10 Dec We’re mad for Marrakech
Whether you’re a culture vulture desperate to soak up local history, a shopaholic looking for some unusual bargains to take home, a gourmand who thrives on tasting new and exciting cuisine or simply someone whose perfect holiday only involves a good read and a sun lounger, Marrakech really does have it all.
Marvel at the magical exterior (non-muslims aren’t allowed to enter) of the Koutoubia Mosque, learn about Islamic scripture and law at Ben Youssef Medersa Quranic School and scope out the Badii Palace, one of the two principal monuments of the Saadian era (the other is the Saadian Tombs). With green space at a premium in Marrakesh, you can also find some respite from the African sun just outside the Medina at the glamourous and world-famous La Mamounia with its equally famous gardens. Head to Maison Tiskiwin, a private house owned by veteran Dutch anthropologist Bert Flint, where his fascinating collection of crafts and decorative arts from southern Morocco and the Sahara will fascinate those with a love of all things art. Finally make sure you schedule in a trip to the ancient Saadian Tombs that flank the south side of the Kasbah Mosque, the site of what is possibly Marrakech’s most visited monument is an ancient walled garden, the use of which far predates the Saadian era. Dotted around the shrubbery are early mosaic graves; the identity of those interred is long lost. Attention instead focuses on the three pavilions built during the reign of Saadian sultan Ahmed El-Mansour. “Just 45 minutes drive from the villa lie the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Here you can enjoy the country’s best trekking, explore the Berber villages and ride mules up to the famous Kasbah Toubkal”. Connect with Stay One Degree homeowner Violet to find out more about her stunning home just outside Marrakech and her personal favourite places to explore, eat, drink and shop.
Morocco is where the hammam originates from – and you can’t leave the capital without giving it a go. The ritual is followed very carefully starting with the opportunity to enjoy a series of temperature-controlled rooms starting with warm then very hot, then back to warm and ending up in a pretty chilly room. The idea behind this is to enable your skin to be scrubbed easily and to soak up the oils and gain hydration, which enhances the experience and gives the best results. The Moroccan hammam kicks off with the traditional ritual of glazing the body with – ghassoul, a natural clay extracted from the Atlas Mountains and blended with water to rid the skin of impurities. Black soap, is then applied all over the body (made with olive oil and eucalyptus leaves) to soften the skin prior to a body scrub. Rose water, made from Atlas roses is then used to neutralise the skin; and finally argan oil is massaged in to moisturise you from head to toe. You will find hamman spas to fit a variety of budgets all over Marrakech, our Stay One Degree homeowners might even share their secret favourite if you ask them very nicely!
Dine like the locals and sample some of the tasty street food on offer all across the city. It’s hard to choose from aubergines glistening with oil, tender lamb coated with local herbs, snails overflowing from buckets, cous-cous cooked to perfection, local olives from the Atlas mountains, rich stews, and colourful tanginess. Without wanting to sound greedy, it’s probably best to give it all a try! “There are plenty of places to eat and drink in the souk, but a favourite during the day is Cafe des Epices and for an early evening drink visit Kosy Bar’s roof top terrace.” Get in touch with Sara (view home) for more top tips.
There are few more pleasurable ways to spend time in Marrakech than wandering around the seemingly endless maze of markets in the Medina. The area of the Medina, just north of the Jemaa El Fna, is commercial – at least in its more central areas – with a fibrous network of souks. Beginning on the north edge, the souks comprise alleyway upon alleyway of tiny retail cubicles. The further in you venture the more interesting they become. “Haggling is a must and don’t buy the first thing you see as you will no doubt find the same thing further down the road. It can seem like a maze but there will always be people on hand to guide you back to the main square”, more sound advice from Sara.
Marrakech is awash with museums so for some pointers on where to start: the Dar Si Said Museum is the former home of the brother of Ba Ahmed, builder of the Bahia Palace and now houses a ragtag collection of crafts and woodwork; the engaging Maison de la Photographie, which displays exhibits from a collection of 8,000 photographs spanning the period from 1870-1950 (plus, the museum’s top terrace is perfect for a post-picture visit drink or light lunch); the new Douiria Mouassine, which showcases a restored, petite 17th-century reception apartment detailed with exquisite decorative plaster and wood work and the Marrakech Museum of Photography and Visual Arts (MMPVA) that has a temporary home inside the Badii Palace with a changing roster of exhibitions until the new Sir David Chipperfield-designed building is unveiled next to the Menara Gardens.
Stay One Degree has a fantastic selection of stunning homes in the beautiful city of Marrakech, from a four-bedroom riad designed by internationally reowned architect Didier Lefort to a peaceful eight-bedroom house situated in the Ourika Valley there is something to fulfill every desire (view homes).
If you’re a Marrakech homeowner with an absolute Marrakech must do, or a Stay One Degree-er who’s visited Marrakech and wants to share an unforgettable experience, leave a message below, we’d LOVE to hear from you…