Oh Morocco, well Marrakesh to be more precise. Where do I start? I had wanted to visit for such a long time so when I got the chance to spend a few days relaxing in a riad earlier this month you can bet I was excited. On a quick side note, you can’t get MAD the currency here in the UK easily (well we couldn’t) so get it at the airport either before you go or when you land. There are currency exchanges around which have good rates also.
I had booked months ago and had researched so many places to stay. When every riad looks like an Instagram heaven which do you pick eh. The term ‘riad’ means garden but it is applied to town houses built round a central courtyard. I opted for this over a hotel as it felt more authentic and is in the old Medina of Marrakesh.
STAY AT RIAD OLEMA ET SPA
I picked a winner here, after trying to stay at Riad BE which was actually just a street away I had no luck as it was fully booked months and months in advance. However, I am glad in hindsight as Riad Olema et Spa was a real gem. From the moment we were collected at the airport to the moment we left the service was impeccable all the staff were extremely friends, helpful and just genuinely warm and welcoming. Nothing was too much.
The Riad itself was luxe and tranquil our room was on the Romi side of the Riad as it was split over two sides and was called Room Ocarina. It opened out to the most stunning seating area and pool and being the only room on this we felt extremely lucky.
I have never wanted to redecorate my house more; everything was just perfect and the small finer details were everywhere. If you want to basque in the sun you can head up to the multi-level roof terrace and sit in the sun or the shade in several areas. Towels and hats are provided and if you feel like a quick dip which up there, there is a Jacuzzi too. From here you can walk down not the Beldi side where awaits another pool and more Instagramable spots. If you have me on Instagram @LemonaidLies you will see how much I took advantage of the photo opportunities.
We spent a fair bit of time in the riad as this was a pure rest and relaxation trip. It was so peaceful and the only noise we ever really heard form the outside was call to prayer which was never overly loud even though we were next to as the locals call it big mosque if you’re a tourist.
I could spend days upon days here just sipping fresh mint tea. A must try anywhere in Morocco it delicious. The hole offers complimentary breakfast every morning I felt in love with fresh rgaïf- msemen which is traditional square flatbread. If you fancy a bite to eat here, there is so many options the harira soup was delicious it is a veg and lentil soup and was just perfect with fresh bread, but you can order tasting platters or savory pastries all done perfectly and reasonably priced.
The one downside was if on the room it is sometimes hard to get service to get things like water so best to grab some bottles before you head up to the room otherwise you need to take the stairs to find someone.
WHERE TO EAT
Riad Lotus Privilège – We ate here our first night it is luxurious, and a huge set menu will set you back approx. 500MAD which is around £40pp without drinks. This was our most expensive meal and while it was good the setting, the fact they had performers etc. was better, though they did do a mean apperol spritz. What we did realise however was that it was a prime spot for tours to come for their dinner and while they were not seated with us when they arrive you knew about it they swarmed the courtyard, were loud and all taking flash photos which to be honest was a huge contrast to the ten minutes prior as we sat down at sunset sipping a drink. It was here we realised Moroccans love lots of courses and boy you will never leave anywhere hungry.
Dar El Baroud – We didn’t mean to go here, while looking for somewhere else a local took us to this place, was an odd experience but was bloody lovely and was the best place we ate while here. Tucked down a side street it is very traditional Moroccan with candelabras and a lot of red decorating the rooms. Again, we went for the set menu but the smaller one this time at a slightly cheaper price of approx. 350MAD which is about £30 they serve mojitos here but like most places alcohol here isn’t huge and this nearly killed me it was so strong. Stick to soft drinks here or mint tea! A huge spread with such colour and delights followed by a meatball tagine which I had been desperate to try, and it did not disappoint.
Nomad – A place you need to book before hand if you do want to go as the two terraces that overlook the media get very busy because it is a prime spot to watch the sunset. Now controversial, but I did not love this place. The look and vibe of it is perfect, but it didn’t give be any real umph and the food was nice but nothing to wow. We were sat on the terrace but had no real view of the sunset side and it just lacked the hype I had seen on Instagram personally. There are lots off roof terrace bars and restaurants surrounding the Medina and I think some may just be better.
WHAT TO DO & SEE
As I said for us this was more of a chill and relax trip so we kept manic activities to a minimum, however I will be back to do things like the Atlas Mountains.
Head to the medina – it is hectic and busy, and you will every few seconds be asked to buy something however I have visited a lot of place like this and confidence is key. Just say no and keep walking if you’re not interested. I was called Shakira, Hannah Montanna and only Kim K a few times just take it in your stride and browse if you want. Be careful we found it was darn easy to get lost in the walls of the Medina and taxi drivers really struggle to get back to the riads we spent 30 minutes one evening going in circles and because I couldn’t use my data there trying to show them on maps was near on impossible. Keep your Raids number handy to give to them and they can direct the driver easily. If you don’t wasn’t to walk to the Medina center, you can get a tuk-tuk which is approx. 50-70MAD about £3-5.
Le Jardin Majorelle – The most beautiful gardens, it is a two and half acre botanical garden and artist’s landscape garden in Marrakesh, Morocco. It was created by the French Orientalist artist, Jacques Majorelle over almost forty years, starting in 1923, and features a Cubist villa designed by the French architect, Paul Sinoir in the 1930s. Buy a join ticket and access the Beege museum and the YSL museum too.
YSL Museum – This Marrakesh museum is located on a street that had already been named after the designer, Yves Saint Laurent Street, near Majorelle Garden—Saint Laurent’s residence in Morocco, transformed since his death into a garden, museum of Amazigh cultures, and exhibition space receiving more than 700,000 visitors per year.
It includes an exhibition hall featuring the work of Yves Saint Laurent, another dedicated to Jacques Majorelle, and temporary exhibition halls, and an auditorium with 13 seats. It also has a gift shop and book store, a café-restaurant with a patio, and a research library with over 5,000 volumes including Andalusi works dating back to the 12th century as well as books on botany, Amazigh art, and the work of Yves Saint Laurent.
From the exterior, the earth-coloured building takes the form of an assemblage of cubes and curves, dressed in a lace of bricks evoking weaves of fabric. The materials are terra cotta, concrete, and terrazzo, with colours allowing the building to blend in with its surroundings. It was all quite simply stunning!
We didn’t over do the trip and just took our time, there is so much to do and see and it can be easy to get overwhelmed but if you do it right then it is the perfect place to kick back. You can get the best of both worlds here from traditional to ultra-modern they have it all. If you speak French you will get on better here as after Arabic, French is most of their second language so it can be easier to communicate.
As a woman if felt safe here, which I was insure of before going but everyone was friendly and helpful.
I will for sure be coming back, it was reasonably priced, yet everything felt it had a touch of elegance. So be prepared for me to book myself another trip here, possibly even alone to chill on the rooftops and relax in on of the many spas or hammams. Oh and of course to hunt out every cat possible because I am obsessed, can you tell?
Have you been to Marrakesh? Are you planning on going? Check out some of my other favorite places to visit in my Travel section of some inspiration on your next adventure.