Marrakesh city guide

Whenever someone asks me how Marrakesh was, I always start with: it’s so, so beautiful! Except the people… And by people, I obviously don’t mean all of the people who live in Marrakesh, but we definitely didn’t have the best tourist experience. In fact, as much I loved Marrakech for its architecture and culture, I doubt I’ll go back soon.

At one point, I would love to go back -the architecture is beyond stunning. They have a very rich culture and it all just seems like one film set. The light that filtered through the roof into the souks was also really pretty. At the same time though, it’s a very busy city. There’s so much going on and so much for the senses to process. The smells of the food, all herbs, but also the scooters cruising very fast through the souks -like they came from nowhere and suddenly they’re there- and the noises of the people, music, sales talks…

I’m going to list the things that we did, and I strongly recommend reading  the article below, about my personal experience of Marrakesh.

Hotels & Riads

Tigmiza & Pavillons

For our first two nights in Marrakesh, we stayed in this hotel. It’s 20 minutes away from the city centre, but it’s very quiet and peaceful. We booked this last minute with Voyage Privé and then booked some extra nights in another Riad. Upon our very late arrival, we were given a very warm welcome with traditional Moroccan tea and cookies.

It’s a very quiet boutique resort, with not that many rooms. The breakfast buffet had a wide variety. The lunch we had at the pool was also excellent.

Riad Dar Justo

This is where we stayed during the second part of our trip in Marrakesh. I absolutely wanted to stay in a cute Riad, when in Marrakesh. And I don’t have any regrets about it. Staying at a Riad is so RELAXING. Our riad wasn’t that expensive and it was so beautiful. I was always looking forward to returning through our road, after some exhausting hours walking around. We took one morning to do some work and relax in the cosy corners on the rooftop of our riad, enjoying Moroccan tea, as it should be. Highly recommend.

La Sultana

We didn’t sleep here, as they were fully booked, but we spent a morning first having breakfast there, and later on we enjoyed their beautiful spa. We booked ourselves a scrub to remove all our dead skin. Afterwards, we relaxed a bit more and felt reborn and ready to walk the Medina again.

La Mamounia

We didn’to sleep here either, as it was not in the old centre, and we booked a hotel out of the city centre already and wanted to try out the Riads. We did however; enjoy lunch in one of their restaurants and later on, we checked out their spa, which left us speechless. The symmetrical pool of the spa was like a Moroccan art piece -truly amazing.

Where to eat?

Moroccan cuisine is really, really good. One of my favourite tanginess’s was the KEFTA one. It’s like meatballs in tomato sauce, with an egg or two cooked in the middle. Delicious. Our favourites where Nomad, Le Jardin, La Salama and Atay.

Although they’re all known for their Moroccan cuisine, Nomad does it with a modern twist – let’s say, a Western twisty. It’s really good, give it a try. On top of that, you’ll have an amazing view over the souks.

La Salama has a very impressive roof. The ceiling of the restaurant is covered with, and full of hanging- and air-plants. Arrive before sunset and enjoy eyour aperitif during sunset, before digging into the actual menu. We did the tasting menu which was so very good. It also had an extremely friendly atmosphere, which we could use once in a while.

What to do?

There’s plenty to do in Marrakesh. Our favourite was of course trying out Moroccan food and tea. Besides that, they have a huge number of mosques, riads, gardens and so on, to visit. A very famous and popular one is the Garden of Majorelle, which I visited before and is very beautiful. My visit there was 2 years ago, – click here to see my post of Marrakesh two years ago-. We visited Le Jardin Secret (which was only finished with renovations at the end of 2016). Wander around the souks, but don’t get lost. Go to a spa. Moroccan spa’s are amazing. We were invited by Es Saadi -a hotel right out the city centre, close to La Mamounia– to an afternoon at the spa, for massages and relaxation. A must when in Marrakesh. We also went camel riding, but I would not recommend it.

We took some nice shots during the ride, but it’s nothing more than riding a horse and walking around in the Palm Groove. Everything had to go very quickly and we were not finished yet, when the next group was waiting on us already.

I would like to go back to my intro about how gorgeous Marrakesh is or isn’t.

As gay couple, I wouldn’t recommend this as a destination, and definitely not for your honeymoon or similar.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful city and you could perfectly go if you’re okay with “respecting” their religion, which is not your home, as it’s a form of respect.
Sadly though, they didn’t show us that respect. Let me explain the situation and what happened, which gave us a ‘double-feeling’, going returning home again. Moroccans, especially the ones living in, or with a store in the souks, let’s say, aren’t very eager on cameras. As soon as we were vlogging – pointing the camera lens to our faces – they made signs with their hands from far away, to bring down our camera. That being said, we decided to only the film in quiet places and in our hotel or riad.

On our second evening, we went exploring the souk together. I was looking for water and Dennis was taking shots of the atmosphere with my camera, you know how it goes.

At one point, I was about to buy a bottle of water in small store on a corner between other carpet, and Moroccan cushion stores. I had my back turned towards Dennis, as I was talking to the store owner, who was behind his cash register. At the moment I was taking out some cash to pay the guy for the water, I overheard Dennis getting into a discussion behind me. I turned around and saw a Moroccan guy yelling at my boyfriend, while pointing his finger at my (very expensive) camera.

“Delete that photo!!!”. “You have to delete all the photos!!”. Dennis took the details of the store, while I was about to pay, when a total stranger came in between us. I told him to back off. He then yelled at me, after he almost touched my forehead with his. He said things like “fuck off” and “go to your own country”. I was still friendly and tried to explain that we were just buying water, when he again replied with, “you don’t have to buy water, go fuck off”. Well our evening was quite ruined that night, in the sense that we were shocked by what actually happened. We tried not to think about it anymore.

Beside this small issue and the fact that we didn’t feel really “safe” –not in the sense that they would attack us- as they were also constantly trying to sell stuff. The people in the souks are rarely friendly or helpful, for free. They ask for tips for everything and can get very, very intrusive.

Marrakesh sure has its secret places and riads, which are amazing, and very relaxing, so if you go to Marrakesh be sure to note the things we did. Enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

Matthias Geerts

Founder and writer

QUOTE
"The goal is not to attract attention, but to give people a good mood with the way you look" ― Matthias Geerts
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