Arriving in Marrakech we were greeted by blue sky and some November sunshine, just what was needed after a 6am flight from Stansted with Ryanair. After a hair-raising drive through the city, we arrived at our accommodation, Palais el Mira, a small riad on the outskirts of the city. An oasis of calm and tranquillity; just what would be needed after a day sightseeing in the hustle and bustle of Marrakech.
Riads are traditional Moroccan houses, designed around an interior courtyard. Although riads tend to be small, ours only had 10 rooms; the facilities offered were all you could ask for. A good sized swimming pool, plenty of sun-loungers, and a spa offering a selection of treatments; and although we had booked on a bed & breakfast basis, we had our evening meals here too. Our room was spacious and even had its own private terrace.
After a wonderful breakfast of pancakes, pastries, cakes, fruit and some freshly squeezed orange juice, we took the hotel’s shuttle bus into the city to begin exploring. First up were the souks, an experience not for the faint hearted. Wherever you walked, there would be stall holders trying to get you to come and have a look at their wares. Very few items had price tags, bartering is the way of life here. Walking deeper into the souks, it soon became clear we had lost our way, no signposts showing the way to an exit. After about half an hour we were very grateful to finally see some day light, leading us to our way out.
We decided to take a caleche (horse drawn carriage), to take us around the city, again a little bit of haggling was required to get a reasonable price. We left the main square, Jemma el Fna and passed by the Koutoubia Mosque and from here we headed into the New Town and along the outskirts of the city walls. Going back through the city gates, you could definitely tell we had entered the old town again. Narrow roads, stalls selling a selection of spices, fruit & veg and street food lined the way as we headed back to the Jemma el Fna.
Arriving back at Jemma el Fna, the famous night market was beginning to come to life. Again more stalls were starting to pop up, as were the famous snake charmers, monkey handlers & henna tattoo artists. You needed to have eyes and ears everywhere, not just because there was so much to take in but for safety, as this area, especially after the sun sets, is a haven for pick-pocketers.
We also visited the Majorelle Jardins, one of the most visited sights in Marrakech, home to an array of cacti and other exotic plants & trees. Also, a memorial to Yves Saint Laurent can be found here, after he bought the gardens in the 1980s. Although crowded with tourists, it somehow still manages to have an air of peacefulness about it.
We had been invited to visit the Royal Palm Marrakech, a Beachcomber property, while we were in Marrakech for a tour of the hotel and for lunch. Having previously visited their hotels in Mauritius, this hotel certainly lived up to expectations. If you’re looking for a luxury getaway, this is definitely the place for you; the spacious rooms are tastefully decorated and furnished to the highest standard. They also have stunning views over the golf course and the Atlas Mountains and the food is amazing too.
I enjoyed my time in Marrakech; a great city break destination but also great for relaxing and unwinding too.
Marrakech really has to be seen to be believed.