Sep 03, 2019 | By Jane Boddy
My long weekend in Marrakech was the perfect inspiration boost – so close to Europe and yet such a culture shock, in the best way. The city may have ‘touristified’ over the years since I’ve been visiting, yet it maintains a heady and beguiling energy that bombards the senses. Be prepared to be enthralled and enraged in equal measure as you navigate the maze of Medina alleys, avoid mopeds and donkey carts, all while haggling down to the last Dirham.
Honey-yellows, deep terracottas, cobalt blues and emerald greens make up this city’s highly photogenic palette – not to mention the black and neons now woven through the most trend-conscious rug makers’ wares. Read on for where to shop, eat, see and recharge for a weekend stint in the Pink City.
For a snapshot of ‘real’ Marrakech, spend a morning walking the length of rue Bab Doukkala, a bustling street for local food shopping. The road leads into Dar-el-Bacha for some inspiring retail: stop at Mustapha Blaoui , a renowned Aladdin’s Cave of Moroccan treasures. Don’t miss leather shoemaker Asslal Hichame’s street stall, whose contrast-colour brogues stand out from the souk crowd. Check out contemporary Marrakech fashion along here too at Topolina for retro-style prints, and Laly for chic womenswear.
After a heavy morning in the souks, escape to the rooftop of Nomad for lunch, a slice of modern, bohemian Marrakech with its vegan food options and geometric Intsa-friendly tiles in black, white and yellow
If you want the wow factor, book a table for dinner at El Fenn, a boutique hotel with a beautiful roof terrace boasting comfy sofas, hidden courtyards, plunge pools and lush greenery. Worth it despite the at times haphazard service. Check out the boutique downstairs for contemporary kaftans and other local designer finds.
No fashion research trip is complete without a visit to the newly opened Yves Saint Laurent Museum. Arrive early to miss the selfie-snapping crowds that flock to the Majorelle Gardens next door (tip: buy entry to the gardens at the museum desk). The museum is a tranquil, modern space showcasing the YSL archive, film and temporary exhibitions – plus there’s a lovely café. Before you leave, pop across the road to Anitan for beautiful rugs with a graphic, contemporary feel. Don’t miss the next-door concept store 33 rue Majorelle, for two floors of Moroccan designer clothing, accessories and homewares.
If the Medina’s endless hot and dusty alleyways get a bit much, take a short taxi to The Beldi Club, a real oasis that combines French colonial-style charm with a stylish Moroccan vibe. It’s well worth the entry fee to use the outdoor pools, spa and restaurant and explore its lush gardens. Don’t miss the glass-blowing workshop selling beautiful tablewares, as well as Chabi Chic – a must-see boutique offering ceramics, clothing and accessories that combine traditional craft with a modern, fresh appeal.
For more inspiration – and all our latest travel guides – head to WGSN City by City.
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