Our first time in Marrakech was nothing short of wonderful, one of those trips I want to relive over and over again. It was a culture shock in the best way – the sights, the sounds, the smells… it’s a complete sensory overload.
I’ve had the city on my list for many, many years- it’s the kind of place I didn’t want to go to until I knew I could do it right! I actually had it in mind for my 30th birthday, but we ended up booking it for a winter vaycay, which may just be my best idea yet. We picked a really good time to visit, it was always lovely and warm but not unbearably so.
There was so much we wanted to do in Marrakech, I had a list as long as my arm! It’s one of the first trips I’ve ever really thought we could have done with being there longer – despite being there for five days!
My Instagram friend Claimy helped me with some recommendations, so be sure to check her out too if you’re planning a trip.
Where We Stayed
I knew I wanted to stay in a beautiful traditional Moroccan riad, it’s been my dream to experience one of these tiled wonders! After many hours spent browsing, we booked Ksar Kasbah. This beautiful riad was everything we could have wanted – it has an incredible rooftop for evening drinks, a beautiful pool in the middle of the lobby, lovely rooms and the most helpful and kind staff. We really loved our stay here and I’d recommend it to everyone.
Moroccan breakfasts are like no other, and every morning the staff laid out a delicious breakfast of fruit, local bread and baked goods, granola, avocado and freshly made coffee. We sometimes ate in the restaurant downstairs and other days we had breakfast on the roof terrace in the sun.
The hotel also has a spa for a typical hammam but sadly we didn’t have time to enjoy it – so obviously we must go back! Personally I much prefer a small riad to a big hotel, although we did have a stroll around both La Mamounia and the Royal Mansour – I think if you’re going for a special occasion it would be lovely to stay here but I do love how unique and charming the riads are!
A Few Foodie Recommendations
We both love Moroccan food so much and there were so many places we had on our list to try!
Kabana; This was Jordan’s favourite place, and I have to admit the food was incredible (the Patatas Bravas… oh my god) and the decor was next level. I am completely in love with Moroccan interiors and the bathroom alone did it for me.
El Fenn; We went here first for drinks and then headed to the restaurant for dinner. It’s quite pricey here and I think it’s a place we could have gone to just for drinks and a snack at sunset on the rooftop. This is very near Kabana so I would say El Fenn first for drinks and then Kabana for dinner.
Nomad; Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, recommended Nomad to us! We ended up going for lunch because most evenings we wanted a beer or a glass of wine and Nomad don’t serve alcohol. It was lovely to sit here at lunchtime as it’s right over the spice market.
L’Mida; This place is the perfect spot to spend a lazy afternoon – we headed here for a drink and dessert after lunch at Nomad and it was delicious.
I Limoni; We went here last minute after our day in the Atlas Mountains, we were totally beat and wanted something substantial and Italian seemed like it would fit the bill. It was a bit of a trek from our riad so we had to get a bit of a questionable taxi ride but we made it. The food was okay, again no alcohol so this may sway you – it wasn’t my favourite from our trip but then again I’m not the biggest fan of Italian food.
And For Drinks…
It’s pretty much a must that you spend an evening on a rooftop while you’re in Marrakech! Our riad had a beautiful rooftop so I would recommend stopping here if you fancy a cold Casablanca or a bottle of local wine.
I would absolutely recommend El Fenn for sunset drinks, and Kabana for cocktails!
Our Favourite Things To See & Do…
We booked a guide through our hotel for our first day and it was actually a really great experience, we saw so much of the city from someone who knew where to go. He took us through the souks, to the Palais Bahia and Le Jardin Secret and to some amazing rug shops too. I think if you want to see a good chunk of the city on foot in a few hours, this is the way to do it!
I think we were hassled less in the souks because we were with him, and he helped me to haggle for a few items too. Although he did try and take us to a chicken market which we quickly declined…
Le Jardin Secret was a highlight for me, it was really beautiful inside and it felt very serene. We didn’t make it to Jardin Majorelle which is a shame, but I think we got our garden fix between Le Jardin Secret and a stroll around La Mamounia.
We also booked a day trip out to the Atlas Mountains and the Agafay desert which was definitely a highlight! I ended up taking so many photos so I’ll do a separate post on this, but we booked this tour and we loved it.
I so wish we had booked a hammam while we were in Marrakech but time just ran away from us! Quite a few people recommended Les Bains Marrakech which was right next to our riad, but since we had already been to the spa at the Royal Mansour we thought we’d pretty much ticked the experience off our list. Next time for sure!
Getting Around The City
We tried to avoid taxis at all costs, I think they can be a bit sketchy! Thankfully the staff at our riad bargained with the only taxi driver we got during our trip, but it didn’t look like they were having a very fun conversation…
My advice would be to download a good map App and make sure you know where you’re going at all times – it’s SO easy to get lost in Marrakech and you rarely have internet to find out where you are. Map your route before you leave.
& For Shopping
I ended up buying a fair bit in Marrakech, but then again I knew I would! As I said, I adore Moroccan interiors so I really wanted to bring back some bowls and other ceramics.
I picked up a lot of little bits and pieces at the souks, everyone said to haggle so before I picked anything up I thought about how much I would want to pay for it/how much I’d pay at home and then started much lower than this and sort of haggled from there. Sometimes I walked away if it was still too expensive – which I would do at home if something was pricier than I expected.
I don’t mind haggling if it’s done within reason.
I also found the Chabi Chic store underneath Nomad and spent a small fortune – I really recommend popping in here if you’re nearby, it’s beautiful. There’s also El Fenn for beautiful pieces too.
I really wanted to bring a rug home with me but I didn’t in the end, I really couldn’t be bothered with the hassle – although the rugs were incredible.
A Few Notes…
Before we left for Marrakech I had received quite a few messages saying to stay safe and what to avoid, I know people were only trying to help but I did feel quite nervous before we left!
Thankfully we never felt threatened or unsafe during our trip at all. Everyone we encountered was lovely and kind – I walk a good few paces in front of Jordan at all times (fast walker over here!) so I did get the odd comment but nothing too untoward.
I think it’s important to remember that you need to be considerate of the culture, especially when it comes to your clothes, although I didn’t have any issues. I wore midi dresses mostly but most were sort of low-cut or bardot style. I think short shorts and a crop top would probably be out of the question but it depends where you go!
The main medina is a bit mad, my advice is to walk fast and brush off anyone that wants to grab your hand or lead you away. They will grab your hand, quickly put henna on you and then ask you to pay! I’ve heard stories of people being lead down alleys by locals and then having to pay to get back to the main square. It’s a bit mad!
I have a very intense phobia of snakes, and in the medina there’s snakes on chains… oh my god I couldn’t even look at them! I’ve heard stories of the handlers putting the snakes or monkeys on your shoulders. I basically legged it through the medina every single time.
When it comes to haggling, dealing with overbearing locals or reasoning with taxi drivers, I think you just have to be firm. As I said, we didn’t have any negative experiences but whenever we were approached I quickly walked away or repeated no and we were left alone.
It was our first time experiencing the Call To Prayer, which I loved! It was so fascinating to hear it played from our rooftop, but not as fun being woken up by it at 5am and 7am…
You may want to look at how close your accommodation is to a mosque, but I really think you’ll hear it regardless!
I put all my recommendations and a few other places I had on my list in to a map here, so you can save it for future trips.
Marrakech is a truly vibrant and mesmerising city, it’s got a little bit of everything and there’s SO MUCH to see. You could spend an entire month here and you still wouldn’t feel like you had long enough.
I really loved it and I already can’t wait to go back, it’s such a wonderful place.
Have you got Marrakech on your list?