October 18, 2018
Beneath its dusty and unknowable veneer, Morocco has long been a haven for creatives and hedonists alike, and nowhere more so than style capital Marrakech.
Beyond the intoxicating blend of exotic, Atlas Mountain-framed landscapes, dreamy palette of reds, pinks and Majorelle blue, and star-studded fanclub spanning the Rolling Stones to Yves Saint Laurent, the Ochre City remains as sought after as ever thanks to its stellar lineup of chic and soulful sips, sups, shops and flops. Here’s what’s rustling our tunic right now…
When a mysterious carved door opens in Marrakech, you never know what might lie behind it, but in the case of palm and olive tree-studded oasis Riad AnaYela, situated in the northernmost pocket of the Medina, the story concealed is one of forbidden love. During extensive renovations to the 300-year-old palace, a manuscript handwritten by a 16-year-old young woman on the eve of her wedding was discovered, recounting a tale of clandestine rendezvous in the palace tower with her lover. And today, the bewitching aura of Yela’s romance still hangs thick in the air, from the five hushed, cave-like abodes situated around the central pool, to the very tower where she met her beau. Top marks for intrigue and passion in this most alluring of cities.
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When Medina madness sets in, and the market stall fare is looking more tummy turning than flip-fresh, it’s time to pop on a frock and stili-skip your way to Montecristo. This upscale trifecta is your glamo-rama one-stop for a stylish night out. Start with dinner at the ground floor restaurant repping well-executed flavours from home and abroad (try the brochette boulfaf), then shimmy on up to the 1/F club where DJ-spun beats and mortgage-the-house bottle service sets the pace. Finally, sweep up to the rooftop SKY lounge, where nightcaps and shisha round out the evening.
Speaking of rooftops, Caffé Arabe sits on one of the town’s loveliest – sultry tryster La Maison Arabe’s to be exact – boasting megawatt romance cred thanks to its rapturous twilight vistas across the city, and lush Moroccan-Italian eats. Come for the cardamom-laced coffee, stay for the cocktails, and just add shisha!
Whether you’re dipping your bread, face or hair in it, Morocco’s homegrown super elixir argan oil is not just a must-try but an inevitable take-home purchase. And ancient herboristerie, Aux 100000 Epices, in the Berber district is the purveyor supreme, with not only top grade oil that you can watch being extracted before your eyes, but also perfumes, incense, distillations, cosmetics and medicinal plants. Perfect English spoken and very detailed product information, but you can expect to pay more for the goods here than elsewhere. But when does quality not come with a price tag?
57 Rue de La Kasbah, +212 5243 81606
Who knew getting flayed alive and dipped in oil could be so heavenly? Widely renowned and perennially booked for good reason, pretty as a picture Les Bains de Marrakech modernises the traditional hammam experience just enough to keep the quintessence of the historical therapy intact while adding western influences – like the introduction of couples and group treatment rooms. Opt for the argan oil massage post scrub and drift away on the proverbial magic carpet.
With the Sahara on your doorstep it would be remiss not to indulge in your very own Lawrence of Arabia moment atop the dunes, and the undulating sands of Erg Chebbi, a scenic day’s long drive away, offer the opportunity to do just that. Via the super reliable and professional First Marrakech Tours, set off for the desert and take a mint tea before throwing your leg over your very own dusty dromedary for a day or even week-long jaunt staying in traddy tented camps. BYO bedazzled turban and perf camel-top pose, obviously.
For more fabby Ochre City recs, redeem your free LUXE Marrakech Mini Guide!
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