Travel - Magical Marrakech

January 06, 2015

I'm going back to May 2010 with this post, that was almost five years ago already. How time flies. We may have aged a bit in that time but I believe Marrakech hasn't much so this post is still relevant if you're thinking of planning a trip there. We booked a long weekend to the magical city in Morocco and flew with Easyjet, I think it's about a four hour flight and is always warm and sunny. I don't think I'd want to go any later than May, it was scorching when we visited and can get quite smelly so probably best to avoid the height of the summer. 

There are large luxury resorts on the outskirts of the city but we wanted the authentic experience within the Medina {the old walled city} so booked a stay in a Riad. Riads are traditional Moroccan houses built around a courtyard, most are super luxurious with beautiful interior details, some have pools. In such a bustling city, they're an oasis of calm. From the outside all you see is a doorway and you can't imagine the beauty that lies behind them. We stayed at Riad Assakina after reading reviews on Tripadvisor and the like and we couldn't fault it. Run by expats who restored this old crumbling building into something beautiful. It was a few years back now but I remember the staff couldn't have been nicer and the breakfasts were super yummy. It was about a five minute walk to the main medina square through the alleyways and via the souks. 

I think the sun nearly always shines in Marrakech? We had pure blue skies and hot sun the whole time we were there. Most riads are on several levels with the courtyard in the middle, when not out exploring the city we spent a lot of time chilling out on the rooftop lounge. 

You have to be a bit careful about what you wear in Morocco, it's better to cover up. Being a city it has got more liberal over the years but I took a pashmina with me for covering up when needed. You'll get a lot of stares from the red blooded Moroccan men too. 

Our room was gorgeous, I love the Moroccan interiors, stylish patterns, lots of mirrors and silver intricate furniture and lanterns. 

Walking around the city felt like a maze sometimes, it was easy to get lost! After a day or so we started to get our bearings. There are lots of narrow alleyways surrounding the main open square.

The square is fairly empty in the day with the occasional snake charmer {that we stayed clear of!} but comes alive at night with hundreds of food stalls all lit up. It's magical. We had some amazing street food, tagines, couscous etc and ate like kings for less than £3 a night. Crazy money. 

The smells and sights are incredible, stalls full of herbs, spices all towered up, fresh oranges, monkeys and chickens in cages {sad face}, snake charmers, lanterns, bright colours, mirrors, so much to see and buy. 

We loved walking around the souks and could have bought so much. You can haggle with the sellers too and soon work out what's a good price if they don't come chasing after you when you walk away. 

Just walking around the old city was amazing with archways and tropical hibiscus flowers around every corner. Storks sit on top of the city walls making their nests. 

We did start to feel the heat in the afternoons though so tended to go out in the mornings and then relaxed at the riad after lunch...

...Before heading out for dinner each evening. 

Freshly squeezed orange juice was cheaper than water, about 30p! 

Don't be put off by the street stalls setting up every evening in the square, some of the best food you'll ever have. All the stalls are numbered, look for where the locals are eating or where looks popular. 

We booked a trip through our riad one morning up to the Atlas mountains, we were shown around a traditional Berber market in the hills. 

It was nice to escape the city for a morning and see more of traditional Morocco with the berber villages built into the hillsides and farmland. 

We had lunch at a gorgeous villa in the mountains organised by the riad, this pool was heavenly and luckily they'd told us to take our swimsuits for an afternoon of relaxation. Richard Branson's resort was next door. 

Then it was time to head back into the city and another evening wandering around the souks.I can't remember what we bought back home in the end, nothing big as we were worried about getting it on the plane. And there's also the issue of all the gorgeous lanterns and rugs looking amazing in Morocco but a bit out of place by the time you get them back to your own house. We bought little hammered metal bowls to dot around which are nice and a few mirrors we haven't found a home for just yet.

On our last evening we booked in for dinner at Le Foundouk, one of Marrakech's more upmarket restaurants. A bit of a step up from dining at the street food stalls the nights before!

We booked a taxi as it was across the city from where we were staying so couldn't walk there like we had on previous nights. The taxi driver must have called the restaurant as when we arrived in a square nearby, a waiter holding a lantern greeted us to lead us to the restaurant. So magical. 

We had an amazing meal on the rooftop, but the inside of Le Foundouk was rather special too. Definitely worth a splurge {in Marrakech terms compared to our £3 dinners!}. 

On our last day, before flying home, we felt like we'd done enough of the souks. As magical as they are, there's only so much bartering you can do and they can be bustling with motorbikes trying to pass in the narrow passage ways. We spent a lovely morning wandering around the Bahia Palace, three beautiful courtyard gardens. I love the architecture in Morocco and this palace was beautiful with amazing patterns, tropical palms, archways, mirrors, orange trees and brightly coloured tiled floors. So calm too within such a crazy city.

Definitely worth a visit if you're in the city, the YSL gardens are meant to be amazing too.

Then it was time to say goodbye to Marrakech and head to the airport. Such an incredible few days, I don't know what I expected before I went but I came away in awe. I'd definitely love to go back sometime. Have you been? Would you go?

Riad Assakina details here. Just looked on tripadvisor and it's still in the top 10 out of 500 odd hotels in Marrakech. 

R <3 xx 

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  1. Looks like an amazing place - thanks for sharing. I am curious (or nosy, lol), how long have you and Ben been together? x

    1. We've known each other since 2006 but been together properly since 2008 xx

  2. Wow! What a place. It's like a whole different world! So colourful and truly exotic! By the way, you haven't aged a bit! But Ben - he's looks MUCH older now! :)

    1. Haha he still gets id-ed for alcohol sometimes and he's over 30 now! He'll always look young to me xx


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