Guide to Marrakech with Mandy Brooks Orosco
Where to visit, shop, eat, drink and stay in Marrakech.
This is YSL’s home and there are beautiful succulent gardens that pop against the bright blue structures. There is also a Berber museum and a great little boutique for fashion accessories (bags, scarves, etc) as well as a beautiful bookshop. You can’t leave Morocco without visiting here.
Jardin Majorelle | Rue Yves Saint Laurent, Marrakesh, Morocco +212 5243-13047
Medersa Ben Youssef
This is in the Souk and it is STUNNING. The interior is spectacular, and the 16th-century Koran school was lovingly restored and buffed up to perfection in the late 1990s. The serene courtyard has a central water-filled basin and façades enhanced with tiling, stucco and carved cedar. It’s a quick stop and well worth visiting. Just don’t go at rush hour, instead go almost at closing (1.5 hours before).
Medersa Ben Youssef | Kaat Benahid, Marrakech 40000, Morocco +212 5244-41893
Obviously! Truly the best markets in the world in my opinion. It’s the only place I went to shop for rugs and home stuff, though it is of course the most expensive and touristy. It’s still not expensive for US prices though and you must learn the art of haggling. Be a hard negotiator and never pay the first price they quote you. They will inflate the price more than twice what they expect.
It is extremely complicated to shop, as you get lost instantly winding through a maze of shop after shop. I took a guide one of the days, they are not expensive but do take commission from the shops so things get pricey, but trust me its worth it because it is a zoo in there. Maybe try exploring without one the first day, and take the guide the 2nd day. Guides tend to take you to particular shops so be sure to have a list of places you want to go.
We were there shopping for furniture and fixtures for a house we are remodeling so we were on the hunt. We were lucky enough to get one of the guides to take us to local flea market which is about a 20 minute drive from the center of town. None of the dealers speak English, but you get everything for way cheaper. This is where a lot of the shops buy their things to sell.
Best shop for rugs. It is in the Souk des Tapis owned by two brothers who are both very hip and speak great English. They sell to a lot of cool boutiques in New York and California. They will take you to their private villa to show you the better rugs. There you can buy other textiles as well and smaller home goods.
Soufiane | 13 Souk des Tapis Rahba Kedima 061 85 34 97
This is a great store for all around decor. Most of the pieces here are imported from Western Africa and it’s a very well known shop.
Mustapha Blaoui | 142-144 Bab Doukkala, Marrakech +212 524 385 240
The best part about Marrakech is finding the little gems tucked behind what feels like a secret door in the maze of the Medina. Some of the most beautiful parts of Marrakech can’t be seen from the streets. Most of the homes and restaurants are behind old antique doors that lead you into beautiful tiled courtyards with open air homes. You constantly have someone wanting to show you how to get to the place you are searching for. They will expect a little money in return, but it is often worth it as you can get lost time after time. Several of the restaurants greet you with a man in a traditional white robe holding a lantern to lead you down a dark alley to find the most charming and quaint restaurant. A lot of the places we dined at were fixed meals with A LOT of food, and the prices were more similar to American prices, but they were all worth it and the food and ambiance were divine. Most of the nice restaurants were filled with tourist because the locals don’t tend to eat out as much, and if they do they are going to different spots. However, I always left having a delicious meal.
This restaurant is located a turn-of-the-century riad in Marrakesh, once owned by the French fashion designer Pierre Balmain. Dar Moha is known for it’s inventive Moroccan cuisine.
Dar Moha | 81 rue Dar el Bacha, Marrakech, Morocco +212 5243-86400
Truly such a special restaurant and ABSOLUTELY NOT TO BE MISSED. The food is insanely delicious,
and the ambiance is small and cozy. If you can only visit one of Marrakech’s traditional riad restaurants, make it this one. The fixed price includes an aperitif, wine with your meal and an after-dinner drink.
Dar Marjana | 15, Derb Sidi Ali Tair, Bab Doukkala Marrakesh Medina +212.522.214.171.124
This is amazing and not to be missed as well. It’s laid back and not too pretty but the food it great. It is perfect when you are tired and just want the BEST dinner, but the ambiance isn’t as special or elaborate as some of the other riad restaurants. However, the prices are a lot cheaper and the food is just as delicious. You can order a la carte as well which is nice because the set menus, although delicious tend to leave you feeling stuffed which is hard to do night after night.
Al Fassia | 55, Boulevard Zerktouni, Gueliz, Marrakech +212 524 43 40 60
Le Tobsil is located in an old palace in the medina and maintains a cool, old world feel too it — white tables cloths, candles, etc. They serve a set menu of traditional tagines, salads and pastries and it’s more food than anyone can eat, but worth checking out!
Le Tobsil | Derb Abdellah Ben Hessein, R'Mila Bab Ksour, Medina, Marrakech 40000, Morocco +212 5244-44052
The most unbelievable hotel built by King Mohammed VI of Morocco who is a very successful businessman. It is exquisite, spectacular and beautiful. Go for drinks or afternoon tea. It is very, very expensive for dinner and not really worth it for food.
Royal Mansour | Rue Abou Abbas El Sebti, Marrakesh 40000, Morocco +212 52980-8080
This is a spectacular hotel that’s amazing for drinks before dinner (not worth it for dinner/food). It is the quintessential Moroccan hotel.
La Mamounia | Avenue Bab Jdid, Marrakech 40000, Morocco
When in Morocco you want to stay in a riad. A riad is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard. The word riad comes from the Arabian term for garden “ryad.” There are so many wonderful riads to stay in, but below are two great options.
La Sultana (PRICEY)
This is probably the fanciest of the riads, but it’s still smaller and more quaint than staying at the Royal Mansour and La Mamounia. I felt like we were on our honeymoon and absolutely loved the place, but next time would opt for a less decadent riad. The service, the spa, the food were all exceptional. I would recommend staying at the El Fenn and try to book a hammam at the spa at La Sultana. It’s Moroccan tradition to go to the hammam at least once a week for a bathing ritual and they can spend 3-4 hours there chatting and catching up with friends. It was definitely an experience I wouldn’t miss. The La Sultana spa was extremely tranquil and you leave feeling revived. You can also get massages and facials, but I would stick to the traditional hammam experience. I had a massage and was highly disappointed, but the bathing ritual was better than I imagined. This riad is around $600 a night which is a lot in Morocco, so you can imagine how nice it was.
La Sultana | Rue de La Kasbah, Marrakesh 40000, Morocco +212 5243-88008
El Fenn (MID-RANGE)
A friend had recommended staying at El Fenn so we went to check it out and had dinner on the rooftop terrace one night. The food was delicious and the décor was simple yet colorful and tasteful. We absolutely loved La Sultana, but next time we go to Marrakech we will stay at El Fenn. The décor is well thought out and tastefully done. It’s very nice, but it won’t break the bank and it has a more laid back vibe. This place is around $200 a night which will get you a very beautiful place in Morocco.
El Fenn | Derb Moullay Abdullah Ben Hezzian, Bab El Ksour, Medina, Marrakech, Morocco +212 524 44 1210