Marrakech has always intrigued me. I’ve never really been one for bucket-and-spade holidays or searching endless gift shops for postcards. My idea of the perfect holiday is somewhere hot where I can relax by the pool but also go out and explore, immersing myself in the culture.
Mint tea and Moroccan pancakes greeted us each morning, along with the hotel’s animation team reminding us that we might have accidently agreed the night before to join in with yoga at 10am, water polo at 11am, and whatever else they could think of. My friend and I stayed at Le Sangho Privilege on the outskirts of the city, which although may have been overwhelmingly packed with families during the peak season, was the perfect hotel for us with peaceful sunbathing spots around the pool, authentic Moroccan décor, and extremely friendly staff who always wanted to help us make the most out of our week in their beautiful city.
After lazing around on the sunbeds on our first day we both agreed how we almost felt ‘lost’ just being in the hotel. Not used to setting up camp in one place for very long after an exciting inter-rail trip the previous summer, we were ready to go out and explore.
Luckily we were able to fit in numerous trips, but if you were to only be in the city of Marrakech for a day you cannot leave without visiting, and most probably getting lost in, the Medina.
Jemaa El Fnaa is the main square in the old town and I soon realised why it is said that there is nowhere else in the world like it. At first it can certainly be described as overwhelming, but as soon as we relaxed and gained the confidence to be firm with the unwanted attention, we rarely felt unsafe and were able fully appreciate just how much of a wonderful experience it was.
Getting lost in the souks and haggling with every shop owner in sight was tiring work. Before our trip we had read about a cute café by the square and decided to head there for lunch.
The henna art café is a hidden gem serving up delicious light meals with a lovely rooftop courtyard away from the hustle and bustle of the Jemaa El Fnaa square. What I loved most about our experience here was how welcomed we were made to feel, and the lovely touch of being able to look through endless pages of beautiful henna with a henna artist coming round to each person’s table to perfect their chosen design.
With only a few days remaining, one of the things we wanted to do whilst in Morocco was ride a camel through the dessert. We found a tour online which we booked whilst in the hotel, as it seemed to cover exactly what we were looking for and had the advantage of being organised by a company with lots of great reviews.
Upon arriving at the camp in the middle of the dessert, we were led over to the camels and were soon on our way. We spent almost 2 hours trekking through the beautifully hot dessert before arriving at a tradition Berber village and being greeted by a family offering mint tea and pancakes – one of my favourite things about Morocco!
Spending a week in Marrakech was the perfect holiday to be able to relax and also immerse yourself in the culture of this beautiful city. The main thing that stands out to me from the trip were that amongst the hustle and bustle of the every-day Moroccan people around the Medina, Marrakech is one of the most peaceful and welcoming places I have ever experienced. From this, I would suggest for everyone to take a trip to this extraordinary gem in the Northern region of Africa.
Where to stay
In Marrakech you can choose between a hotel, or a more traditional riad. We chose a hotel as two young girls we felt a lot safer in this environment surrounded by lots of people, but we met an older couple on the way to the airport who had stayed at a smaller riad and said they had had the most wonderful experience, describing it as like staying at someone’s home and being treated like royalty.
Our hotel (highly recommended!): Le Sangho
When to go
Marrakech is a true ‘year-round’ destination. Whilst many choose to visit in spring and autumn when the temperatures are perhaps more manageable, I found that visiting in July was perfect. As for visiting during Ramadan, apart from the bars shutting early and the hotels being quieter than usual, as a tourist you hardly even notice. I felt that being there when the streets came alive upon sunset only added to the experience.
Things to do
- Get lost in the medina, even though you’re convinced you know the way back to Jemaa el Fna
- Go shopping in the souks, and haggle hard!
- Visit a tradition Berber village and stop off for pancakes with melted honey and butter syrup
- Stop off for lunch and get a henna tattoo at the Henna Art Cafe
- Explore the beautiful Jardin Majorelle
- Never turn down a Moroccan mint tea
- Venture out and take a day trip to the Atlas Mountains
- Get scrubbed down at a hammam
Although it is best to have pre-booked transfers from the airport to where you’re staying, we found that getting a taxi everywhere else was the best option, and really cheap too. Just make sure you’ve got your seatbelt on! Me and my friend held hands the whole way in the taxi the first time we left the hotel because the driving can be a little bit scary to say the least! Our hotel called our first taxi for us, and then we ended up taking the driver’s number and calling him whenever we needed to get anywhere as he was so friendly and reliable!
What to wear
Around the hotel you’ll want to be in a bikini all day as it’s always hot! When you’re out and about you should respect the culture and cover up in light clothes as much as possible. Although you do see some locals in shorts, I always liked to wear something longer and cover my shoulders with a scarf too.
Being a young blonde girl, I’m always very conscious of safety when traveling. Although I had heard stories about Morocco and had my reservations at first I felt completely comfortable once I was there and realised that as long as you keep your wits about you, be firm with the few shop owners and street performers who are too pushy, and always think about what you’re doing, especially getting taxi’s back to the hotel, you’ll be perfectly fine. We left the hotel once at night time to go out with some people we’d met who worked at the hotel, but if we weren’t with them I’m not sure I would have liked being out at night alone.
I hope you all get a chance to visit Marrakech, it really is amazing!
Love Emily x