My deepest belief is that we are born to explore, the world is so beautiful and our duty is to witness its wonders. Suppose that you could travel to any city around the world and feel like you’re living a little bit more like the locals, which city would you choose? And, why? For me, that city was Marrakech- mysterious, far, and different from the place I grew up. If I visit it, I thought, one part of me would feel fulfilled. I wanted to embrace all things Morocco. I was picturing scenery of the desert and it seemed like a dream to me. A possibility to wonder around souks of Marrakech with the loved one excited me, to stay at perfectly designed Riad with zellige tileworks and simply enjoy the artwork of Marakech’s artisans, to spend days by the pool surrounded by palm trees and cacti… I was describing and imagining the way I want things to be, and after some time it was a reality- Fashionela team was on a three hours flight from Paris to Marrakech.
As soon as we arrived in Marrakech, we set out straightaway to explore the “Red City”. We visited its architectural treasures, including the Koutoubia mosque and Saadian tombs. We stopped in the famous Medina and explored the local customs and handiwork. Our trip soon turned into an educational journey in culture, cuisine, and color; plus launched a serious love affair with Moroccan mint tea. We have visited the best hotels, restaurants and shops, so we could present to you our city guide, Marrakech from our point of view.
WHAT TO SEE?
Entering through a discreet doorway on Rue Yves St Laurent, the Jardin Majorelle is as beautiful as we expected- the endless cacti, tropical plants, and Majorelle blue exteriors. This roughly 2.5-acre botanical garden offers inspiration for every nature- and decor-lover. Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé bought the property in 1980, 18 years after Majorelle‘s death and saved it from falling victim to a real estate project and becoming a hotel complex. The couple nurtured the garden into its current state, opening the nation’s first Berber museum in the process, creating an attraction which draws almost 700,000 visitors a year. It’s a debt the city has repaid by naming the adjacent road after the late fashion designer. Upon his death in 2008, his ashes were scattered at his Moroccan garden.
The Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech
Marrakech is preparing for the big event on October 19th when the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent and Fondation Jardin Majorelle will open the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech. Design of the building was entrusted to the French architectural firm Studio KO, which has carried out numerous projects in Morocco, Europe and the United States. After examining the late designer’s archives in Paris, Studio KO discovered a contrast between curves and straight lines and a multitude of loose and clean cuts. The building’s cubic forms made of bricks fashioned from Moroccan earth by a local supplier create a pattern similar to threads of fabric, while the interiors are luminous and smooth, echoing the lining of a magnificent couture jacket.
Located on rue Yves Saint Laurent, next to Majorelle Garden, the new 4,000 square meter museum will include a permanent exhibition space featuring Yves Saint Laurent’s works, a temporary exhibition hall, an Auditorium, a research library and a café-restaurant.
Located in the Medina quarter, this lively square has been a main destination for locals and tourists since the early foundations of Marrakech. Games, snake charmers, cactus fruit, street food, and henna, along with an array of locals and tourists make up the famous square and is surely not to miss.
WHERE TO STAY?
The story of Marrakech wouldn’t be the same without La Mamounia, palatial hotel that embodies its history, culture, art… While staying here you are invited to experience the most luxurious place with romantic, mysterious and charming flair that once seduced Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé. They first came to Marrakech in 1966 and normally stayed here. After one week they decided to buy a home in the Medina.
Located in the center of Marrakech, La Mamounia is within walking distance of the famous Djemma el-Fna square and is close to the iconic Koutoubia Mosque. Despite its proximity to the Medina, we felt so far away from the busy streets of the Old City thanks to the hotel’s tranquil gardens. Staying here was like a fairy-tale „1001 night“. Oriental interior decoration designed by the French designer Jacques Garcia was so complex and beautiful in execution that we could spend hours analyzing it. You may be familiar with his work if you have visited the Hotel Costes in Paris.
Our executive suite
There are 206 rooms including 71 suites that have a variety of views: Koutoubia Mosque, the gardens or the Atlas Mountains with the higher rooms having the better perspectives. There are also three Riads set amid the gardens, each of which has three bedrooms and three bathrooms, a private swimming pool and 24 hour butler service. Riads provide ample space for families and big parties with 700 m² to accommodate up to 6 guests.
An unconditional love for thoroughbred horses and a desire to fulfill grandfather’s dream- to give its city a place that it deserves. That is the one way to describe the monumental project that Abdeslam Bennani Smires, young Moroccan businessman and national Equestrian champion, accomplished with his Selman hotel, a five-star gem in the touristic capital of Morocco, Marrakech. Extravagant terracotta palace-hotel is set 7km southwest of the Medina in 15 acres of landscaped grounds with gorgeous views across the gardens, the pool and the Atlas Mountains. Selman is so opulent and yet very sophisticated, inspired with Orient and its abundant sensual materials. It has a long main building set behind the 80-meter pool and landscaped Andalusian park over six hectares.
Selman Hotel is designed by Jacques Garcia. The 56 rooms, suites and villas boast a fabulous Moroccan style with a French flair and overall romantic feel. Ornate, black-and-white zellij-pattern tiling is everywhere, on floors, pillars and walls. With a French chef in the restaurant and a 1200sqm spa offering treatments overseen by the French beauty doyenne Dominique Chenot this is a heaven for the most demanding guests.
Lounge area of the Selman Hotel wrapped in the mixture of Imperial purple and gold
While staying at Selman you are invited to enjoy a long walks in the fascinating gardens, and Arabian horse shows with 16 purebred horses. This is the place where you can live your Moroccan dream and awaken all your senses.
Fairmont Royal Palm Marrakech
Spreading on the property of 231 hectares, Fairmont’s five-star Royal Palm is large enough to be completely autonomous entity within which premises one can found everything that could possibly want from the one of the most luxurious hotels that we have ever had a chance to visit. Located just 12km from the red pearl of the desert, Marrakech, Fairmont Royal Palm is close enough for daily visits to the Medina and other historically important places, but definitely far enough to make you feel like you are separated from anything that could distract you from fully enjoying your vacation. All in Royal Palm is made with only one intention – to make you feel like you have been transported to some kind of strangely modern and very sophisticated oasis, where everything and everyone is at the service of your well-being.
Assuming that Fairmont Royal Palm is mostly for Golf aficionados is actually quite wrong, although it is pretty much a perfect spot for them. Or maybe for the swimmers? There are numerous water surfaces in the hotel, for sports and decoration alike, and the actual swimming pools are endlessly large, with tiles in the colors of a freshwater forest lake.
Spa programs in Fairmont Royal Palm is developed with very high standards and it will satisfy all your needs during the stay.
Lodge K Hotel & Spa is a five-star luxury retreat near the Palmerai quarter of Marrakech. It was opened some seven years ago and its concept is unique enough to make it prominent even within the realm of Marrakech’s luxury hotels and resorts. The size of the property is pretty large, especially for European standards, but the number of the exclusive lodges is very limited which makes this place private and romantic. There are five lodges- Egyptian, Art Deco, African, Master’s lodge and Balinais, each one different from another, with its own unique style and design theme. There are also three suites named- Ambre, Suite du Borj and Jasmin.
We stayed five days at this picturesque place, enough to enjoy seemingly endless oasis of palm trees and swimming in the circle pool. At night, the pool is beautifully lit with dozens of little candles around it and it transforms from the sun-kissed tropical paradise to the most romantic place in the world.
For our stay at Lodge K, we chose very luxurious and stylish Egyptian Lodge. It was pretty easy to fall in love with its dark walls, adorned with numerous details that make you feel like a mighty conqueror on its way to Cleopatra’s palace!
WHERE TO EAT?
Le Marocain restaurant
We spent an unforgettable evening at Le Marocain restaurant where we tasted modern Moroccan cuisine. With its Riad concept, the restaurant is set among palms and olive trees on the hotel’s sprawling grounds. It is one of the most romantic scenery we have seen in Marrakech- discreet alcoves create an intimate atmosphere and it was beautiful just to look at the moon and the stars while enjoying La Mamounia‘s wine and a live trio that was playing legendary Algerian chaâbi song “Ya Rayah”.
Le Marocain restaurant
Le Marocain restaurant
The Selman restaurant
We had an outstanding dinner at Selman’s flagship namesake restaurant, an international culinary affair with Moroccan flair. Designed by Jacques Garcia in sparkling shades of green and purple, Selman restaurant is a chic and trendy dining venue. Located at the heart of the hotel, the Selman bar suggests refreshments & cocktails under electro lounge music.
The Selman restaurant
The Selman restaurant
Le Caravane restaurant
Dining experience at Fairmont Royal Palm undoubtedly lives up to the already high expectations. The hotel’s restaurants and the bar are very stylish and inviting. Whether you chose a dinner at our favorite, posh and refined Le Caravane, a lunch at L’Olivier, situated right next to Royal Palm’s impressive swimming pool, or maybe a journey through traditional Moroccan cuisine at Al Aïn , you will be overwhelmed with regal atmosphere and an abundance of culinary masterpieces.
Le Caravane restaurant has stunning views of
the pool, with the Atlas Mountains in the backdrop
Le Caravane, under its executive Chef Yann Meinsel, will win you with its creative approach to both national and international cuisine, always prepared with fresh and seasonal products. With over 20 years of experience, Chef Yann Meinsel has excelled at many renowned addresses in the French capital including 59 Poincaré, the Plaza Athénée and Hotel de Crillon.
Le Caravane restaurant
For the main course we recommend salmon or steak, and for the dessert- Caribbean chocolate Moelleux, Bourbon vanilla ice cream; Selection of home-made sorbets and ice creams or Chocolate “Parfait”, caramel sauce, salt and thyme, vanilla ice-cream. In the dining area, the restaurant boasts an amazing wine cellar with truly impressive selection of quality wines. For the special occasion you may order Château d’Yquem.
WHAT TO EXPERIENCE?
Morocco Luxury Experience with their services assisted us on our trip to Marrakech, and even organized camel rides and one day desert visit. It was all tailored to our needs and desires. Morocco’s deserts are an intense and glorious landscape that reward exploration. The dunes of the Sahara, the world’s largest hot desert, offer a harsh and beautiful landscape in which civilization and nature have bloomed, and the best way to explore this remarkable landscape is by embarking upon a trek, often by camel, and with the option to sleep under the vast starry skies. Whether it’s exploring the deserted white sands of Plage Blanche or gazing upon the tallest dunes in the world in Erg Chebbi, there is an adventure waiting for everyone.
The fortified town of Aït Benhaddou near Ouarzazate on the edge of the Sahara desert in Morocco is famous for its use as a set in many films such as Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, Jewel of the Nile, Kingdom of Heaven, Kundun and Alexander.
WHERE TO SHOP?
Designers based in Morocco usually have one thing in common: they all seem to be moved by their surroundings. Yves Saint Laurent was motivated to start using color in his collections after spending significant time in Morocco. Today’s designers tend to focus on combining tradition — embroidery techniques, styles, or even textiles — with modern looks whether bohemian, one-of-a-kind or inspired.
33 rue Majorelle
Marrakech is a fashion fantasyland with its bold colors, and if you are looking to add a local, quality piece to your wardrobe, you must visit A 220m² concept store on two floors in the heart of Medina, 33 rue Majorelle is one of a new breed of shops in Marrakech, selling contemporary Moroccan fashion and homeware. Conceived by designer Monique Bresson founder of Ziadina International, the store features a radiant selection of authentic Moroccan goods – from glasses and furniture to designer clothing and beauty products. The store prides itself on the fact that genuine Moroccan designers craft the majority of its goods, with more than sixty designer brands altogether.
El Fenn Boutique
The new store, which doubles as a restaurant and bar, stocks a wonderful range of vintage-style clothes from new designers, many with a Moroccan vibe and an urban twist. Also on offer are vintage bags, accessories, beautiful jewellery, coffee table books, perfumes, and home accessories from the finest bed linens to the best of Fez pottery.
Co-curating the store’s collection is El Fenn’s general manager Willem Smith and one of the biggest names in model making and fashion, ex-Ford Models, Paul Rowland.
Derb Moullay Abdullah Ben Hezzian
Bab El Ksour
Max & Jan is mecca for resortwear, jewelry, and accessories. Belgian designer Jan Pauwels has joined forces with Swiss and Moroccan Maximilien Scharl to create their own vibrant brand, Max & Jan. They combine top fashion and traditional Moroccan wear to create its own special blend of style- ethnic, oriental, Bohemian with spicy African flavor. Everything is designed and manufactured entirely in Morocco.
14 Rue Amsefah, Sidi Abdelaziz
Boutique Fadila El gadi
Modern fashion for women can be found at the boutique of Fadila El gadi, a niche designer based between Paris and Marrakech, and formerly a student of Yves Saint Laurent. Her clothing line is very sophisticated and elegant, with 18th-century embroidery on each piece of taffeta or silk.
61, rue de Yougoslavie, Guéliz
Topolina is another great choice for people who want to make a statement with their trendy garments.
134 Dar el Bacha
Bakchic is created by designer Sofia El Arabi. She designs clothes with mixture of traditional Moroccan style and contemporary French chic. By looking at her clothing line you may see how to wear kaftan or embroidery dress and look “Marrakech chic” everyday. Shop online or find her collections at 33 Rue Majorelle concept store on Rue Yves Saint Laurent, across from the Majorelle Gardens. Follow her enviable Bohemian lifestyle on Instagram.
WHAT TO BUY?
Made from local argan nuts that are ground on site inside the small natural remedy shops, it’s a staple in Moroccan cuisine and beauty, and truly a must for argan oil devotees.
Small candlesticks, letterboxes, trays or teapots are all authentic to Morocco and make for incredibly valuable and special gifts for others or for your own home.
The most special pieces with incredible amounts of inlay and labor. Get yourself a small jewelry box or chess set.
Moroccan rugs are our obsession. You may find beautiful examples at Ben Rahal in Gueliz. While these rugs are more expensive than what is offered in the souks, they are also finer.
28, Rue de la Liberté
WHAT TO LISTEN?
As you prepare your visit to this magical city we suggest to you following music to set the right attitude for the travel:
As you experience its authenticity and tradition, you will appreciate its rich, varied history and the many surprises it holds for you.
We give very special thanks to Morocco Luxury Experience- an exclusive transportation service that assisted us on our trip. With their professional help tailored to our needs we could quickly travel between different locations.
Vesna Filipovic for Fashionela