one ticket to get access to both museums and the garden) that is definitely worth visiting. The cactus and bamboo in the garden is mind blowing and the gorgeous blue color or the house on site is a great spot for a few photos.

Afterwards, we went back to the souk and spent the rest of the night shopping and exploring. I found some killer goodies to bring back for you guys!!! We ate a light dinner at Cafe De Epices which became our new favorite spot. Local Moroccan food and local people in a charming little cafe right off one of the main squares. The food was delectable and the prices were very good. Dinner for the 4 of us with about 60 rounds of mint tea was 330 dirham or about $33. 

To our surprise, we found or way back to our Riad quite easily and it was time for bed. The following day, we had breakfast at our Riad. They serve breakfast on the roof which is the best way to start the day. Breakfasts there might be my favorite meal. of each day They start by bringing you endless fresh squeezed orange juice, mint tea, always tons of fresh bread, granola, fresh fruit, yogurt and THEN you order. At El Fenn they had shakshuka on the menu, so that's of course what I ordered every morning. 

The following day we spent solely rug shopping outside of Marrakech. It was an absolute blast and completely exhausting! I can't wait to show you guys the amazing pieces we found! I have some exciting updates about this so definitely stay tuned! We had a late lunch with our new friends made by their moms... It was unreal!! I posted a photo that day on Instagram! We were so tired and full that we skipped dinner that night.

The next day, we had another amazing breakfast at El Fenn and headed for our last couple hours in the markets. We decided on NOMAD for lunch which is a must in Marrakech. It's one of the few places with a rooftop view and it's right off one of the main squares. Tthe decor is adorable, the food is amazing and the prices are extremely reasonable. Afterwards, we jumped in the car to head to Essaouira with a quick pit stop to see the ever famous Marrakech hotel, La Mamounia. It's owned by the king, extremely extravagant and definitely worth a pop by when in Marrakech. There's a Dior and Saint Laurent store in the hotel if that gives you any idea...

Marrakech was like a dream. It's such a colorful, lively, exciting place. I absolutely can't wait to go back and visit. Next stop, Essaouira!

xx Ali