48 hours in Marrakech
I recently spent 3 nights in Marrakech as a quick little anniversary "bae-cation" holiday, as the trip was more a relaxing break away, involving a lot of eating, reading and just generally chilling out with my other half I thought I'd put together a 48 hour luxury Moroccan break as well as what really stood out to me in Marrakech. So if you're looking for a hint of luxury in your Marrakech travel, best location to stay in Marrakech on a slightly higher budget or just where to eat in trendy restaurants in Marrakech then look no further.
(Marrakech or Marrakesh? Apparently the common English spelling is Marrakesh and Marrakech is a commonly used French spelling, but I’ve always used Marrakech and I’m sticking to it.)
Where to stay - Hotel or riad?
For this trip to Marrakech, we decided to not stay in a traditional riad and went for something a bit more modern, the Radisson Blu Carre Eden is a great hotel with a hint of luxury, located centrally, and doesn't compromise on modern features. The hotel is located next to a shopping centre on quite a busy road, minutes from Starbucks and Zara (handy) but you wouldn't be able to tell once inside. Our room looked inward with views of the pool so it seems like you're a lifetime away from the busy streets, if you're looking for a relaxing break staying in close proximity to most restaurants and the Medina, this hotel is ideal. They also have a nice sized gym.
I was invited to visit Palais Namaskar for a spa day, rated one of the best hotels in Marrakech, this hotel was around 25 minutes drive from the Medina in a bit of a secluded location between desert and mountains. The hotel is perfect for a break away from it all if you'd prefer to stay away from the bustle of the city, with stunning views of the Atlas Mountains. This five-star property can be compared to a palace with amazing details throughout, a vibrant combination of Eastern-inspired architecture infusing Feng Shui principles with contemporary interior design. as well as beautiful pools, gardens and palm trees.
The Spa Namaskar is a haven of peace inspired by the Feng Shui elements that radiate through the hotel, Le Spa Namaskar embraces the three fundamentals of purity, energy and balance; you will leave feeling refreshed and rebalanced.
Restaurants in Marrakech - where to eat?
I visited a couple of different restaurants on my trip, I researched the top restaurants in Marrakech before and checked out the menu of mainly those with a trendy, date night sort of vibe to suit my trip.
Less than 10 minute walk from the Radisson Blu hotel is Azar, a very traditional yet modern and romantic restaurant. The restaurant offers mainly Moroccan and Lebanese cuisine, they sometimes have a DJ and Oriental dancers but when I went it was super cosy and quiet. The menu consists of grilled meats, tagines and mezze assortments.
Le Comptoir Darna
Le Comptoir Darna is a popular stylish spot for celebrities, out-of-towners and the in-crowd in Marrakech to lounge with a cocktail or for dining, this boutique hangout is ideal for a romantic date night that involves a bit of fun. Located in the Hivernage area, the legendary restaurant has a dark and sultry vibe with a candlelit dining room with bouqets of roses and lanterns. The grand staircase acts as a stage for traditional musicians, there’s also belly dancers hovering around tables later on in the evening, book for around 9pm so you don’t miss any of the action! The international-inspired menu fuses exotic flavours of the and West. We went for some cocktails followed by a traditional beef tagine for my main. My favourite part of Le Comptoir Darna was the small hidden garden; it’s perfect for a cosy after dinner chill, if you don’t fancy continuing with the party upstairs. for some more drinks or shisha. There are colourful pillows and rugs and loads of candles and cute lamps dotted around, they also give out blankets to cuddle under. There’s even a hanging tree chair for that all important photo op.
My favourite restaurant I visited whilst in Marrakech, bô-zin will treat you to a unique and special evening, from the entertainment, ambience and amazing food. The glamorous restaurant is a hotspot with A-listers and I can definitely see why, a bit like a piece of Ibiza in Marrakech. The pretty décor reminds me of being in Bali with an elegant air and a lot of greenery throughout, the outside terrace overlooks an exotic garden and fountains and there’s private tents and chairs alongside open fires and torches to get cosy on in the summer months. There is a DJ throughout the evening playing a soulful soundtrack that sets the perfect mood and makes it a beautiful and fancy place to dine. The music and crowds get a bit lively after around 11pm. The menu is international mixed with Asian, Moroccan, and European, I particularly enjoyed the dim sum selection on offer, there’s so much to choose from and it’s perfect for sharing.
Vert Midi is a healthy chain restaurant in Marrakech, luckily there’s one located a few doors down from the Radisson Blu and we accidentally stumbled across it and it became a regular lunch spot. You can create your own salads choosing bases such as rice or quinoa and then fill it up with a wide range of toppings and dressing, the portion sizes are very generous too. They also serve sandwiches, fresh smoothies, juices and milkshakes to eat in or to go, I believe there’s a few of these dotted around Marrakech and the prices are really cheap and affordable.
Cafe Kif Kif
Cafe Kif Kif has incredible views of Koutoubia Mosque, located really close just across the road and you can sit at the rooftop and watch the world go by.
Tucked away in the corner of the Spice Square in the heart of the souks. Nomad is a restaurant you may have heard of, chic and trendy with a cosy terrace that has unique views across the Square and medina rooftops. The hip hangout offers a modern menu with a take on classic dishes and is perfect for a lazy lunch.
Things to do
Relax or have a mini photoshoot at a luxury riad
If the top Instagrammable places in Marrakech is what you're after, there are so many places and so much beautiful architecture and colourful scenery it's definitely so picture worthy. I decided against it on this visit, but staying at or spending the day at a riad is surely a way to get some really cute and beautiful pictures so traditional and typical to Marrakech, the riads are decorated in keeping with Moroccan culture and usually have rooftop restaurants/bars or small pools inside.
I researched a few of the top luxury riads that are my favourite to consider when I return to Marrakech, they are:
Explore the Souks
I really wanted to visit the souks of Marrakech but it decided to pour down with rain the day we planned to go, not so lovely for outdoor exploring. Perfect for shopping lovers, you can find it all in the souks from antique doors, blankets, spices, medicines, incredible mint tea to hand-made ornaments which make perfect souvenirs. Make sure you get your haggling skills on to bag some good deals.
Take a hot air balloon ride at sunrise
One of the things on my Marrakech to-do list which in such a short space of time there I didn't get around to. Ciel d'Afrique does hot air balloon ride packages which look just amazing! This excursion includes 4x4 transfers, early morning balloon ride to catch the sunset and then tea and a traditional breakfast. Prices start from 2050dh per person (around £150pp) and it looks well worth it, something to tick off the bucket list.
Sip a mint tea whilst looking down on Plaza Jemaa el-Fnaa
I've heard different opinions about Plaza Jemaa el-Fnaa, some people really hate how busy and dirty it is and some people see the beauty in it, it's such a busy place filled with monkeys, medicine men and snake charmers it can be a bit overwhelming just being in the Square. An alternative way to enjoy it is sipping a cup of fresh mint tea with a slice of cake at a rooftop bar or restaurant. Cafe Arabe is a really cute and cosy place to relax, grab a bite and enjoy the sunset.
Ride a camel or quad bike through the desert
A really fun activity to break up the sightseeing of your holiday, I think once you've done the camel and quad biking in the desert somewhere you've kind of done it everywhere. I did this when I was in Egypt a couple of years ago so didn't plan to do any activities in Marrakech this time around. You can also book a trip to the Atlas Mountains and stay in a traditional Berber tent sleeping under the stars.
Visit the famous Jardin Majorelle
I absolutely loved Jardin Majorelle, it feels like a world away from the chaotic city - the garden created by Jacques Majorelle and then bought by Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent is a homage to them and such a tranquil place to be in Marrakech. I went quite late, about 40 minutes before closing so there was no queue and it was a little more quiet than I think it usually is. The deep blues, tropical plants and picturesque ponds are the perfect place to spend a few hours strolling around. The cost of entry is 70dh (around £5).
Fall in love with the architecture at Ben Youssef Madrasa
Set in the heart of the souks, Ben Youssef Madrasa, is an amazing representation of Moroccan design and architecture, the former school is one of the most beautiful buildings in Morocco, a former school, is filled with colourful tiles and intricate details and is a great place to get lost and explore for a couple for hours.